Rejection and Recovery

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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PhilipIsles
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Rejection and Recovery

Post by PhilipIsles » January 3rd, 2011, 8:58 am

I thought this area might be a good place to share a short piece I wrote about an important aspect of rejection--mainly, the importance/relevance of recovery when dealing with it.You can read the original article on my blog too.

Rejection and Recovery
"Fall down 8 times, get up 9"
-Traditional Buddhist saying


Learning to accept rejection is imperative for any writer. Most writers realize this quickly. Or they make the mistake of self-publishing (guilty as charged). But one important aspect of rejection that many do not consider is recovery, which I learned about through physical fitness.

In cardio fitness, such as running or biking, performance is not only measured in how well one's heart rate performs, but also how quickly the heart rate returns to normal. This rate of recovery after the sprint or interval is considered just as important as the heart's performance during the activity itself.

About a year ago, my manuscript was submitted to a top agency, and I was waiting to hear back. There were a lot of positive indicators pointing at an offer of representation, and I allowed myself to get my hopes up: the agent reviewing the material had asked me for more material, wanted to know more about me...

This was the farthest I had ever been towards obtaining representation, and I was naturally excited.

When I got the call, I pulled my car to the side of the road to give the agent my full attention. I was rejected, and I took it hard, as one might expect, but for the first time in my life I witnessed my own process of recovery, and it was a crucial, vital lesson. As I got back on the road and drove off, I felt my dashed hopes of representation slowly transition back to the love of my material. I was startled by how quickly this transition took place in me, having expected to deal with it for days. But it was gone, and I was back on the road.

I realized that, much like the professional athlete training to push himself farther and farther, I had pushed my heart harder, by dealing with a bigger possibilitiy/dream than I had ever experienced before. My heart not only dealt with the bigger opportunity--and the hopes and dreams that came with it--it also recovered from it. This moment of recovery struck me as a key moment in my development as a professional writer.

If you can't recover from rejection, you won't be able to handle the next opportunities or possibilities that come/are coming down the road, in the same way that athlete wouldn't be able to sprint if he doesn't recover. Recovery is just as crucial on the other, positive end of rejection: success and acceptance. If you don't recover from success--if you don't get back to a state of preparing for the next great sprint--there won't be chances for greater, higher success.

mudpuppy
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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by mudpuppy » January 3rd, 2011, 5:07 pm

Wow. This right here was the reality check that I needed. Thanks for sharing this. :)

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shadow
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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by shadow » January 14th, 2011, 2:10 pm

I agree with this. My motto is that if you want it hard enough, you cannot fail.
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Down the well
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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by Down the well » January 14th, 2011, 3:14 pm

Agreed. Aside from talent, the best traits a writer can have are perseverance and resiliency.

I read on Querytracker this morning a success story about a guy who received over two hundred rejections before finding his agent. That's a lot of rejection, and I don't know anyone who wouldn't get discouraged by it, but he didn't give up. You gotta respect tenacity like that. :)

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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by CafeCliche » January 15th, 2011, 10:23 am

I really admire your resilience! That split-second transition from excited and hopeful to crushed must have stung. Every time I hear about an agent who calls people to reject them, it boggles my mind.

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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by Claudie » January 15th, 2011, 10:49 am

I don't know, CafeCliche. If you've had a lot of exchanges with the agents, I can understand why he'd take the time to make it personal. In this case, the agent had asked for more material, had taken information on the client, etc. I think it's nice of him/her to call. We're always asking for personalised rejections. You don't get more personalised than that, I think!

And PhilipIsles, I love this post.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

CafeCliche
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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by CafeCliche » January 18th, 2011, 4:01 pm

I'm of two minds on it. On one hand, the story must have made an impact on the agent if they took the time to call, so I think it's a very nice gesture. But on the other, it's so rare that most people would immediately assume that they were calling with good news. That's the part that makes me wince when I hear about it.

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cheekychook
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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by cheekychook » January 18th, 2011, 7:58 pm

In an industry where it is referred to as getting "the call" the ringing phone with the agent listed on caller ID would make one inclined to think it's good news. That makes it a bigger blow to hear a rejection. I think it's nice for an agent to take the time to give helpful feedback---more than nice, I think it's fantastic (not to mention rare)---but I have to say an email rejection with a few helpful notes or, if the agent really wants to discuss it, an email rejection with the option of "if you'd like to discuss this..." and the option of a call. That's just me. I wouldn't have wanted a call telling me I didn't get into a college or didn't get a job either.
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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by oldhousejunkie » January 22nd, 2011, 3:49 pm

cheekychook wrote:In an industry where it is referred to as getting "the call" the ringing phone with the agent listed on caller ID would make one inclined to think it's good news. That makes it a bigger blow to hear a rejection. I think it's nice for an agent to take the time to give helpful feedback---more than nice, I think it's fantastic (not to mention rare)---but I have to say an email rejection with a few helpful notes or, if the agent really wants to discuss it, an email rejection with the option of "if you'd like to discuss this..." and the option of a call. That's just me. I wouldn't have wanted a call telling me I didn't get into a college or didn't get a job either.

I totally agree! While I appreciate the personal phone call, what's worse than thinking you've got it only to find out you didn't? I've been looking for a job for the past year (along with a couple million other Americans) and so far, I've received two calls following interviews to tell me that I was an excellent candidate but they decided to go in another direction. What a bummer! Of course, I recently interviewed for a job that I was certain I would get. Instead I got an impersonal e-mail that was sent out to EVERYONE including those applicants who didn't even get an interview. Now that was a let down. :-(

But I will say that my recent endeavors have made me more grateful for any kind of contact. Apparently the flood of applicants has convinced the HR people that they are absolved from sending out any notice of the position being filled. I understand that it's a time consuming process, but so is applying! At least I will have this experience to keep me in check when I start querying!

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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by PR Griffin » February 28th, 2011, 6:51 am

Good advice, there can be nothing worse than knowing in order to succeed you must first fail. It's like invasive surgery- you have to be cut to get better. I try to be as realistic as possible one piece of advice I cling to is this: In order to make progress you have to show progress. When I get a few rejections (short stories mostly at the moment) I collect my previous works and go over them again. Can I make them better, what needs to be cut? Most importantly: Have I improved since I wrote them? (bearing in mind some magazines/agencies take months to get back in touch.)
If I feel I have then it lessens the sting. If I haven't, well I have more work to do for there is always room for improvement.
Being rejected is part of writing. Dealing with rejection is a part of life. But oh, how sweet it is when you get a yes instead of a no.

Holand Peterson
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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by Holand Peterson » March 7th, 2011, 2:55 pm

Thanks, buddy. The most important help for me in dealing with rejection is knowing that everyone else deals with it too, and that I'm not the only one that has to stomp down the little tears, tighten the belt, and get back to work with each kick in the pants. Thanks a bunch for sharing.

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Re: Rejection and Recovery

Post by mmcdonald64 » June 10th, 2011, 11:01 pm

Down the well wrote:Agreed. Aside from talent, the best traits a writer can have are perseverance and resiliency.

I read on Querytracker this morning a success story about a guy who received over two hundred rejections before finding his agent. That's a lot of rejection, and I don't know anyone who wouldn't get discouraged by it, but he didn't give up. You gotta respect tenacity like that. :)
Remember there are many different paths to take. I felt like I had hit a dead end last May. I'd had over 100 rejections, and had pretty much run out of agents for my genre, so I self-pubbed on Kindle. I didn't have instant success, but I kept plugging away and wrote a sequel to my first book, and self pubbed that too. It took almost exactly a year for my sales to take off. I have one book in the top 50 on Amazon's store, and the sequel in the top 200. Right now, they have Sunshine Deals going, so not only am I competing and holding my own with the regular trad. pubbed, but also the former bestsellers all discounted to 99cents-$2.99, the same price range as my books.

I'm now about twenty percent done with the third book in the series, and going by downloads, (many were free when Amazon made my book free for a week), I will have a reader base of over 60,000 or more when the third book comes out.

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