Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dear Virg, How many rejections does it take to prove I'm never going to be an author? #OnRejection

To answer a question I got in the email... How many times were you rejected?

Well, for the first book, I was rejected a lot. Hang on, I can be more specific.

I sent it out to various agents and publishers to begin with and was very picky. I didn't want just ANY publisher. I wanted a GREAT publisher -- clearly, I'd written the NEXT BIG THING.

Then I got rejected a lot, so I sent it out to 27 agents/publishers a week for a year. I know, arbitrary number, but that was what I did. That comes out to about 1,404 rejections in that one year alone, although some of them never did get back to me.

Since then, I've gotten rejected here or there (never that many times on one story again, though) so...

Yes, I've been rejected lots and lots of times.

The person was asking me the question, by the way, because they've gotten five rejections and wanted to know if this was evidence that they should just give up. They thought five rejections meant they weren't good enough and never would be.

In my opinion -- and I openly admit I could be wrong -- writing is like everything else in life. When you were learning to walk, you fell. You fell a LOT before you got the knack of the thing.

Everything else you learned to do took much practice and quite a lot of failures.

Writing novels? No, you're probably not great when you start. How can you be? You've never done it before. But you'll never get good at it if you say, "Clearly a failure. Time for something new," the first time you skin your knee... or pride in the case of writing. Or the fifth. Or the 1,405th.


I didn't make it through college on the first try, either.  I enrolled in 1996, never began classes, in 2001 and dropped out and in 2002 and dropped out... I enrolled again in Fall of 2011 and made it to my two degrees. I tried many things when I was younger... and failed at miserably. That said, I'm rather stubborn. 

Random Personal Note -- Here's my first digital (I sent many copies out in paper before I tried emailing copies of my book...) rejection letter:

We’d like to apologize for the impersonal nature of this standard rejection letter. Rest assured that we do read every query letter carefully and, unfortunately, this project is not right for us. Because this business is so subjective and opinions vary widely, we recommend that you pursue other agents. After all, it just takes one "yes" to find the right match. Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.

This was for the original version of Odd Stuff and it was dated 5/1/2007.


  1. Awesome encouragement for all aspiring authors. Thank you.

  2. OMG. I would not even want to contemplate the number of rejections I've gotten over the years. And the reality is...they don't stop after you sign your first deal. I'm trying to sell something different right now, and while I've gotten a lot of positive feedback, I've gotten a shit-ton of rejections. Publishing is not a business for the faint-hearted.