First Rejection

No, no, no…I’m not talking about my first crush in elementary school that crossed his eyes and ran the other direction when I professed my true love. Although I have to say that it could’ve been worse if I hadn’t watched, with my tender heart in pieces, as he slid to a stop and ran into the monkey bars. My best friend’s giggles quickly helped to start the healing process as the teacher picked gravel out of his elbows. My true love today, besides family and friends, would be my stories. Every hurt, joy, stress I feel is woven into my writing. It can get pretty emotional and I sometimes feel the torture I put my characters through. My contemporary stories focus on real life drama and intense relationships in small town America. Rugged cowboys, oh my, and the strong women that fight back when life tries to buck and bully them. And with as much emotion as I put into my stories, can you imagine the anxiety I felt when I first submitted my work to a critique group, and then the pain when the first response was a woman blasting me with tons of red ink? I actually considered quitting as I’m sure many others have done after rejection knocked them for a loop. But I have been truly blessed with my current critique partners, and even a few from the past. They steer me in the right direction with constructive criticism and have taught me so much along the way. They cheer me on and supply chocolate and hugs when I get shot down.

The reason rejections are felt more strongly than normal is because writing is  personal. My stories are something I put my heart into and when they’re rejected, I tend to take it personally. It’s hard not to. I’ve been writing for publication for almost seven years now and received my first rejection letter within three months of submitting. That is a quick response considering I know several writers that have been waiting a year, or two, for an editor to respond. They say that no news is good news. Really? Hand me a silver bucket I can throw up in from the overwhelming anxiety every time the phone rings or bings with notification that I have an email.

I have to admit though, my first editor rejection was a good one as far as rejections go. It was a revise and resubmit. The story was ultimately rejected but the process wasn’t as heartbreaking as I’ve been through since. I think the worst I’ve received was a form letter that they just plugged my name into the greeting. A critique partner received one with her name but the wrong manuscript title. The hard part about those types of rejections is not knowing if you even had a chance. Is there something you need to change or did you just get the wrong editor/agent on the wrong day? When you are receiving multiple rejections, examine the rejection letters (or critiques) and see if you can find common suggestions, mistakes. Do you feel as though you can make the changes without losing your voice?

There are plenty of authors with success stories out there with bestselling books on the market that are proud of the hundreds of rejection letters before they found the one editor, or agent, that led them to success. My first rejection was hard to swallow though I’m sure it could’ve been much worse. I find encouragement when I’m down by reading about how other authors have struggled but they kept plugging away and persevered. My post today sounds like it’s geared more toward the writer, but anyone can apply this post to something they really want to accomplish. Make positive changes if needed, but don’t give up if you really want something. Success is always the best revenge.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Chelle Sandell

About Chelle Sandell

Contemporary western romance author, Chelle Sandell, was born and raised in southern Oklahoma but has mostly traded her cowboy boots in for flip-flops. That is unless her cowboy feels the occasional need to go boot scootin' across a dance floor. A foodie at heart, leaning toward the sweet treats, you can find her in the kitchen experimenting on her family and friends. She lives out in the country with her very own cowboy, rowdy boys, Hank & Lilly (blue heeler cowdogs), rescue kitties, and a hungry opossum that loves to sneak up at night to eat the cat food on the back porch. An avid reader from way back when, Chelle first found her writing voice when her favorite aunt showed her a historical romance book that mentioned a Native American ancestor that she had been researching. She realized she could weave her own stories that could have the same impact on readers that she felt when reading. Most of her stories are contemporary western romances, but she also has a Western/Native American historical and paranormal romance waiting in line for attention. While Chelle hasn't published yet, she has met some success as a finalist in the Magnolia State Dixie First Chapter Contest, OKRWA's Finally A Bride, and two eHarlequin Editor Pitch contests.
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16 Responses to First Rejection

  1. Great encouraging post, Chelle! You WILL have your revenge soon. 🙂

  2. Nina Croft says:

    I remember my first rejection, like yours Chelle, it was actually quite a nice one, still broke my heart. There have been a few since then but like all firsts that one sticks in my mind!

  3. Rejections always smart, but don’t lose faith in yourself or your writing. If you love your characters, it will show. Email me when you sell!

  4. Thanks, Jennifer!! One of these days…mwahahaha!

  5. Nina, I know exactly what you mean. It was a nice as a rejection could be…but it still made me doubt myself.

  6. Linda Warren says:

    Chelle, I started the same way with a nice letter and if I wanted to rewrite and resubmit, they’d be happy to look at it again. I rewrote that story about 4 times and when the final letter came, “Sorry, we’re going to pass on the story” I was crushed. It took a slice of my pride and the hope that I could be a published author. The pity party didn’t last long and I was back at my computer and eventually sold. I sold to the same editor who rejected the first manuscript. And that manuscript she rejected became my 10th published book. So keep writing. Keep learning. Keep dreaming. It’s a slow process, but it’s worth it.

  7. Thank you, Vicky, I’ll definitely do that! I love reading your historicals so your advice means a lot. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Thank you, Miss Linda! Considering you’re one of the authors that made me fall in love with Superromances, that advice only spurs me on to work harder! I appreciate you coming by to say hi!

  9. Bethanne says:

    Rejections get harder, I think. My first was expected… or perhaps just another wrung on the ladder. As I continue to write, the rejections get more personal. Maybe that’s because I love what I do more and more. Each story is better. Each story carries a little more love.

  10. I’ve had my fair share of rejection letters. I have an entire file of them in my email account, but it only takes one editor to fall in love with your work to make something happen 🙂

  11. Just like everyone else, I have that first rejection burned into my memory and yes, I have mixed feelings about it. I was sad at the time, but with the help of my friends I got over it kept going. I guess it’s a part of the process and it probably never gets any easier to take. 🙂

  12. You’re so right, Bethanne, because my later rejections tend to sting more.

    Julie, that’s what I’m hearing from other authors. And the same editor that rejects you may not be in a certain place time-wise with what they’re looking for to fill a particular slot.

    Deb…it definitely helps having you guys to cheer or share chocolate pity-parties with.

  13. I was excited by my first rejection. It made me feel like a “real” writer. After that they started to hurt more and then there’s this point you hit where it’s disappointing, but it’s just one of those things that happen. Not sure if that’s good or not, lol.

    Great post, Chelle!

  14. Thanks, Lori! It’s all part of the process.

  15. Ami Weaver says:

    Hi Chelle! Chiming in late here. 🙂 This is a great post because you can’t get ahead in a writing career without some rejections. They can be soul-sucking when they are generic. It was hard for me to learn to let it roll off because writing is so personal. It can be hard to remember it’s not *you* being rejected, it’s the *story* because sometimes (okay, often!) they feel like one and the same.

    • Never too late to stop by and say hi! And your road to publication is a dream come true, Ami. You’re a true inspiration for me when it comes to perseverance. Good to see you!! *HUGS*

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