A writer's life is rife with rejection. Agents and publishers that don't respond to queries. Beta readers who can't make time to actually read. Reviewers who do bother to email back with "That is not something I would ever read!" (but you specifically listed urban fantasy featuring a strong female protagonist!). Poor sales. Then . . . NO SALES. It gets worse. A bad review. Not just any bad review, an unfair one. Unwarranted. It seems all the good reviews in the world can't take away the sting. Ugh. Talk about depressing.
It seems ironic, then, that I have purposefully chosen this path when rejection is one of the scariest, most terrifying things I can think of. Of course, like every budding young writer eager to share her words with the world, I didn't think it would happen to me. People would want to read my stories, right?
Convinced of my talent I went all in, dedicated a good portion of my life to writing. Still do. Of course that hasn't stopped the rejection from raining down on me. But there is something about knowing that it's coming, knowing that in the literary world rejection is part and parcel to participation, which has somehow made it easier to accept. In fact, since it is so expected, when its opposite happens it is pretty darn exciting! What's better than waking up to a new five star review? Or having a real live fan?!
Still, no matter how prepared you are for it, what often feels like constant rejection can wear on any writer. But there are ways to cope and stay focused. Here are a few that have served me well over the years:
- Keep writing. Don't let rejection tear you away from your art, pour those emotions into it instead.
- Get some exercise. Yup, you've heard it before. Endorphins, they make you feel better! It's amazing how much easier it is to put "failure" into perspective after a run.
- Don't focus on others' success. Congratulate your latest author friend to shoot to stardom, toast them at their release party, but don't compare yourself to them, don't compare your books. It won't get you anywhere. Asking them to write a review or feature you on their blog would be a much better use of your connections.
- Have a cry day. OK so pretty much NO ONE has bought your book since it launched last week. Your friends and family promised but they haven't exactly followed through. Furthermore, someone has left a scathing two star review. Ouch. Go ahead. Cry it out. Spend the day in bed.
- But then... "You've got to get up, get out, and get something... " (Outkast, 'Git Up, Git Out') Again, keep writing! Sure, there are plenty of great anecdotes out there about indie authors who rocketed to fame almost immediately, or who got to quit their soul sucking jobs to write full time after just a few books (my personal dream), but those aren't the norm. If you want it you have to keep writing. And editing. And promoting. You have to do all of this knowing that there is no guarantee.
In short, writing is not for the faint of heart. Unless you write only for yourself and never share it with anyone else (what's the fun in that?!), you will eventually get bitten by rejection. The key is to treat the wound and move on, keep your chin up and keep writing.
R. Anne Polcastro
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About the Author
Riya Anne Polcastro writes dystopian fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. She is the author of the sci-fi Left Behind Trilogy. The first book in the series, The Forbidden Voyage, is currently free on Amazon. Riya is also the author of the tragic comedy Suicide in Tiny Increments. Find out more at her website and find her on Twitter @RAPolcastro