Writing the Great American…Reject

You’ve been working on it for years. It’s your greatest piece of prose ever. It’s fresh, new…no, it’s important. This is not so much a book, it’s a literary guiding light for the future of humanity. It is the heart of every man and woman, the captured essence of godliness, the literal voice of a generation. It is everything you hoped it would be, a culmination of all the blood, sweat and tears and the procrastination and hours spent pouring over it night after night after night. It is, quite simply, the greatest book of all time.

Now if only it would stop getting rejected.

We all know that writer that can’t quite understand why he or she isn’t screaming up any and all bestseller lists even though they literally finished writing a month ago. We’ve heard them say, “they just don’t get it” as they talk about the latest rejection. If we’re being totally honest, we’ve probably all been that writer before. And we’ve all been rejected. Every single one of us.

Let me say that again. Every single writer ever has faced rejection. Yes, your favorite writer, the most legendary writers of the greatest literary works of all time…all of them have been rejected, some way more than you and me. Don’t believe me, check out this link.


I know, right? I don’t know about you, but I find it comforting. I’ve never really been one to fear rejection as I’m a pretty optimistic guy and just look ahead to the next try. That goes for pretty much every aspect of my life, but none more so than with my writing career. If it’s not a fit for one, it damn well will be a fit for another. But yes, even with the number of books I’ve worked on that have been published, it can still be disheartening to hear constant rejection after rejection. So when I see books like Lolita, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chicken Soup for the Soul and others that got rejected but eventually went on to be huge critical and financial achievements, it refills that glass to half full.

I tell my clients all the time that publishing is truly a numbers game. That goes for whether you’re seeking a publisher or seeking an agent. Chances are you’re going to have to get your work seen by dozens and dozens to even catch a sniff of interest. And that’s just for the first phase. It just it what it is. It’s not that the work isn’t necessarily up to par, it’s just that it’s not what they’re looking for at the moment. You have to remember that even the small publishers get inundated with pitches for new books day after day. Being a published author is a glamorous profession (in theory) and one that many, many people are trying to pursue. As such, publishers and agents big and small are extremely picky and only show interest in what they need in their portfolio at the time. To be honest, you need a little luck and perfect timing to even get considered.

So what do you do? Well, first things first, make sure ALL of your materials are ready and the best they can be. That includes your query, pitch package, sample chapters and the manuscript itself. It needs to be clean, professionally organized, formatted and targeted to your prospective publishing partners. This is where I can help you. If you’re ready to pitch, get in touch with me and I will make sure you have everything in line as that will help boost your odds in getting seen.

Get ‘em out there and then…be patient. Believe in yourself and in the work. If you’ve got a great idea that you’ve executed well, eventually you’ll find the right person to see it. Be prepared, know where you’re sending to and that they’re actually looking for ideas that match yours, and have plenty of backups. Accept that it could take months or even years to find the right match. And hey, worse comes to worse, you can always self-publish and then look again later, which isn’t the end of the world (but that’s a topic for a different blog).

For now, find your top 20 publishers or agent, have a backup list of 20 more and another backup list of 20 more. Send them out in that order, giving enough time (a month or two) for a response or a rejection. Keep the faith! And anytime you’re feeling down, just take a look at that link again. Take comfort in knowing that you and the greats have shared the same agony on your ways to great things.

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