Twice now, a story of mine has been rejected by potential publishers. I just got the email saying so a few minutes ago. I won’t tell you who the publisher was, but it is one that I enjoy and respect (which is why I sent them my story in the first place).
The rejection was for a flash story that I wrote over a couple of nights and then edited over a couple of weeks. Friends and family read it and gave me feedback. I felt like it was ready, so I sent it out. And it got rejected. Twice.
And that’s okay. In fact, it is good.
Of course, I would have loved for it to have been bought by the first place I sent it, but the fact that it wasn’t doesn’t give me great pause. There are hundred of thousands of publishers out there and I haven’t tried them all yet.
I still feel like it is a good story, though I’ll take another look at it to see if there is some tweaking that I can do to make it a better story. And in the mean time, while it was out there in the slush piles, waiting for some editor to look at it, I had a chance to write another story. And that story is almost ready to send out to be possibly rejected like the first one.
But you know what? Even if I send them both out and they both get rejected twenty times each, I still have faith in the system.
Why am I so okay with rejection? Because in addition to being a writer and a bookstore employee, I am a paid reviewer for the Dove Foundation and I read books for content and quality. And in such a role, I just read what is possibly one of the worst books I have ever read. For the dignity of the author, I won’t speak directly about the book here (you can search my reviews at Dove.org if you need to know), but I will say that the book was self-published.
Now, I know that the publishing industry has changed and that there are a lot of good reasons why an author might self-publish. I have blogging friends that are proudly self-published authors. They have done the research and decided that going it alone is the best financial way to go. But at the risk of offending those folks, there is another more obvious reason that an author might self-publish a book. BECAUSE NO PUBLISHER WOULD TOUCH IT.
My faith in the system remains because publishers make their money by screening out books that they don’t think worthy of space on a bookshelf. The self-publishing industry makes their money by accepting people who, for one reason or another, don’t want to pass through that screening process. And while I don’t think that rejection letters are a badge of pride (like some authors I know), I do see them as a validation that the system works.
Are there exceptions to the rule? Sure. But the rule exists because of the 99.9% who prove it true.
I have hope that all of my writings will be published one day, but for now I am happy to write, hone my craft, and be rejected enough times to learn from my mistakes and become a better writer.