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My Second Favorite Word

Like many writers, I love words, and when I started pursuing publication yes quickly became my favorite word.  Yes, I like your pages. Yes, you are a Golden Heart Finalist.  Yes, I want to represent you.  Yes, I want to publish your book.  Yes, you are number one in the kindle store.  That yes feeling is a euphoria I could ride for days, but what I didn’t realize at first was that my second favorite word would become no.

Maybe it’s just a weird thing about me, but lately I find rejections surprisingly satisfying.  It’s the knowing.

There is a ton of waiting in this business – especially at this time of year when lots of folks in the industry are taking some well-deserved time off for the holidays.  I may want them to have a merry Christmas and a happy Hannukah with their families – but I wouldn’t mind if they wanted to be considering my manuscript at the same time, and I don’t think I’m alone among writers in my impatience.  It’s hard being in that submission limbo.  

We wait to see if they will like our book enough to buy it, then we wait to see if our edits will be massive or minuscule, and we wait to see if reviewers will like it or if it will catch on with readers.  Some of this waiting is only in traditional publishing (which for many is a big part of the appeal of self-publishing) but even when we are putting our work out there ourselves, we have to wait to see how that latest ad will do or whether what we’ve written will sell or win awards.  This industry is a gauntlet of patience and unanswered questions – and yes is a great answer.  A phenomenal answer.  But sometimes no is almost as amazing, because at least then you know.  

Yes may open doors, but no opens windows.  It gives us information – and the opportunity to revise or reinvent.

I absolutely want to hear that my genius proposal will be bought by Publisher A, but hearing that they definitely don’t want to buy it is actually strangely exciting as well.  It means I’m free.  Free of the waiting.  Free of submission limbo.  I can decide what to do next.  Maybe I want to massively revise it, or self-publish it, or put it under the bed and work on a project in an entirely different genre.  I can plan once I get that no.  And I love to plan.

There is a unique sense of liberation in rejection.  It frees us to chase other dreams.  Now that self-publishing has given us other options, I know authors who have had their series dropped by their publisher and felt relieved rather than crushed – because the other shoe had finally dropped and now they could decide the future of their series themselves. Did they want to keep going? Or were they ready to try something completely different?

Rejection isn’t always a bad thing.  It doesn’t mean your book isn’t good.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t talented.  It just means that your book didn’t fit into the space that publisher was looking to fill.  So you keep looking.  Maybe for a different publisher with a different space, maybe for a different book, maybe for a different way of achieving your dreams. 

No lets you reassess, free of the waiting.  At least it does for me.  What about you?  How do you feel about rejection?  Have you ever had a rejection that felt good?


Lizzie Shane is a three-time Rita-nominated author who still receives plenty of rejections to satisfy her love of “no”-ing.  Her latest release, Miracle on Mulholland has been called a “touching holiday read” and is out now!  For more about Lizzie & her books, please visit www.lizzieshane.com.

10 responses to “My Second Favorite Word”

  1. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    Amen, sister! This post is spot on, Vivi. No can be freeing. I mean, early in a career, a no might feel personal and devastating. How can it not when we are so green and unsure of ourselves? And being in indefinite limbo makes us even more insecure. But once we’ve navigated the industry a bit, a no is not so terrible. A no actually puts US back in control. WE get to decide what’s next. Yeah, I like having control. 🙂

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  2. Tamara Hogan says:

    —> I know authors who have had their series dropped by their publisher and felt relieved rather than crushed – because the other shoe had finally dropped and now they could decide the future of their series themselves.

    ^^^ THIS. A thousand times this.

    I must be honest, having my former publisher drop my Underbelly Chronicles series after two books was a blow to the ol’ ego, but it didn’t take me long to see the silver lining – that all decisions about the series, from that point forward, were completely and solely mine. I embraced my inner control freak, went indie, and haven’t looked back. 🙂

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  3. Darynda Jones says:

    What a fantastic post!!! I feel so fortunate that my publisher didn’t drop my series, but they did have me end it. Like Tammy, this was a blow. A bittersweet one. I could hardly imagine my life without Charley and the gang, but it was also strangely freeing. I could do something else! The sky was the limit. And now I have a new trilogy coming out that I am so excited about.

    Change can be a very good thing.

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    • Congrats on your new series, Darynda! I’ll be sad to see Charley end, because I love that series so much, but I also love endings so I’m also super excited to see the last chapter in Charley’s adventure. Thank you for giving me so many hours of great entertainment and congratulations on YOUR new adventure!

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  4. The first rejection always seems to be the hardest. In anything. Great post, Vivi.

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