I’ve wanted to write a book since I was like 5. Weirdly enough, I actually did write a few books as a child. One was an encyclopedia of all the Babysitter’s Club characters (super original and not a parody). And the other one I was very serious about getting published. So I typed it up, printed it out, added illustrations, used my best cursive to write a letter, and sent it to a publisher. I think I found their address on the title page of Hop on Pop. And I’m not sure I even knew what rejection was at that age.
I was SO EXCITED when a few weeks later, there was a letter from the publisher in my mailbox. I was like 7 years old and I remember thinking: Wow, this is it! I am an author now!!!
And then I opened it. It was a very nice and encouraging rejection letter. I wasn’t even sad. I was just so happy they READ it—and wrote BACK TO ME! I kept the letter in a scrapbook. It’s clearly a form letter they sent to all children, but it meant a lot to me in the early ’90’s.
In the past few years, I’ve realized that I do really want to write and actually finish a book. It’s a challenge that I’m very committed to. Currently, I’m super close to finishing a full manuscript. It’s actually finished, but the perfectionist in me will never be done with it, so I’m revising it for the 2,783rd time. And I’ve spent sooooo much time on it, but it’s seriously one of my favorite things to do in life so no complaints. Just a little embarrassing how many hours have gone into it. Not sure if it’s normal or not since this is my first time.
In the past 6 months, I’ve started putting together a book proposal, working with an editor, and pitching agents by sending query letters and going to (one) writer’s conference. And I’ve gotten really, really good feedback that’s helped me so much.
But I’ve realized that rejection is at the core of trying to get published. And that can be a bitter pill to swallow when you pour your heart and soul into something. What you usually want to hear back is: This is a work of genius. You are a writing goddess.
This whole process has become almost like a game for me now, and I’m excited to see what’s to come as I really get close to finishing this up and getting my shit together. I’m stubborn af so this thing is getting out there, whether I find a publisher or I make copies of it at Kinko’s and leave them on random park benches. Whatever comes first.
Currently, I’m working on revising my “pitch package” with help (thank the cosmos), and then will be sending out more queries to agents soon. That’s the next step. And I can’t wait to get more replies (and hopefully, requests to actually read my book!)
In the meantime, I’ve made a little list of my favorite “constructive” responses so far and wanted to share them for three reasons:
- They truly are hilarious when you read them all in a row.
- And they seriously motivate me so much.
- I think it’s important to be real about life and not just share all the shiny things.
My Current Collection of Rejection
If I can be totally honest with you, I worry that you’re going to get pushback for being a privileged white woman who has the resources to take off for a few months, and for being a stereotypical self-involved millennial. -Editor
You’re kinda coming across as an anarchist. -Sister
I will decline, so I wish you success elsewhere. -Agent
It just didn’t strike a chord. I do admire the quality of the writing and the execution -Agent
I’m afraid I wouldn’t be the best representative for it. – Agent
We’re afraid your project does not seem right for our list. – Assistant to an Agent
When I think about your book, I think: Who are you to tell these stories? -Agent
My biggest concern is you’ve never written a book before. -Agent