Each year, I set writing goals for myself. This year, one of those goals was to write something outside of my work for Harlequin. I saw it as an opportunity for growth and a practice of discipline. It was both easier and harder than I’d expected, and required balance. But I did it, and ended up with a 30 000-word novella. I hadn’t originally intended on submitting it to publishers, but then I thought ‘what the hell’ and started querying . Hence this post on rejection.
Rejection is tough.
I’m sure you know that already, but it’s worth repeating. Because if you’re anything like me, something negative is more believable than something positive. (I’m working on it.) So, when you don’t get responses from publishers, or you get a flat-out rejection, it might be difficult to separate that from your writing abilities.
But rejection does not define your writing.
There are countless things publishers consider before offering you a contract besides your writing abilities. Here are two such things that I’ve discovered might contribute to a rejection:
1. The content of the book
Not all publishers will publish books that deal with sensitive issues. And sensitive issues mean different things to different publishers. It might be an issue of diversity – race, sexually orientation, ability – or a social issue – racism, eating disorders, mental health. Content matters. And the only way you’ll figure out whether the content of your book fits a publisher is by researching the work they publish.
2. Your brand
You might be a self-published author who wants to become traditionally published. When you make that transition, often a publisher will look at your brand to see whether it fits their brand. Are you publishing books that would help market the book you’ve written for them? Is the content of your books controversial? Are your books edited and formatted well? These are all things that contribute to your brand.
In general, your brand is everything about yourself that is out there for the public to see. Your social media, your website, and your books. What you write about in those books. How people have responded to them. If your brand doesn’t sit right with a publisher, they will not publish it, no matter how popular that brand might be.
There are factors other than these two that have nothing to do with your writing ability, which might be the reason for a rejection. (Be prepared for future blog posts about this!) The biggest thing I’d like you to take away from this is that you are not defined by rejection. And neither is your writing.