Some might say that writing, and submitting your writing to agents, publishers and competitions, is just setting yourself up for rejection – and so it is. But, sadly, it’s the only way to get something published traditionally unless you’re a celebrity, so, if that’s what you’re aiming for, you have to go through it.
I recently had a look at how many rejections I’ve had so far. For my first children’s book I had 34 outright rejections. For my fifth children’s book (I didn’t submit books two to four to agents), I had 21 outright rejections, and 3 rejections that were near misses for that same book (two agents that were a bit interested, but not quite enough, and a competition where I was a runner up). I’ve recently re-written this fifth book and so now I’ll start submitting it again.
When I first started submitting to agents I didn’t delete the rejection emails that I got back, but I didn’t do anything else with them either. When I started submitting my fifth book, I started printing off the rejection emails and keeping them in a folder. Now I’ve rewritten it and I’m starting on a new round of submissions, I thought I’d like to do something different – and that’s when I came across @LisenbyAnnie on Twitter. Annie, a fellow writer, had tweeted that she has a submissions tracking jar, and every time she gets a rejection she puts a bead into it. If she gets a full manuscript request she puts in a special silver bead, and she’s planning to make all the beads into a necklace when she gets an agent. When I saw her tweet, it struck me as a fantastic idea!
It was the work of a moment to decide to copy her, and a quick trip into town to search the local charity shops for strings of pretty beads that I could use.
As soon as I got home, I found a nice jar. The dog immediately put his head up – was this a jar of something he might be interested in, he wanted to know? Hotdog sausages, perhaps, or maybe pasta sauce?
No, it wasn’t – it was empty.
Ignoring his demands for snacks, I put 34 amethyst beads into the jar to represent the 34 rejections I received for my first book. Then I added 21 crystal beads to represent the rejections I’ve had so far, for the fifth book. Then 3 pink beads went in, to represent my near misses on the fifth book. Then I put it on my dressing table, and sat back to await more. So far, I’ve added one more crystal bead, but I’m sure that it won’t be the last one. I have a special, flowery bead that can go in, if the day ever comes along when I get an acceptance, and – if that day does ever dawn – I’ll celebrate by buying the dog his very own jar – full to the brim with hotdog sausages!
With many thanks to Annie Lisenby, for giving me permission to include her name and idea, and a picture of her fabulous and inspiring tweet.
You can follow Annie at @LisenbyAnnie on twitter.