In order to make it in the writing world, an aspiring author has to realize two things:
1. Your work is going to be "rejected" by others at some point in your career.
2. This will probably happen more often than you would like.
It can come in many forms. Sometimes the "rejection" can come by a publisher simply not responding at all to your query letter. That happened to me back in March of 2011 when I sent out my very first story into the world. I had the naive notion just because my immediate family "loved" my story that everyone else would. What a rookie mistake on my part, but one I'm sure most other aspiring authors can relate to. That publisher did me a favor by NOT taking time out of their busy work day to tell me just how unprepared I was as a writer to start submitting my work. But as I grew as a writer and learned what editors expect from the work making its way to their desks, I began to wonder if maybe what we commonly call a "rejection letter" should be called something else instead.
Even the sound of the word has a negative ring to it. The word implies the writer is not good enough or worthy enough to become a published author. Maybe sometimes someone just isn't cut out to be a writer and they are fooling themselves. But a lot of times a manuscript is "rejected" because a mistake was made and it was sent to an editor who doesn't publish that particular genre. Sometimes the editor has more than their fair share of one particular type of story and simply doesn't want to take on another one just like their current lineup. Sometimes the editor doesn't feel enough personal connection with the story to pursue the hard task of taking it all the way to publication. Just because someone "rejects" your story doesn't mean they are "rejecting" YOU and it doesn't necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your story either.
My manuscript for THE STORY CATCHER was "rejected" by a number of agents and editors before being picked up by Anaiah Press. My editor, Jessica Schmeidler, saw something in my story that others did not. Maybe she even saw something in ME as an writer other people haven't connected with yet. I don't know why I was lucky enough for Jessica to want to work with me, but I do know one thing...I don't like to think of those other missed opportunities to be published as being "rejected".
So I plan to do something about it.
I'd like to suggest that from now agents and publishers who reply to query letters start sending out REFLECTION letters instead of REJECTION letters. These letters would REFLECT on the strong points of the submitted manuscripts and then give insight as to why an offer of publication or representation couldn't be made...not right for them, didn't connect with the story line, currently have similar stories, etc.
We writers should also not take those replies as REJECTION, but as opportunities to REFLECT upon our work and our roles as aspiring authors. We need to REFLECT on the strength of our stories...is it as polished as we could have made it? Are we sending our work to the right people to begin with? Are there ways we can grow as writers so we may increase our chances of becoming published in the future?
The writing world is a harsh enough place without having to struggle with the idea of feeling "rejected". How about we rename the REJECTION LETTER and start calling it the REFLECTION LETTER? I would even be willing to start a petition to get the name changed but I'm wondering one thing...
Would YOU sign it?