Road to Success

Empty asphalt road towards the big cloud and signs symbolizing success and safety

Someone said to me recently that the road to success in publishing is paved with letters of rejection. In my case, I’d have to say that it certainly feels that way, especially if you’re keen to be published with the traditional path in mind. However, if you approach the process from a positive point of view, those rejections can elevate you rather than deflate you on your path to publishing success.

  1. Prepare yourself.

You wrote a story you’re proud of and want to share it with the world, but it seems the world of agents and publishers are not on the same page. Understanding that this industry is subjective is the first step to acceptance and, whether you are approaching literary agents or publishers, it’s unlikely they will all be captivated by your manuscript. Trust that the right person or situation will present itself and don’t become too defeated. It’s just part of the business.

2.  Be open to change.

Only a small number of authors ever get published traditionally and if you want to be one of them you need to be prepared to change. If you’re receiving rejection after rejection take a second look at your query, synopsis and first ten pages of your manuscript. Make sure you have others that have successfully been through the process look at it too. You may need to go through several revisions before you capture the attention you want. There are so many resources out there such as websites, books, Youtube, etc. If you don’t have someone to help you directly than seek help from any source you can.


3.  Don’t submit all at once.

There are a lot of agents out there and the best way for them to see your work is for you to submit it, but if you’re going to send out queries, sent to more than one agent at a time but not more than ten. This gives you a good idea of how your work is being received. If they all come back as rejections than you know you need to change something, whether it be your query, which might not be getting across your story idea the way you want, or the first page of your novel that might need to be tweaked. The limited numbers means you haven’t exhausted all your options in one go and yet gotten back enough that you know what you’re sending out is not working.

4.  Be professional.

It’s so tempting hit reply to that dreaded rejection, but don’t. Publishing is a business and, though you have a great deal of emotional attachment to the product you’re trying to sell, you need to remember that the agents and publishers are just doing their job the best they can to make money so their business can continue. Responding to emails of rejection, whether they are to tell the agent off or to thank them are unwelcomed and considered unprofessional. They are busy enough with reading through the hundreds of queries they get a week and taking care of their list of authors. They don’t have the time or inclination to be bothered with more emails that in their mind are unnecessary. Your best bet is to accept the rejection and move on.

You can look at the rejections in many different ways, but I think the best is to see them as one step closer to the right path for you and your novel.


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