The Page a Day Writers Group

Dear Publishing Industry, Please Like Me.

Posted on: April 11, 2010

I have begun the arduous journey of finding an agent and getting my memoir, HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO: A MOTHER’S STORY, published.  And within nine hours and thirteen minutes of emailing my first query letter, I had a rejection.

How did I feel?  I felt sad, depressed, pissed.  It sucks being rejected.  S-U-C-K-S!!  This seems especially true with my memoir.  So if you don’t like my writing, you don’t like my story and you don’t like me.

When I got the rejection from the agent, I had a pity party for a few minutes.  Then I went to the internet to see whose elite company I was now in.  Here’s what I found:

  1. Stephen King was rejected for Carrie dozens of times.  One of the publishers rejected King with:  “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”
  2. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence “for your own sake do not publish this book.”
  3. Animal Farm by George Orwell “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”
  4. Judy Blume received “nothing but rejections” for two years. “I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be. Each time I sent a story or book off to a publisher, I would sit down and begin something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent.”

Dr. Seuss, JK RowlingMargaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind,  and Anne Frank were all rejected, numerous times.  I’m in good company, right?  Still, how can I take the sting out of these rejections?  And when I say sting I mean, how can I prevent myself from hurling my computer through the window and vowing never, ever, ever to write again.

Here’s some advice from those who have gone before me:

Barbara Kingsolver: “This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”

Kate Braverman: “Writing is like hunting. There are brutally cold afternoons with nothing in sight, only the wind and your breaking heart. Then the moment when you bag something big. The entire process is beyond intoxicating.”

James Scott Bell says of rejection, “First, rejection is not personal.  It is a rejection of a piece of writing you’ve put out.  Writer Ron Goulart said, ‘Never assume that a rejection of your stuff is also a rejection of you as a person. Unless it’s accompanied by a punch in the nose.’ Secondly, rejection happens to the best.  It will happen to you.  Third, rejection can point the way.  If an agent or publisher has taken the time to provide criticism.  Take it.  This is a gift.  Finally, rejection is not final.  Keep writing.  Get better.  Persistence is the key to getting published.”

When I was looking for an agent for my novel, I can’t tell you the number of form rejections I got with, “I wanted to love it, but I didn’t.”  Lisa Tucker, a published novelist and my mentor and friend said, “You want an agent to love it.  You want them to finish reading your manuscript in one sitting.  Remember this is a business. Love means that the agent is going to bat for you until it’s published.  And you think you think it sucks getting rejected by agents? Try being an agent going to publishers.  They get rejected more than you do because they represent a number of writers.”

Dear Publishing Industry, I like you.  Do you like me?

Kind regards-Michelle Murphy Zive


1 Response to "Dear Publishing Industry, Please Like Me."

Thanks for the reminder. I want to start sending queries out for Taking Chances by August 1. I’m going to need to read this a few more times in the next several months.

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!


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