Despite the title, I don’t have a definitive answer on how to turn rejection letters into acceptance phone calls. What I have are words of wisdom from other authors’ input and from my own experience on how we can learn, grow, and be blessed by rejections.
Rejection is a part of writers' lives. It comes in many forms. All are disheartening. Even the ones that are complimentary can hurt because they still mean you didn’t make a sale.
Author Linore Burkard put my thoughts on rejection succinctly. “Rejection is a stop sign from God.” At a stop sign, you look both ways before moving on. You look ahead. You may even look behind to ensure the next car that comes along isn’t going to zip past and smash into you, as you make a left turn.
And making a left turn is often what you need to do. Nonfiction author Theresa Cooke wrote an essay on a controversial subject for an anthology. The anthology rejected it. Theresa ended up selling it as an article. Kim Vogel Sawyer submitted an anthology collection with other authors. The editor rejected the concept. Kim took that same idea for four short stories, consolidated them into a novel, and sold it.
Since this is a Barbour blog, I’ll talk about my experience with Heartsong. My story got rejected at first, and it hurt. It also taught me a great deal about writing. That rejection forced me to sit down and really learn my market, then completely revamp and rewrite my story—and sell it to JoAnne six months later, as Better than Gold.
So next time a rejection appears in your mailbox or inbox, step back and ask yourself why God has brought you to this stop sign. Perhaps you have the wrong market. Perhaps you need to improve your craft. Perhaps you need to develop a teachable heart. Whatever the reason, turn that rejection into an acceptance that this is a message from the Lord regarding your writing and when He determines you’re ready, your work will find acceptance.
As a footnote, this is the perfect week for me to be a guest here. Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of the phone call I got from my agent regarding the New Jersey Historical Series for Heartsong. This acceptance ended twenty months of rejections. The fun fact is that I was in New Jersey at the time. Even more fun, my hero in The Glassblower is a Scot named Colin. In my class I was taking up there, was a Scottish man named Colin. Colin sent me MP3s of him talking so I could get the cadence of speech right without resorting to hard-to-read dialect.
The Glassblower by Laurie Alice Eakes releases through Heartsong Presents in November.