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Thursday, July 29, 2010


For a beginning writer a rejection of your work is the hardest thing to deal with. When I first started writing, I met the editors I submitted to at the conferences my RWA chapter had once a year. The very first editor, Wendi Corsi Staub, is a wonderful sweet person, and she sent me a two page letter explaining what I needed to do to improve my story even though she rejected my manuscript. This rejection letter gave me hope.

When I started getting form letters rejecting my work, I became despondent because I didn't know what was wrong. Sometimes I would quit writing for months because my spirit was so bruised.

I started entering contests thinking that was the way to find out what was wrong. I would send ten to fifty pages to a contest hoping that someone would validate me as a good story teller. I received low and high scores in the same contest, which was very confusing. There were judges willing to tell you what you were doing wrong and how to fix it. The problem was they would rewrite my work and send it in a different direction from where I wanted it to go.

It was so bewildering I became depressed each time and refused to write again. I even cried but later I would pour over their comments and make all the changes they suggested. It took many years before I realized that not everyone could be right.

This went on forever, and I wrote a story (not published yet) that I knew had the potential to make it. After ninety three rejections from agents I sat it aside. This time many of the rejections were positive. Some said they had liked what they read, but they didn't know how to market it. Others said they weren't taking on new authors because it was too risky in this economic climate. I read and reread the personal messages to keep my hope alive.

It was at this time I became hardened. A difference came over me, and I didn't even cringe or cry over the rejections. I knew this book was good, but I would have to come back to it another time. I will be dragging it out of the mothballs soon. I started another story, which kept getting negative feedback from contests and chapter members. Deciding to set it aside, I started another story. The same thing happened, and I sat it aside. It became a habit to start a project and not finish it, so I decided no matter the negative feedback (there was plenty) I would finish this one.

This book, The Catalyst, received lots of negative feedback too. I was told you have to put romance in it, you have to do this and you have to do that. Then, I found some ladies in the publishing industry willing to mentor me. I learned to stand up for myself. I also learned what I was writing. The Catalyst wasn't a romance, it was women's fiction and it was about the growth of a woman. The Catalyst was e-published in October 2008, and I self-printed it in the same year. Addiction was e-published in December 2008 and again in November 2009 by a different publisher. It was released in print July 1,2010.

If it had not been for my mentors, I would have been floundering forever trying to figure out what I was writing and trying to conform to the parameters placed around me.

You have to be resilient in this industry. Rejections are inevitable, and you have to harden yourself to it. If you can develop a tough skin early you'll build a career as an author much faster.

Have a great day.

Sandy AKA Sandra K. Marshall, author of Addiction


Linda Kage said...

Sandy, what an inspiring story!! And I can totally relate. I still don't care much for rejections, but I've learned to deal with them and learn from them and move on.

Honestly, I think the only difference between a published author and non-published author is that one of them didn't give up.

Thank you for your post. This is something I always need to hear.

Renee Vincent said...

What a great success story. I love to hear about other authors' struggles...not for the sake of laughing at you, but because I can sympathize with your efforts and determination. Most things you love so much take work and in the end, if leaves you with a bigger sense of satisfaction to look back and know you finally made it. Dreams are real and there is no limit to what a person can accomplish if they just work hard.

Congrats, Sandy!

Molly Daniels said...

I agree with Linda. It's like that joke, 'How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice...'

Well, how does one become published? Persistence, persistence, persistence!

I'd rather say I tried and failed, rather than have dusty manuscripts under my bed.

Congrats to developing the thick skin and believing in yourself:)

Katalina Leon said...

Sandy it's so inspiring to meet someone who has persistence-persistence is an essential writing talent all on its own.
I think all writers need to aim their books precisely at the market they want to reach. The book market doesn't tolerate near misses these days. A romance must be a romance etc...
As a new author my advice is don't be stubborn, learn the parameters of your genre and heed those guidelines.

Sandy said...


You're so right about the difference between a published author and a nonpublished author.

There are better authors than me who gave up.

April Ash said...

You were a great help to me when I was ready to quit! You, Carla, and Cheryl all nudged me to continue and end my pity-party.
We have to be tough and believe in what we're doing.
Giving up is never an option!

Tina Donahue said...

Good for you for hanging in there, Sandy. We've all been through the same publishing minefield.

Paris said...

You have what it takes to make it in this business! Kudos to you for pursuing your dream and never giving up!

Sandy said...

Hey, all, so sorry it's taken so long to get back in here.

Renee, thank you for your kind words.

Thanks, Molly. Never quit is my motto.

LOL Kat, a lot of people equate persistence with stubborness.

Sandy said...

Yay, Marianne/Ash. She persisted and aren't you glad? I know I am.


Sandy said...

Thanks, Tina. Yes, we have.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Paris.

Yes, I know what it takes to make it in this business. You have to keep learning even after you make it.

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