Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Rejection Collection by Brenda Anderson

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles
The typical author’s life is full of rejection. If we’re honest, few of us want to hear the word, No. More than anything we want the agent and/or editor to tell us, Yes. Rejection in this industry is rarely personal, yet it still stings.

In an effort to ease the pain, statistics are often thrown around:
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected 38 times.
  • The Help (Kathryn Stockett) received 45 recorded rejections.
  • One of my favorite authors, Charles Martin, received 80+ rejections before The Dead Don’t Dance was published.
That should give us hope, right?

We’re also told that rejection builds character. We learn to develop that all-important thick skin. The word No doesn’t equate to failure, it’s just a tool for turning us in a new direction.

Still, when those No’s accumulate, it can be difficult to separate rejection from failure. Difficult, but not impossible.

For me, it’s a matter of perspective. I’ve learned to celebrate rejection by collecting No’s.

Several years ago when my children were still toddlers, I sold Christmas Around the World products via a home party plan—think Tupperware, but with Christmas d├ęcor and gifts.

One of our most successful motivational campaigns encouraged us to collect No’s from potential hostesses. Prizes were offered for those who collected the most rejections. The theory behind the program was that in the process of getting those No’s we’d also gather several Yes’s.

And it worked. That fall I collected so many Yes’s among the No’s that I was able to treat my family to a trip to Disney World.

That same Rejection Collection theory applies to writers. Before we can hear a Yes, we have to put ourselves out there to be rejected, and that can be frightening. But, by turning our mindset around and telling ourselves our goal is to collect No’s, it’s much easier to swallow the rejection.

My goal as a writer is to collect 100 No’s. In order to get that many, I have to make a minimum of 100 connections with editors, agents, or publishers, be it sending a query, proposal, or meeting with them one-on-one at a conference. Since I’ve started my unique collection, I’ve gathered 20 No’s, and each No is celebrated as it brings me one rejection closer to my goal.

In that same time, I’ve also accumulated several Yes’s: requests for proposals and full manuscripts, and, this year, a Genesis final.

I’ve yet to receive that Yes from an agent or publisher, but that’s okay. I still need to add 80 No’s to my collection. I’ve no doubt I’ll receive that elusive Yes along the way. In the meantime, I’ll keep on celebrating my rejections. ☺
About Brenda Anderson
Brenda Anderson graduated from Concordia College in St. Paul with a B.A. in Literature/Communications. She has completed six full-length novels. In 2012, her contemporary romance novel was a Finalist in the contemporary romance category of the ACFW Genesis contest and her women’s fiction novel was a semi-finalist in the Genesis. She is a member of the ACFW, the ACFW-Minnesota Chapter (MN-NICE), and the Minnesota Christian Writer’s Guild. She is a regular contributor to the blog InkspirationalMessages.com. Brenda and her husband live in Minneapolis, Minnesota with their three children and one sassy cat.

Website: http://brendaandersonbooks.com/
Blog: http://inkspirationalmessages.com/