M.J.’s recent blog on the query process got me thinking about my own query experience, and more specifically about rejection.
They say Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times, Stephen King’s Carrie, 30 times, Harry Potter, 12 times, The Help, 60 times, and what might be the all-time winner among breakout successes, Chicken Soup for the Soul, a whopping 140 times.
Now I haven’t actually counted my rejections, but I think it’s fair to say, I am ahead of Harry Potter, Carrie, and Gone with the Wind and closing in on The Help.
Over the years, I’ve been rejected in a myriad of ways:
- The “Email query letter only lost in the black hole never to be heard from again”
- The automatic “Thanks but my list if full, we’re not taking on new clients”
- The “I read your query letter and it’s not for me”
- The “I read your query and synopsis and have to pass”
- The “Thanks for sending the partial I requested, but I just didn’t love it as much as I expected”
- The “Thanks for sending the requested MS. You are a talented writer and/or you’ve written a compelling story—but alas I’m not sure I can sell this”
- The “Your story and writing are compelling, but I am not as passionate as I must be to take on a debut novelist”
- The “I’d like to move forward with your project” YEAH, WOW, WOOHOO! (Only to decide a few months later to leave agenting as a career!)
There are more versions, but you get the idea. The main reason I can’t give you an accurate rejection tally is that with all the variation in rejections, I am not quite sure what to count.
When I first started querying every form of rejection had the same ability to reduce me to tears and crush my writing ego. Over time, as the rejections mounted and I toughened up, I decided that not all rejections are created equally. Today, it feels much different to have someone not respond to or pass after reading a one page query letter than declining representation after reading the entire novel.
Even if they are different levels of rejection, my gut says you probably count each of them when you tally up. Faced with the possibility of accumulating more loathsome rejections than Chicken Soup for the Soul, I decided to put an end to the traditional query process, and self-publish my novel, Peace by Piece, instead.
So, how about you? Have you figured out the formula for tallying rejections? And do you loath them, too?
Six years after fleeing college and Thomas’s betrayal, Maggie has nearly given up on love. Enter Izzie, a motherless eight year old, and every maternal instinct kicks-in. There is not first love thrill with Izzie’s dad, but Maggie lets herself believe loving Izzie will be enough to finally lock Thomas out of her heart.
Dealing with unshakable first love, family, relationships, the difficulties of being a step-partent–all overshadowed by the curse of anorexia and bulimia–Peace by Piece is ultimately about hope and second chances.
Carol Fragale Brill’s first novel, Peace by Peace is available at:
Carol Fragale Brill, earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Poets and Writers named her fiction the 2010 Maureen Egen Writer’s Exchange first runner-up, A novel excerpt turned short story was selected as a favorite for the Philadelphia Stories Anthology. She writes book reviews for New York Journal of Books. Her work has also been published in Wide Array, Philadelphia Stories, and The Press of Atlantic City. Find her blog at www.4broadminds.blogspot.com/