1. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    How Many Rejection Letters?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by archerfenris, Dec 17, 2014.

    I have a simple question for all of you older writers who are willing to put their numbers out there to a bunch of strangers: how many rejection letters have you received?

    I'm a new writer and haven't even finished my first novel, let alone begun sending in queries. I'm curious what the going rate is for us novelist hopefuls. Also, once you receive these rejection letters, how do you guys motivate yourselves to continue on?

    I'm told Steven King put every rejection letter he ever received on the wall over his writing desk until he was published.
     
  2. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    It depends, to be honest. JK Rowling had a few hundred before she nailed it.
     
  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is this confirmed, or an urban legend? I've heard she got an agent fairly quickly, and found a publisher within about a year, which, while not fast, isn't time for hundreds of rejections, either... No idea what's true.
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Not sure if it's true or not, but the basic gist of it is that very few authors land an agent and a publishing company on the first go.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've only received about six rejection letters, all for short stories and novelettes. I don't submit much, alas.

    British crime writer John Creasey was maybe the most rejected writer who eventually found success of all time. He collected 743 rejection letters before making his first sale, and wound up publishing over 600 (!) novels under twenty-eight different pseudonyms. He is an inspiration to us all! :)
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    In terms of how to stay motivated, I think it's important to think of rejections as meaning "not right for us at this time" rather than "your story sucks, and so do you".

    I've only ever had one story that didn't find a publisher eventually. It was a YA dystopic that was ready just AFTER the YA dystopia bubble burst. So it wasn't really right for anyone AT THAT TIME. Whatever. I self-pubbed it.

    Other stories? I sell mostly to smaller e-pubs, and it took a few rejections from the biggest of them before I figured things out. But I sold those books elsewhere.

    And then when I decided to step back into the NY world, I sent out probably 30 agent queries? I probably got ten or so rejections before having an agent express interest. (And then once one agent is interested, I contacted a few others and they got interested too). But I didn't think of those ten rejections as being indicative or problems with me or even with my story. They were just people who weren't in a place to sell that book at that time.

    So, how to maintain motivation? Thick skin!
     
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  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Before I was finally published I received about 8 or 9 rejection slips. But I was very lucky, and I know that. Since I was published I've had a few more things accepted, but honestly I still get MANY more rejections than acceptances. So much so a rejection is something I don't even notice - I just think of it as their loss.

    It might sound odd, but I keep submitting mostly because I can't imagine doing anything else. And I've been accepted one or two times before, so I know I am good enough to at least get stuff out there.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've gotten a total of about 10 rejection letters/emails for my poetry and story submissions.

    The writing business is sort of like romantic relationships. If you get rejected, you can't take it personally. It just means that your piece and the magazine/publisher aren't a good fit. The good news is that all it takes is one yes, and you're golden.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I've only sent out one novel once and got a rejection. I was about 19 and I knew the story just wasn't good enough. Plus it was a start-of-a-series book and girl series were starting to collapse about that time. So even if the writing had been good I don't think it would've been accepted anyway. Bad timing. I would've done better to write a Goosebumps type thriller.

    It all depends on what you want when you submit. Right now I'm self publishing my novellas but unless I develop one helluva following I'm going to go the traditional route for certain novels. And for them I plan on sticking it out.
     
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  10. Gottagocit
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    Gottagocit Member

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    I probably submitted my first novel to ten publishers and another dozen agents over a two year period before finding a small publisher willing to consider the story while overlooking what I later learned were amateur techinques and mistakes. I quickly learned there had been a lot I didn't know and worked out a lot of the problems. It's now going to their editors for final cleanup and should be on shelves by around March.

    Unfortunately there are usually a lot of rejection letters in the future of any first time (or even after I expect) writers. If you want it bad enough, you won't let it discourage you and will improve your novel until it is discovered.
     
  11. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    My favorite such story from mystery writer James Lee Burke:

    "His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years, and upon publication by Louisiana State University press was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize."

    Never give up.
     
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  12. DennisWillis12
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    DennisWillis12 Member

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    I was really unaware of this information that hundred times he got the rejection letter.
     

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