I’ve written about getting rejections before and it is a necessary and often repetitive part of being a writer. Publishing books is a business. Even if your book has stunning plot lines and deep characters, vivid writing, and a well-planned twist that the readers should have seen coming but didn’t, there are a lot of other factors that publishing houses have to take into consideration, like catalogue fit and budgeting and marketability. Often times, rejection does not mean your book is inherently bad.
Still, rejection can be disappointing, even when you’ve come to accept it as something that is going to happen on occasion. Writers develop a tough skin, and when an agent or editor passes on your work, it stops being a personal heartwrench and becomes just one more step in the process. But you still don’t really like it. Being told your work ‘isn’t quite right for the list’ isn’t a phrase that exactly makes you quiver with excitement.
Or so I always thought – until it happened to me.
It sounds ridiculous, I know. But I actually got excited about having my book rejected. My wonderful agent Carrie has been submitting my latest completed project, and she sent me some feedback that an editor had given her. Even though it was ultimately a pass, this editor ‘got’ my book. (I’m slowly getting a feeling that maybe my stories are a bit unconventional and not everyone gets them, so this was pretty thrilling. And I don’t know if this feeling is true, maybe it’s just a few rejections talking). She wrote some really nice compliments that I read over about fifty times, and also made some suggestions that might make the story work better. The two biggest changes would involve slowing down one plot section and introducing a fairly major character a couple of chapters earlier. All of the changes, while they involved some significant edits, were achievable without tearing the whole manuscript apart and spending a year and much teeth-gnashing on them.
I made the changes, and now we’re resubmitting the book to this same editor. Will it be another pass? Maybe. I don’t know. But I know that the book is better now. The changes were a good idea, and I wouldn’t turn the book back to its old version now that I’ve seen the new one. If it gets submitted to more editors down the road, they will be seeing the stronger version of the manuscript.
This whole experience was pretty motivating. I had been jumping between a couple different projects, and having a few days where writing felt like more of a chore than a passion (although I can probably blame some of that on puppy distraction!). I’m still not quite sure which project I’m going to focus on first, and maybe I will keep multi-tasking for a bit longer. I feel a lot more excited about it though, and that’s great.
Has anyone else ever received feedback turned out to be re-energizing? Have you dealt with major revisions and loved the end result? Do tell!