I got a rejection letter the other day for a book I wrote. It’s not the first time my work has been rejected. Won’t be the last time. I am a writer, after all.
Thanks so much for submitting When You Go on a Mission to [publishing company] for our consideration. I wish I had better news, but we have decided it is not a book we will be able to publish.
We really loved the way you structured the book—the short stanzas with the repeating phrase would hold the attention of a small child very well. We also appreciated the simple, effective way you talked about missionary work and the many things that make it exciting. We especially enjoyed the way you wrote your testimony into the book so naturally and seamlessly.
All that being said, then, why didn’t we accept the book for publication? Unfortunately, the economy has absolutely battered the LDS publishing and bookselling market, and we have had to cut back and be much more conservative on the books we accept for publication, especially illustrated children’s books.
I’m so sorry. I wish things could have turned out differently on this manuscript. I hope you will continue to write, and if you decide to try a different genre for an adult market, I hope you’ll consider submitting it to [publishing company] for our consideration.
Best of luck as you continue to search for a publisher for your book.
First, I am well aware that a personalized rejection letter is rare and awesome. It means that you really did a good job…it’s a “Man, I wish we could, but we can’t.” I much prefer those over the form letters.
But it still just kind of hurts a little, right? I mean, because as much as they liked it, I still won’t have a published book.
Come to think of it, rejection just isn’t that much fun. Rejection makes you feel like your work is not good enough or you are not good enough, cool enough, or creative enough. You feel like everyone else is somehow one-upping you on everything. You feel like no matter how hard you try, the world is just against you.
But what we learn from rejection is what fascinates me. Because it usually falls into one of these categories:
1) Something better is waiting
2) We’re not quite there, but almost there, and with a little more effort, we’ll make it
3) Such is life until we get to #1 or #2
Something better is waiting
In seventh grade, I was cut from the volleyball team. I went to a junior high with 300 students. There couldn’t have been that many who tried out, so really very few people were cut…but I managed to be one of them. However, because I didn’t make volleyball, I decided to try out for NAL (National Academic League). I know, I’m a nerd, right? Of course I am. And I loved it! And I did it for the next two years as well. And my last year we were part of the national championships and placed 5th in the nation. Not only that, but it ignited in me an even deeper passion for learning and discovering everything there was to know about anything. Definitely turned out better for me academically in the long run.
In like manner, you would never have guessed this, but I was rejected the first year I applied to my MBA program. In fact I was rejected for several programs at two different schools. I was told to apply again when I had more work experience (granted, one year of work experience is hardly enough for major MBA programs, so I should have been expecting a rejection). But it still hurt. Yet in the following year, I refined what I wanted to do with my career and then applied to just one program…the one that I felt was going to be the best option for me. And I got in.
That experience was catered for me. It was a better time in my life and in my career. That extra year helped me solidify some questions about my future so that when I started the program I was ready to run full speed ahead. My classmates and teammates were perfectly placed to help me get where I needed to go. Sometimes, rejection just means something better is waiting for us. In most cases in my life, I feel like God has perfectly orchestrated a rejection to guide me to where I really needed to be. And what’s not to like about that?
We’re not quite there
Most of my experience in writing is definitely in this category. It is a matter of refining, rewriting, reediting, reworking, re-everythinging! In one of my many past internships, I had an editor who tore my work apart. Every day. I wrote the articles, she edited them to death. I rewrote, she did the same thing. I reworked, she blasted it. I thought I was a failure. But she knew I was being molded into something better. And eventually the article was good enough and it would be published.
I can’t necessarily say that I am “there” yet in terms of being a great writer or editor, but I currently work on some very high-visibility websites and content. And all those times of not quite being “there” have helped me try again when my work isn’t quite up to snuff. And it has driven me to take criticism well, to take advice from many key players and condense it into something that pleases everyone, and most importantly, to develop a final product that is not rejected, but instead pushed forward. With a little more effort, I have turned many rejections into acceptions (ok, that’s not a real word, but it sounded better in the sentence).
Such Is Life
Of course, there are always the “such is life” situations. To these I would say, just because we can’t see something better now, or see any purpose now, does not mean that rejection is inherently bad for us! Here I would ascribe most relationships in my life to this point, because how can you write about rejection and not talk about dating? Right? (You can stop reading if you’re married, ok?)
I can’t say that I have found “something better” yet and I can’t say that I’ve made it “there” yet because I haven’t. So what of all those experiences until now that don’t fit in those categories?
What of all the times you have felt you are not good enough or that you’ve been told you’re “too good” for someone in a relationship (is there really even such a thing? I’ll complain about that later.) What of the times when it just “isn’t right” or the other person just isn’t feeling it or “it’s not you, it’s me”? What of the times where someone likes you, but cannot commit? Or those who reject you for your looks or for your intelligence (or lack thereof) or for your interests or for your family or for whatever! What of all those rejections?
That is just part of life. So why, in relationships, do we pine over someone who rejected us? Why, in applying for jobs and not being offered anything do we hate the companies that turned us down? Why, in trying out for sports or plays or whatever, do we become bitter toward those who make it when we don’t? Well, because sometimes it just plain stinks. I can’t pretend that I haven’t felt all those emotions before. And I can’t pretend that I deal with rejection gracefully.
But thankfully the “such is life” answer to rejection is kind to us:
It is a temporary phase and it will pass us by.
Something better will come.
And one day we will all make it “there”.
So until then, “Best of luck as you continue to search”.
Oh, and while I’m at it, who knows anything about self-publishing? 😉
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