Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When the Answer is “Not for Us” by Margaret Brownley

Margaret Brownley
Rejections! Who wants them? Who needs them?

Years ago I would have answered a resounding “no one!” Rejections can be demoralizing and send a writer’s fragile soul into a tailspin. But after having published twenty-eight books, I now realize the value of that dreaded “not for us” letter. Some of my rejections even turned out to be blessings.

My first historical novel was rejected seventeen times. On the eighteenth try it sold and it sold big enough to help launch a new publishing line. That wouldn’t have happened had an editor snapped it up during those early submissions. Nor would it have happened had I not kept revising, polishing and sending it out.

That experience taught me that rejections can offer second, third and even umpteen chances to try again and get it right. Even books that went on to win major literary awards were once rejected, some many times. What would have happened had R.K. Rowlings given up after the twelfth Harry Potter rejection?

Matthew 10:14 says “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet . . . .” This tells us that we’re to put rejection behind us and move on. Shaking off hurtful rejections is easier done if we don’t take them personally.

Books are rejected for numerous reasons, many of which have nothing to do with quality of writing. Years ago, I attended a conference where one of the speakers introduced herself as “The editor who turned down The Thorn Birds.” I even heard an editor admit to rejecting a manuscript because the protagonist had the same name as her ex. Yep, editors are human, too, and they can make mistakes.

Sometimes a rejection simply means the timing is wrong. The market might not be favorable to your particular genre. Many of my published westerns were rejected years earlier because of the market. I waited and when the market turned in my favor, I pounced and my patience paid off.

Sometimes, you have to man-up and admit that some books don’t deserve to be published, even the ones we love. I wrote four books before selling my first and I will be forever grateful that two of them never saw the light of day. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the sad truth is that those two books weren’t worthy of a reader’s attention.

So how do you know if a book is good enough for publication? How do you keep going when all the rejections say stop? Sometimes the hardest part of writing is finding an honest critic.

Don’t trust a family member or even a friend who says your book is wonderful. Instead, enter contests. The judges won’t worry about hurting your feelings. If you scores are consistently low, you have work to do.

A Bride for All Seasons
by Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton,
Mary Connealy and Robin Lee Hatcher
I once paid a published author (yes paid!) to read the first three chapters of my book. Pay someone to read your manuscript and you’ll get an honest critique. Her comments were brutal, but I took her notes seriously, did the revisions and the book sold the next time out.

Rejections are never fun, but neither are they the end of a story; sometimes they are only the beginning . . . .
About the Author
Margaret Brownley is a N.Y. Times bestselling author and Romance Writers of American RITA A Bride for all Seasons (with Robin Lee Hatcher, Mary Connealy and Debra Clopton). The next book in her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series Gunpowder Tea will be released October 2013. Margaret can be reached through her website: www.margaretbrownley.com
finalist. Look for Margaret’s story in June’s mail order bride collection,

10 comments:

  1. Thanks, Margaret. That's an encouraging post for those of us well acquainted with those "not for us" responses.

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  2. Hi Sandra, Every writer is well acquainted with rejections, even multi-published ones. The trick is not to let rejections stand in the way of success!

    Take care and keep writing!

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  3. I love this post, Margaret! How encouraging, and I especially like how you tie Matt 10:14 with rejection. Thanks!

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  4. Hi Dora, I think Matt 10:14 should be posted over every writer's desk. I can't tell you how many times I had to shake off my feet and keep going. But, hey, it works!

    Have a great week!

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  5. Margaret, this article is timely for me. I'm waiting now to see if I'll receive a "yes" or a "no." Thanks for your encouragement and words of wisdom.

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    1. Hi Dawn, I know what that feels like. Hope you have something else you're working on. That helps to pass the time. Good luck!

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    2. Yes, I do! And you're right. Having another project to focus on does help.

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  6. Such a good post, Margaret. Thanks for sharing your experience. It gives us all a better perspective and hope ... as we wait!

    Sue

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    1. Thank you, Sue! Waiting is hard. I'm convinced that God made me a writer to teach me patience! :)

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