February 18, 2021-As authors, we hear the word “no” a lot more often than we’d like to. But what if I told you that there’s a positive aspect to “no”. Let’s back up for a minute, rejection can be painful, but it’s part of life. You’re not the only one who’s ever been rejected by a publisher, magazine, blog site, or writing contest; rejection is common and I’m here to tell you to embrace it!
We fear rejections as humans because it’s part of our make up, our biology, and is reinforced by our instincts to keep us alive. That good ole reptilian brain is alive and well! Rejection lights up the same part of the brain that allows us to feel physical pain, can you believe it? Rejection=physical trauma according to brain scans done on subjects by the U of Michigan Medical School. There is an evolutionary foundation to the trauma associated with rejection. Being left out by our tribe during the caveman days would leave us to face dangerous animals, or challenging environments on our own and that could lead to injury or death! No wonder we hate rejection, it’s a built in survival tool.
I receive approximately 175 manuscript submissions per month and I reject most of them for various reasons. Perhaps it’s not a good fit for our House, or we have enough subject matter of a particular topic in our roster, or we’ve filled our schedule for the next two years with new releases. No matter the reason, it’s NEVER personal. Rejection is never a judgement on who you are. We need to rethink what rejection means; it’s merely a subjective opinion. The entire world isn’t evaluating your skills/abilities, it’s just me and maybe I’ve got it wrong.
Facing rejection is just a matter of trying again, it’s a statistical/numbers game. One of the first things that I learned while studying marketing, was that if you want one person to say yes, you have to get 99 people to say no. If we flip that around, all we need to do is ask 100 people for what we want before one of them says yes. 99 people may say no, but all it takes is one yes!
The most successful authors I’ve had the pleasure of working with, have always done one thing differently than others who have been rejected before them. They ask how. Not how could you possibly reject my wonderful writing, but instead, how can I improve my writing? How can I improve my chances of getting a publishing deal? How can I get better? That’s what separates the haves from the have nots.
So, the next time you’re feeling upset about being rejected (it’s going to happen more than once, trust me) remember these things:
- Have you asked enough people? Remember the 1/100 rule. 99 no’s will equal 1 yes.
- Is the rejecting person’s opinion subjective? Probably, because especially in the art field, art is always subjective.
- Are you taking rejection too personally? Rejection is not a reflection. Nothing in this business is personal.
- Have you asked how you can improve? What can you do to improve your writing? What can you do to hone your skills? Are you open to resubmission after I fix what you’ve mentioned? etc.
- Have you set the stage for yes? This means, have you checked the submission guidelines? Have you addressed the correct person for your query? Have you polished your final draft? Have you built your author platform? Have you followed the industry standards for your submission? etc.
So, I’m telling you to embrace the word no. Because every no gets you closer to yes. To check out my number 1, best selling book Advice from a publisher, click here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca