Thursday, June 17, 2010

Slushing Through : The hard part

Jenna Bayley-Burke drags her feet on over to The Pink Heart Society today to talk about the worst part of spinning the submission wheel -- rejection.

I have a friend who collected her rejection letters. Some were the dreaded form (a well-copied sheet of paper saying no thanks), some had personalized notes to show they did read the pages even though they didn't like them, some had hand written hints, some gave constructive feedback, and some did not.

She saved them all - so many they no longer fit in the binder. And then she sold. We all wanted her to burn them in effigy, but I think she's rather proud of what those rejections taught her. Just because one person doesn't believe in your story doesn't mean someone else won't love it.

I'm following her lead. I don't have the glorious perspective my friend now has (Delilah Marvelle scored Donads Maas for an agent and sold her Scandal series to HQN), I recognize that a story can be great and still not a great fit.

The comments on my latest rejection letter were very helpful. They liked the writing and the idea, but the characters weren't right. Hopefuly I now know what kind of characters they are looking for.

So, while rejection letters aren't the end of the world, they can sometimes feel like it. Take a day to comfort yourself, take whatever they offered in way of advice and process it, and then move on. There's more than one slush pile to conquer!

Compromising Positions just finalled in the Passionate Plume Contest. Was it the Kama Sutra yoga class, the chocolate, or something even more decadent that earned the honor? Check out Jenna's website and blog for more about her stories.


  1. Rejection is gutting Jenna, but you're absolutely right, it's only those writers who pick themselves up, brush themselves off and keep writing that get to turn that rejection into an acceptance.

    Congrats on finalling in the Passionate Plume btw.

  2. Great post Jenna! I have a friend who treats rejections like a game a la Stephen Cobert. She calls it "who's rejecting me today" It's helped her cope with the agent search and keeps her going.

  3. Yes, congratulations, Jenna.
    My old tutor used to say the only word you should shout when given a rejection is - 'Next'! To paraphrase the old saying: get rejected six times, send out a seventh attempt...

  4. Jenna, you're dead on. It's only an opinion. Even within the house, one editor may have a different take on your book than another. Even after selling, we need to remember this lesson, especially when reading reviews.
    Congrats on the Passionate Plume.

  5. Congratulations on the Passionate Plume, Jenna! Great post. Its so hard not to take rejections personally, and it certainly helps to know that all writers get them. As you say, it can be a great book, but not the one the publisher is looking for. We just have to keep looking for the perfect fit!

  6. Jenna, all of your books deserve to be front and center. They really do. What I love most about you (aside from your writing!) is your amazing glow and positive energy you always give back to the world. Rock on, girl, and know that I will always be in your section cheering from slush pile to greateness.