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Happy New Year!

Sorry I haven’t been making the rounds lately. I didn’t plan on taking time off over the holidays, but as it turned out, I needed to. I completely crashed, but I’m slowly coming back to life.

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season and began 2016 feeling refreshed.

Some of you may remember me posting about an ingenious program offered by life coach Tiffany Han. The goal of the program is to get 100 rejection letters – the idea being that if you actually seek rejection, you will no longer be afraid of it. Obviously you’d have to submit a lot to come close to getting 100 rejections, thereby greatly increasing your chances of success.

While I didn’t sign up for Han’s formal program, I saw no reason why I couldn’t go after the rejections on my own. So on January 1, 2015, I resolved to submit my work 100 times during the year – a huge increase over what I would normally send out.

I’m proud to say that this is one resolution I kept! It took me until December 31, but I did put myself out there 100 times, which included submitting my novel for reviews and entering contests.

Did I receive 100 rejections?

Hardly. Based on my rudimentary calculations, I’d need to submit about 270 things in order to get 100 rejections (if there were no acceptances in the mix). From submitting 100 times, I collected a paltry 36 rejections, but more can be assumed from non-responses.

While this wasn’t the year I got a shiny new agent or a six-figure book deal, I definitely benefited from putting myself out there.

  • I received more full and partial requests for my novels than ever before (at one point, I had over 20 partials/fulls in the hands of agents and editors) and a lot of them are still under consideration;
  • My novel definitely got more reviews than it would have if I hadn’t asked;
  • Some of the reviewers I reached out to became friends;
  • I got at least two new freelance clients;
  • I received some incredible feedback that will make my novels stronger. One agent spent over 30 minutes talking to me on the phone, while others took the time to write pages of suggestions. Rather than be discouraged, I was incredibly grateful for their insight.
  • I even had to make some of my own rejections, including one publisher and one agent.

Best of all, I am no longer afraid of rejections. Weird as it sounds, it felt awesome each time I could add another one to the list. They no longer send me into a spiral of self-doubt and self-loathing.

I’ll definitely do it again. I already have two rejections and one success in 2016 – not bad for January 6th.

How do you feel about rejections? Do they upset you, or do you look at them as steps leading you closer to success? What’s the worst/weirdest rejection you’ve ever received?

The Insecure Writerโ€™s Support Groupโ€™s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. Itโ€™s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

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48 Comments

  1. Denise D Hammond

    Glad to see you back. I too have not been posting as much. Happy New Year to you.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Denise! It’s good to be back…I think.

      Completely normal to need a break now and then. Happy New Year to you as well!

      Reply
  2. Hunter Shea

    Ah, rejections. I have a whole file cabinet full of them. Funny thing is, they never bothered me. Do I crave rejection? No. But I got very used to it in my teen years. LOL

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s awesome that they never bothered you, Hunter. I’d say that’s a super power!

      Now and then, I still get one that knocks me for a loop. The contests are the hardest, because when I was a young writer, I won every one I entered. That’s not the case anymore.

      Reply
  3. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    That is awesome! What a challenge to undertake. You reaped a lot of benefits and there still might be an acceptance in the mix.
    I really should reach out to more reviewers. Just so few who review my genre.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Alex! I needed to send two things out a week…not much, when you think about it. Contests like #pitmad really helped, because I’d send out eight to ten submissions at once.

      If you do a search for sci-fi reviewers, a bunch should come up. That’s what I did for horror. Or reach out to other writers in the same genre.

      Reply
  4. Elle

    Rejections are terrible. They take the wind right out of my sails.

    Maybe I should clarify – they are terrible for my ego. I’ve been very lucky that a couple of them have had great notes attached, which I used to strengthen my story. But they still suck. Give me acceptances every time.

    Congrats on making your goal. That is incredible – and a lot of work. Good for you!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Elle.

      The more you put yourself out there, the less rejections will have the power to wound you.

      That said, there’s still a couple that have really knocked me back. Contests are the worst! I try not to get my hopes up, but I haven’t mastered that skill yet.

      Reply
  5. Chrys Fey

    I think rejections can be a good thing. You can learn from them, and I believe that you get a rejection when it’s not your time or your books time. It’s better to get a rejection than an acceptance when you’re not ready. So many things can go wrong. Plus, those rejections mean that agent or publisher was not right for you. You want to find the right obe, so in that case rejections are good.

    Reply
    • JH

      True enough, Chrys. From my limited experience with agents, I know you definitely want to find one who is insanely committed to your novel – not one that goes into it with any misgivings at all.

      Reply
  6. Roland Yeomans

    I did my own post today on rejection. What with the IWSG Anthology winners announcing today, there is a lot of thinking about rejection now for sure. If you get nothing but rejections, it can be an effort to keep on going. Best of luck with 2016 for you and I wish for a lot of acceptances for you!!

    Reply
    • JH

      Same to you, Roland. I feel your pain. I wasn’t accepted to the anthology either, and it was definitely disappointing. I loved the story I wrote and had a lot of fun with it – but I knew I was taking a risk with how I approached it.

      Good luck in 2016! May it be a happy, successful year for us both.

      Reply
  7. Chris Chelser

    I love your attitude! My goal this year is to submit stuff, period. Nowhere near as much as 100 times, but anything over twice a year would be an improvement.

    Am I ready to deal with the rejections? Not at all, which is probably why I have been putting it off. Of course I will need to have something to submit first ;P

    Reply
    • JH

      Ah, having something to submit…that’s a hurdle. In some cases, I submitted ideas – for my magazine pitches, I only needed an idea for a story rather than the actual completed story in hand. That helps.

      Good luck in 2016! Keep me posted – I wish you well.

      Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Anna. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  8. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    I love the way you modified that idea! It’s funny, because while I don’t like rejections, I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of them. And yet, I didn’t put my work out there nearly as much as I could have last year. Hmm, maybe I’m afraid of them after all! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    Reply
    • JH

      Feel free to accept the challenge with me, Madeline. We can hold each other accountable.

      I’ve spent far too much money on life coaches and programs as it is. This one I had to do on my own. One thing I’ve realized is – if you aren’t ready to do the work, no amount of coaching is going to help you.

      Reply
  9. Bonnie

    Wow. Impressive submitting. I can’t imagine sending out 100 queries. It’s interesting how little feedback you did get. Maybe more editor/agent websites should say you may not hear back from us at all.

    I’m still new to this, so I’ve only sent out 6 queries and I was thrilled when I finally got my first response 5 months later. It was a lovely and encouraging rejection. I’m at the stage of ‘any feedback would be great’. Also, I tend to look at the bright side of everything (annoying huh?)

    Good luck for 2016. Hopefully, you’ll find that ‘one’ special agent that loves your work and you won’t have to send out 100 submissions this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • JH

      Not annoying at all! I love your positive attitude, Bonnie.

      I’ll send out 100 submissions even if I do get an agent, because I haven’t given up on international magazines and contests. Hopefully I’ll start getting more yeses soon. Congrats on your first rejection!

      A lot of agents simply don’t respond anymore and others take six to eight months to reply. It’s not a fast or easy process, that’s for sure!

      Reply
  10. Yolanda Renee

    I’ve always thought I was the rejection queen. I may shed a tear, I may shed a lot of tears – depending on if it’s personal or professional. But if I stopped moving forward – I wouldn’t be a writer, I’d only be a reader lost in my dreams instead of pursuing them!
    Rejection is just a pot hole in the road of life!

    Reply
    • JH

      Welcome to my blog, Yolanda! Good for you for putting yourself out there so often. It isn’t easy.

      You’re right – rejections are something we must face as writers if we want to make our dreams a reality.

      Reply
  11. Ryan

    Honestly, I expected rejections to be more painful. They weren’t pleasant, but I was able to distance the rejection of my work (which I think I poorly marketed) from a rejection of me. That made all the difference. I’m not sure I can handle the anxiety of 100 queries, but I certainly plan on putting myself out there again.

    Reply
    • JH

      Awesome, Ryan! Never give up. The fact that you were able to separate rejections of your work from rejections of self is remarkable. It takes most writers years to acquire that skill.

      Welcome to my blog!

      Reply
  12. C. Lee McKenzie

    Upping your chance for acceptance is a fantastic goal! Glad you did it.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Lee. Me too.

      Hopefully I’ll have more to report at the end of this year!

      Reply
  13. Crystal Collier

    I love it! That’s totally what I’m going to aim for this year with one book I anticipate pushing out toward large presses. (Scary stuff, right?) It will happen though. The goal is there. The concept is good. Is it good enough? Only the rejections will tell.

    Here’s to an epic 2016!

    Reply
    • JH

      Congrats on being accepted to the IWSG anthology, Crystal! I think your epic 2016 has already begun. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Good luck with marketing your manuscript this year. If you want an accountability buddy, just let me know.

      Reply
  14. Dianne Salerni

    Rejections still feel like a sucker punch to the gut, but I’m getting better at bouncing back from them.

    Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. (Do they still make Weebles?)

    Congratulations on putting yourself out there and growing professionally!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Dianne! The more rejections you receive, the less individual ones will hurt…I promise.

      Although, I must admit, when you try for something you really, really want, it always hurts to get that NO.

      But better to try and fail than not try at all, right? Sooner or later we have to succeed.

      Reply
  15. CD Gallant-King

    I think you’ve proposed a challenge… 100 rejections? And by “actively seeking” I assume you mean “purposefully writing things to get you rejected?”

    I can get a hundred rejections that way in a week!

    (In all seriousness it’s a fabulous idea… and I may still do that!)

    IWSG January

    Reply
    • JH

      Ha! Thanks, CG. I never thought of it that way, but by “actively seeking,” I meant submitting my work instead of sitting on it…which I suspect you knew. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Welcome to my blog! I hope you accept the challenge and run with it.

      Reply
  16. Patricia Lynne

    Rejection is scary, but it’s a good thing. We don’t know until we try, right? So suck it up and give it a shot.

    Reply
    • JH

      Exactly, Patricia. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that jazz.

      All the best in 2016!

      Reply
  17. Dean k miller

    Rejections come in many forms and also provide a variety of motivational pushes. My weirdest: Asked to right a story for an anthology, sent it in, than told “not enough room.” Oh well, I’ve got a good story to put somewhere else!

    Reply
    • JH

      True enough, Dean. It’s never a wasted effort.

      I once had an agent use my own SASE to send me an advertisement for his “How to get published” book. That had to be my weirdest – and most offensive – rejection!

      Reply
  18. Frank

    I think this is tricky. The idea behind the challenge is to get people to send stuff out, even if rejection is the outcome. Frankly, there is little to fear in rejection because there is no consequence. Worst case, you’re out some postage cost. No one is going to punish you for a submission they didn’t like. Chances are, they won’t remember you in a week.

    So in that sense I see the value.

    On the other hand, I could submit 100 romance stories to a sci-fi magazine and get 100 rejections and never understand why without feedback, which a lot of rejections do not contain. An extreme example but it illustrates a point.

    Getting over a fear of rejection is great but not if that is your only growth. If you’re being rejected because you’re submitting to the wrong place or you’re dialog is stiff and boring or your premise is so implausible high school kids on a paint high wouldn’t believe it, you need guidance that most rejection just doesn’t offer.

    Reply
    • JH

      Definitely Frank. I think Han spells it out more in her actual program, but for the 100 rejections process to be of value, you still have to do the usual work before submitting – making sure agents actually rep your genre, etc.

      Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.

      Reply
  19. dolorah

    I like that you challenged yourself to send out at least a hundred submissions. That is a lot, and garners a lot of fears too. But like you said, got some good feedback too, which is a lot of help. Congrats.

    Happy new year ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Dolorah! Happy New Year to you as well!

      The process wasn’t as frightening as I thought it would be. I had two or three rejections that really got to me, but none of them were from agents.

      Reply
  20. Sara C. Snider

    That’s awesome that you sent out so many queries and got so much value out of it. Who knows what this year will bring? I don’t query too much, but the few times I have and have gotten rejected, I just shrug. For me, rejection is the status quo and is expected. The day I actually get an acceptance will be an aberration and I probably won’t know what to do with myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Happy New Year, J.H.!

    Reply
    • JH

      Happy New Year, Sara!

      The first time I got an acceptance letter from an agent, it looked just like a typical rejection – only a couple of words were different. I almost threw it out before realizing I had an offer!

      Reply
  21. Phyl Campbell

    Congratulations on getting helpful responses!
    I need to submit to marketing agencies or something along those lines… People enjoy my work and knowing an indie author, but they don’t drum up the excitement of JKR or RR like I’d like. And the interest is not bankable. A marketing team would help with that, but the time to invest in finding someone worthy… Ugh!
    I hope the year continues to fill with good things for you! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Reply
    • JH

      Good luck with your search, Phyl – a marketing team is definitely worth it, but even their results aren’t guaranteed. That’s exactly the kind of work I do. If you’re interested, check out my Services page. It’s an investment, to be sure, and usually with a long-term payoff, not just a short-term.

      All the best in 2016!

      Reply
  22. Stephanie Faris

    When I was sending queries out to agents, if I wasn’t getting rejections, I wasn’t sending enough queries out. Personally I still prefer to always have multiple books out there at once so that if I get a rejection on one, I have other possibilities.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s a great strategy, Stephanie. I had a few out, but will have a lot more if this year of rewriting goes as planned.

      Reply
  23. Heather M. Gardner

    Great job! I love that you are finding a positive spin for them!

    We’ve got to keep moving forward if we want to get anywhere!

    Heather

    Reply
    • JH

      I agree, Heather. Thanks for the kind words – all the best in 2016!

      Reply

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