Rejection Inspires

I recently discovered Gail Carson Levine’s blog, which has given me ample material for today’s post. Ella Enchanted is one of her most well-known books made even more famous by the movie starring Anne Hathaway. It is a lovely fantasy book that features a fearsome heroine with a curse from her fairy godmother. Levine has gone on to write many books for children and young adults, but one this is true about all writers. We must all suffer rejection until we have our writing published.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

In her post, Aw, rejection dejection, Levine was asked by her readers for advice on handling rejection and other publishing pitfalls. The result is a testament to years of rejection before you find the right publisher/editor to fall in love with your book. While her prized Ella Enchanted was only rejected once, Levine suffered 9 long years of rejections for much of her work.

She described a rejection letter he received for a children’s picture book, where the editor misspelled the name of her book in addition to rejecting her idea. Humiliation takes over your confidence in these situations, and nothing can fix how you feel. The important part to remember when receiving rejection is this:


I don’t mean to yell at you on my blog, but writers–drill it into your head. No matter what people say or how many rejections you get. If only one person has liked something you’ve written so far, then there is room for improvement. With almost 7 billion people in the world, your odds are good! Say one out of every 100 people like your book. That’s 70,000,000 people that would like your book. Now by comparison it may not seem like a lot. But if you’re making money off that book, who cares about the other 99%? It doesn’t matter how many publishers or editors reject your work. The important part is that someone wants to read it. Our goal as writers is to affect our readers in a way that changes their live.

The optimism Levine kept throughout her 9 years was helped by more descriptive criticisms, and the determination to make her writing better than before. Keep a close support group of other writers, friends, and family. With a powerful support group, you can accomplish so much more than just going alone. If you lose your self-confidence, you may not have the drive to write. You must be vigilant in the learning process. Never stop honing your craft. The moment you think you are the best writer you can be is the moment people stop reading what you’ve written.

I have a long road to get to “okay writer”, but at least I have accepted the work it will take. If I convince myself I don’t need to learn, then no one will be interested in what I have to say. So, I stay strong, force myself to push forwards, and always remember that not everyone will like my stuff. It’s okay 🙂

Happy reading and writing all! And most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP!


Filed under Idea of the Day

7 responses to “Rejection Inspires

  1. Good words! I very recently queried an agent for the first time and got my first rejection. Even when you know it’s going to happen because it happens to everyone, that first one’s still a knock.

    • I haven’t submitted any queries yet, so I haven’t received any rejection letters. However, creative writing contests give you a taste of what rejection will feel like later. What kind of writing did you submit? I know that sending queries has been an age old technique, but in the new wave of digital self-publishing we, as budding writers, may be able to bypass the traditional queries and publish to the web without rejection. It’s always an option after so many rejections, and something to keep in the back of your mind. For you, I wouldn’t give up since it’s your first one. We have to try every avenue to get our work out there, and rejection is a sacrifice we all must make. 🙂

      • Very true.

        My submission was a query for a novel. I’m definitely not giving up, though. I’ve already queried again and reworked my ‘elevator pitch’ to be even stronger for the one after that. As I wrote in a post about it–and you seem to be expressing a similar sentiment here–this story is getting out there, dammit.

        I’ve considered self-publishing, but honestly, my experience with self-published work has led me to steer away from it. I know there’s good stuff out there, but I like the current model with all its bars to jump and people to impress. When you pick up a book in a store, you know at least one other breathing human being besides the author thought it was worth A) the paper it’s printed on and B) the time of life it takes to read. Doesn’t guarantee that everything published is good, of course (god, no), but it does mean each book passed through some degree of trial by fire.

        Call me old fashioned, or maybe I just put too high a premium on my time, but I’m just not willing to sort through a bunch of self-indulgent junk to find one or two well-crafted pieces of art. I’m a busy guy; that Netflix instant queue isn’t going to watch itself.

      • I agree fully! There is a huge downside to the instant download books that just have to pay a fee to get published. A lot of the Amazon books are dealing with bad reviews and reputations because every grandmother wants to write a memoir and stick on there. It degrades the quality for those who do have the skill and want to put their work on there for people to see. However, dealing with the big 6 publishers is getting harder each day. For us, we must jump through dozens more hurdles because publishing houses aren’t picking the good quality books, but ANYTHING they see as money makers. It make it harder for us to find a place in a sea full of bad writing and unworthy authors. At the same time, there is a rise in smaller publishing companies that cater to individual sub-genres so specific that if you find you niche, they will snatch you up. During my residency we have a representative from Barnes and Noble come in to describe the situation of publishing. While I don’t have anything nearly ready for publication, they key is to find a good trustworthy agent, and find your niche. If you know the right place to sell your book to, then it will be much easier to get published. My plan is this: go first for the big 6, if it doesn’t work look into the smaller press companies and find what fits my book. Then once I am established in print also publish digitally because if I get the rights to the digital copy, I don’t have to worry about it later. As old-fashioned as I am, the sales for e-books (especially in US) are undeniable, If I ignore that avenue of publishing, I’m ignoring an entire demographic of readers who might not pick up my book otherwise. We’re lucky because the technology is fresh and exciting. This is the time to be dual publishing or at the very least looking into the upcoming e-publishers out there who can help you publish your book to lots of willing readers.

  2. Very insightful post here. I remember STILL my first rejection (there’s been a boatload since, but the first one still stings the most). I’m still “agent-less” but I will never give up! Fark ’em, I say! 😀

    Johnny, good luck to you. I know you’ll make it, I can read it in your post. You, too, Amy. You both already strike me as pro’s.

    If either of you decide to self-pub, let me know. I’d be happy to do an Amazon review for you (honest tho, so watch out!) or blurb — hopefully I’ll be published by then and it will mean something. 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I’m nowhere near pro! I’m just starting out, but I’ve learned a lot already from some great teachers, and I have an open mind. I don’t have anything ready to publish, but when I do I have a plan. For those nasty rejections (mailed or emailed), I will keep them as a reminder of the few people who don’t like my stories. I can either send them different ones or search for the people who do like what I write. It’s a grueling future, but one I look forward to having. The thrill of possibly reaching my future readers gives me butterflies. Now, I must return to my school work. Thank for the mention on Twitter, too!

    • Thanks Carl, I really appreciate it!

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