Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


So remember that manuscript submission contest I was chosen for? Well, let’s just say I received the first rejection I’ve gotten in a long time. Ah, the form letter rejection…how I’ve missed thee!

I can’t say this was unexpected. Even as I pitched Lost, I had a feeling it wouldn’t be for this publisher. It was so much darker than their other titles. I still think that, as an exercise, the experience of putting everything else in my life aside in order to get that book polished and ready to send was very worthwhile. I’m glad I did it, form letter notwithstanding.

I’m even a little relieved, because although that manuscript isn’t doing me any favors sitting in my figurative closet, I want to do right by it. And the more I learned about the publisher, the more I suspected they weren’t the best way to go about introducing Lost to the masses. It’s an old book, but one I still care deeply about. It’s not that this publisher isn’t great–they’ve done very good things for an online writing friend of mine. They just don’t tend to publish the type of books I write, at least as far as I can see. So they’re just not that into me…cool. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Except….

Have you ever noticed that the not-so-great stuff always seems to happen at once? This has been a rough week. I had a nasty, pointless fight with a good friend that left us both in tears. A deadline got moved up so I now have to work through the long weekend. A big bad penny turned up again. I was put in the middle of a scuffle between two clients. I came down with the cold from hell. I found out one of my favorite clients in the world is retiring. And now, the rejection of my book to top it off. There are lots of worse things that could happen to a person, I know. But as far as weeks go, this one hasn’t been too stellar.

I promised myself that if I was going to share the journey with you, I would really share the journey: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Behind every best-seller is a lot of tears, teeth-gnashing and plain old fashioned angst.

For those of you who’ve never seen a form rejection (you lucky folks), they go something like this:

Dear Author,

Thank you for participating in our first Query Blast contest. We have reviewed your submission of Lost, and I am sorry to say we have decided not to pursue it for publication.

We wish you the best of luck in your writing career and hope you will consider us for your future projects.



How do you handle rejection, Dear Readers? And how was your week?

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  1. Michelle D. Argyle

    Yeah, the old “When it rains it pours” saying is so, so true. And awful. I’m sorry all of this happened at once for you, and I’m sorry it didn’t work out with this particular publisher. 🙁

    I’ve been through my own little slew of rejections lately (long story) with a particular book, but I just had to keep going after that and it’s all working out okay in the end. Never hurts any less though. That book sounds like it’s something special to you, so I definitely hope you don’t shelve it or anything.

  2. Story Teller

    Hey Michelle,

    Thanks for your comment. This book is definitely special to me. I originally wrote it in college, for a “thesis” of sorts. At that time, it was 500 single-spaced pages and on computer disks. I was deep in the midst of a rewrite when a vengeful ex-boyfriend stole the disks. I was left with a hard copy, which I had to retrieve from a beta reader.

    There was so much work that needed to be done, and it was so frustrating to have to retype such a huge book that I scrapped it. I ended up rewriting the entire thing from scratch, keeping only some of the characters and the overall theme. I believe I spent about three years on that version.

    It’s the book that landed me my first NYC agent, and part of me believes I’ll never devote that much time to a single novel again. Not to mention the cash shelled out for a professional cover! I hope it finds its rightful home someday.

    Sorry to hear about your rejections. I’m actually feeling okay. I’m (hopefully) over the days when the publishing industry could crush me. I’ve realized that I also have to be picky about who I entrust my work to, as I’ve lived through an agent experience that was anything but rosy.

    Thanks for being there. Glad to have you in my life.

    Take care,

  3. Laura Best

    I became a bit immune to rejection over the years having collected a few file folders. Since many of these were from literary magazines they didn’t seems as horrible as if I’d been sending out a full-length novel. That said, I’ve collected my share of rejections for some of my novels as well. The truth is, some rejections sting more than others. I’m not sure why. What I do know is that even though I’m about to have my second book published, I’ll still be racking up rejections I’m sure.

    Hang in their Holli. Each rejections simply puts us one step closer to being accepted. I know you’ll get there in time. 🙂

  4. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comment, Laura. It’s always nice to see you here…you’re always so kind and encouraging.

    This rejection was nothing but the best for me, I think. The contest itself served to get my book into shape, and the publisher is clearly not a good fit for me. They like to publish genres I’m mostly not interested in. This is one of those times when everything really did work out for the best!

    Good luck with your second novel. It looks great!


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