Detours and Rejections – When Our Paths Aren’t Smooth

rejection blog kjp19Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re standing in line at the ticket box office and it’s almost your turn and the attendant lights up the “Sold Out” sign and shuts her window?

Or you go to the hospital positive you’re in labor and they send you home?

Or you’ve found the perfect house and you put in an offer but someone else offers more–like full asking price? Or worse, you don’t qualify for the loan?

A similar thing happened to us recently. My husband was supposed to have surgery to remove cancer. We had prayer with our church family, did all the prep work, got everything in order, arranged for one of our children to come stay overnight with our Chihuahua, packed our bags and went to the hospital. They took him back, got him all prepped and ready to go. Then the nurse asked a few of the questions they always ask and, sadly, there had been a miscommunication with an important detail and surgery came to a grinding halt. They sent us home. It was quite an anti-climactic moment, let me tell you. No worries, though, we’ve rescheduled the surgery and my husband will be cancer free by the end of the month.

But this experience hit home with me. It was like a rejection that you get from a publisher. You work and you work to write the perfect proposal. You get all your friends and writing partners to review it for mistakes and things that need to be fleshed out. You spend more time on the proposal than you spend writing the book (not really. but maybe.) You submit to agents and/or publishers and then you WAIT. Just like we were waiting in the pre-surgery area forever. Did I mention the pre-op appointment lasted about five hours?

And then the rejection comes. That’s okay, you’ve got more proposals out there. Right? You’re not banking on this one.

And then the next rejection comes. And the next.

And worse: the rejections that never come. Like you’ve been totally ignored. You want to call the agent or publisher and ask if they received your proposal. You want to hand deliver it to them at their office. But that’s not proper professional etiquette these days. So you either have to keep waiting or you just assume they don’t want your story. That’s like not being called after a great first date. What happened? I thought he liked me.

Sadly, that’s just the way it is. Publishers and agents have far too many proposals to respond to them all.

I recently saw a post from one of my agent friends on Facebook and she said it had been so long since she’d been wowed by a proposal and even longer since she’d been wowed by the first chapter, longer for the summary and even longer for the hook or the first line.

Competition is fierce out there, peeps! We’ve got to do all our homework, write the best proposal we can possibly write, and be prepared to follow that with the best book a publisher/agent has ever seen. You want to knock them off their feet!

Stories have another path they can take to publication. Authors can go Indie and self-publish them. But don’t forget that this is not the easy way to success. You have a much tougher audience to please when you go this route. You have to please the skeptical reader. You have to build trust with them because they don’t know who you are and they don’t see a publisher’s stamp of approval on your book. Because you don’t have the backing of a publisher who is going to do all the production for you, you the author must do it all–from writing to editing to formatting to cover design to production. You either do these things yourself or you hire someone to do it for you (recommended for many of those things, but not for the writing itself, haha!)

I decided to publish my five books myself (two had been formerly published by a small publisher). They aren’t perfect, but they are the best I could do at the time. Any time someone finds something that might be wrong with one of them, I go in and change it and then upload a new version. No problem. However, it’s best if you produce the most error-free product you can. This applies to whether you’re publishing it yourself or sending it to publishers and agents.

If you can prevent rejection, why not do it?

So what do you do after the rejection? You go back to doing what you were doing before the rejection came. Life. However, you don’t come away unchanged. If you do, then it’s a wasted experience. You ask yourself the hard questions.

What could I have done differently?

Why did this rejection come?

Was it me or was it them?

What am I going to do with this knowledge?

And then you act. If there’s something you can do, you do it. Never just give up.

The silver lining to the surgery cancellation is that my husband will now be able to complete a woodworking job for a designer that he had to turn down because of the recovery limitations. I am sure as the days and weeks go on, we’ll see even more glimpses into God’s perfect plan and why the original surgery date wasn’t God’s best date for us.

If you’re interested in getting to know some of my characters who refuse to give up when rejection and detours come their way, check out my books!

Photo credit: Kayla Johnson


Published by Sherri Wilson Johnson

I am a wife/mother/writer/speaker looking to be used by God!

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