Why I’m Grateful for (Nearly) Seven Years of Rejections

Photo credit: Ultra Sonic Photography on Flickr
On May 28, 2007 I sent out my first ever query letter for my very first manuscript, which I began writing in Fall 2005. The manuscript and the query were not good. Actually, I cringed while re-reading the query before writing this post, so it was very not good. 

But I didn’t know that at the time. When I sent out that query letter, I was sure the book and the letter were amazing and I had dreams of getting published and maybe if I was lucky a movie deal, and I can laugh at my past self now, but at the time, they were legitimate feels. 

And the rejections I got for that query and manuscript legitimately sucked. 

In 2007, self-publishing wasn’t what it is today—something I’m so ridiculously grateful for. Because if it was? I might’ve published it. And I was so not ready for that. 

The thing is, looking back, I’m grateful for those rejections. Because yeah, they sucked, and I’m pretty sure I cried over a couple of them, and at the time it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But now, nine manuscripts and seven years later, I can’t imagine debuting with any of the manuscripts I once thought were going to be it (except maybe one). 

I’m grateful for nearly seven years of rejections because quite frankly, I wasn’t ready. I still had so much more to learn about writing and the publication process and what makes a good book and how to write a decent antagonist and so many things that are so essential to writing a captivating novel. But I didn’t know that then. I thought I was ready then. 

I was wrong. 

To be fair, I still have loads more to learn—I’m of the belief that writers are never done learning. But my point is, while all those rejections hurt in the moment, they were worth it. Because they pushed me to do better. They motivated me to keep learning. And they taught me I’m so much stronger than I ever thought I was. 

I don’t regret a single query letter. I’m grateful for the nos that brought me to where I am today. Because when I did finally hear the yes I’d been dreaming about for years? It sounded that much more incredible. 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Writer @Ava_Jae shares why she’s grateful for 6+ years of query rejections. (Click to tweet)  
Are you grateful for your query rejections? Here’s why one writer says she is. (Click to tweet)


S.E Dee said...

I can't believe you were querying 7 years ago! I don't know how old you are, you look young, like early twenties. I'm twenty-six and and I remember thinking my writing was awesome-ish at nineteen but I must have always had my doubts because I didn't send out my first query until last year!

I know the rejection part can be painful but after the initial sting I don't even care anymore, I just want to be ready and to query and get rejections (or offers, I'm good with offers) so that I can be at that stage!

I hate missing pitch contests because I have nothing ready. I HATE missing open doors because I'm not ready. I hate basically not having things complete but I know I'm almost there. Sometimes I just think I'm a slow writer. I hoped to finish my current WIP in a year but...yeah, that hasn't quite happened.

I'm not a rush artist, I guess, but yes, borderline perfectionist, which perhaps is just as bad as querying too early, I know. But if I'm not querying by the end of this year? Oh. My. God.

Cassie Watson said...

A great encouragement, thanks! I'm only on my first manuscript, but I've found it amazing to realise how much I've already learned over the course of this draft. It's exciting to know that I'll learn so much more with my second, and third, and fourth...

Ava Jae said...

You guestimated my age correctly. :) I started querying while I was in high school (and writing the book I queried before that) so...yep. Roughly seven years of querying.

I'm really glad to hear you've reached the point of being able to handle rejections! I find a lot of writers do reach that place eventually (which is a good place to be for sure), but it takes some longer than others. I know it took me more than a year.

As for not finishing things in time, I think the most important thing is to take the time you need to make your book as good as you can. Granted, perfectionism can lengthen the tinkering stage, but if you reach the point where you're trying to move commas around, you're probably ready. :)

Ava Jae said...

You're very welcome, Cassie! You learn so much from each and every manuscript you write, which I personally think is awesome. And definitely exciting. :)

Good luck with your writing!

Darth Lolita said...

If this current novel I'm working on makes it through revisions and beta readers, I'll query for it. I'm only eighteen, so the actual querying process probably won't happen till I'm between 19-21. I know that's super young and I'm probably not ready yet, but I want to try. Really, really, really, desperately, want to try.

But I think I know in my heart that I'll get rejected. And even so, I know I'll come out of it having learnt a lot. If I'm not ready, then I'm not going to rush to self-publish a manuscript that's clearly not ready. I'll just keep writing. (And if I am ready...WOO! I can dream Dx)

So yay for learning through many, many rejections >.>

Robin Red said...

Ooh I'm in the same boat. I wrote what I believed was an amazing manuscript when I was 18, and I wanted to let it cool when I finished. I didn't get back to it for months because of work and school, but when I did, I saw all the holes, everything that wouldn't work, and I moved on. Almost 20 now, but I still dream :)

Ava Jae said...

So, I'm probably a little biased (seeing how I started early and all), but I don't think age really determines whether or not you're ready. Experience, skill, dedication, practice and more experience all plays into being ready, but age? Not necessarily.

Being rejected is part of the process—every writer gets rejected. Multiple times. In many stages of the process. And I think it's awesome that you're prepared for that and ready to keep writing even if you face rejection, because that's exactly the kind of attitude that'll get you one day published. :)

Yay you!

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