I recently had the honor of being a panelist at Oakville Public Library’s Paths to Publishing event, here in southern Ontario. The library hosted several authors and experts in the publishing industry and we shared our journeys to publication. It was a great event, well attended, and I enjoyed speaking with the audience members.
The focus of my talk was how a rejection letter kick-started my writing career. Hard to imagine? Sure. After all, does anyone enjoy being rejected? No. And to be rejected in writing, for your writing, is an indignity every author dreads.
However, I would argue it’s a very important step on our career path.
As it happens, my first rejection letter came back in 2008 for a manuscript I sent to Harlequin. I had visions of grandeur. I had dreams of fame and fortune. And, sadly, I also had a terrible manuscript.
I’ll share what Harlequin said to me in that letter:
- “Ensure your story and conflict are character-driven.”
- “Focus on the internal emotional conflict of your characters.”
- “Use secondary characters to add richness/depth to your central romance, but don’t let them take over.”
- “Target your work to a particular series/publisher. Understand what they sell.”
All great points, and I will admit, they were spot on as far as my book went.
Now, it hurt. It hurt like a bandage being ripped off a still-open wound. But it was accurate. And what I told the audience in Oakville was that it’s crucial to absorb expert feedback, use it, and then put the letter away. You don’t want to dwell on negativity, but I would advise any new writer to glean every possible bit of info from a rejection letter in order to make their book shine. After all, these people know what they’re talking about.
And in my case, I used that info. I’m now happy to say the mistakes I made then were obliterated, or at least I can identify them easily in my own writing now. Feedback is a gift. Use it to improve your writing and be thankful someone took the time to share their thoughts with you. My rejection letter changed my life and started me on the path to publication.
As an aside, I will also share a hot freebie with you today! My paranormal romance Predator’s Kiss, Gemini Island Shifters 1, is now available FREE of charge at iTunes as part of a special promotion there. It’s for a limited time only. Catch the start of this hot series and let my bear shifter Ryland Snow keep you warm on these chilly nights! https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/predators-kiss/id652591155?mt=11