All Great Authors are Built on Rejection by Misty Evans

~Please welcome Misty Evans.  Aspiring authors should print out this post and keep it on their desk!~Barbara

 

“Puberty is a phase…fifteen years of rejection is a lifestyle.” – Stanford, Sex and the City

 

How about five years and sixty-plus rejection letters from agents? Another two years of agent representation and a dozen rejections from top editors? Rejection as a lifestyle…hmmm….

 

My journey to become a published author had its share of highs (Meg Ruley once requested sample chapters – I nearly hyperventilated) and lows (see above rejection count – I gave up writing for a whole year after one particularly brutal one).  What I’ve ciphered from being rejected can be summed up by another quote, this one by Sylvester Stallone:

 

“I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”

 

I agree with Sly, although, I itch to fix the grammar in his sentence! I learned rejection means wake up, I’m doing something wrong. It’s time to change my approach, whether it’s writing a query letter or studying a new genre to try my hand at. Some of those above-mentioned rejections were initially acceptance letters or emails. I got my foot in the door. Hooray! A couple of agents even took their precious time and told me what to fix in my manuscript to make it more marketable. Those notes and follow-up conversations were keys to developing my story and giving me a better understanding of the publishing industry.

 

Of course, when one door closes another one falls on top of you” or so says Angus Daeyton (comedian). Which is exactly what happened to me at one point when Operation Sheba was making the rounds in NY and caught the attention of an executive editor at a major publishing house. A handful of editors had already rejected Shebagreat voice, good story, lacks market appeal, can’t place it. I had heard those rejections time and time again. Oh, and the best ones were, write something with more of a commercial slant. I want the next Janet Evanovich or Sophia Kinsella! And I would have loved to be the next Jersey Janet or Shopaholic, trust me. If I could have pulled that kind of commercial story from my brain, I certainly would have.

 

But I digress. Operation Sheba perked Ms. Executive Editor at XYZ publishing house and went to committee. This was IT. My first book was going to sell! A two-book deal had been mentioned and my mind spun with possibilities! I couldn’t sleep or eat and kept my cell phone on 24/7 waiting for the call from my agent.

 

And that’s when the other door fell on me. Ms. Executive Editor came back and wanted changes. Not simple, easy changes—she wanted a complete overhaul of the story. There was too much action and not enough romance. Too many flashbacks. Too many characters. The checklist was long and made me sick to my stomach. She was changing my characters, my plot…my very voice. But, wait, this was IT, right? This was my big break. I had to go through it, didn’t I?

 

While I stewed about this dilemma, the editor asked for a synopsis of the second book in my series to take to her committee. That book was already written so I submitted the synopsis and prayed she’d go easier on this book then the first with her suggested revisions.

 

She hated it. I wrote four more synopses (did I mention I’m a pantster and can’t write a synopsis before I write the entire book?). My brain started smoking as I tried to fit her parameters, and she KO’d all of them. I couldn’t please her, and I was deathly afraid if I tried to bring Operation Sheba up to her checklist’s requirements, I’d fail miserably.

 

And I wouldn’t like my story any longer. In fact, if I did change the story to fit her and her committee’s vision, I would hate my story. I would hate myself.

 

What should have been a high point in my career was actually the lowest of lows. I felt like an idiot, damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. My hubby, caring and wonderful man that he is, sent me this quote from the illustrious Bill Cosby: “I don’t know the secret to success, but the key to failure is to try and please everyone.”

 

I walked away from Ms. Executive Editor both disappointed and relieved. My story went out to a few more editors and while I waited for a bite, or even a nibble, I dabbled in other genres and started writing fresh stories.  However, my agent didn’t like any of the new stories and Sheba’s rejections continued to pile up. I stalled out. My self-confidence hit the skids.

 

So there I was, floundering in rejection quicksand when I remembered reading an Up Close and Personal article in RWR about Samhain Publishing, featuring Christina Brashear. I pulled out my stack of magazines and found the article. Crissy was funny, and at the same time, her business sense was obvious. Then she sealed the deal when asked this question, what is your all-time favorite fiction novel?To Kill a Mockingbird by Miss Harper Lee,” she answered. I could have hugged her. TKAM is my favorite too. *VBG*

 

I immediately went to Samhain’s website and enjoyed reading blurbs and excerpts from several of their authors; what’s more, I LOVED their covers. Some of the stories were like mine, a touch unconventional but fit into a cool niche genre. I researched electronic publishing and ebooks and talked my hubby’s ears off about this amazing *new* thing I’d discovered. LOL. Over the next week, I did more research, talked to my agent and considered the pros and cons of a small press.

 

“Great communicators have an appreciation for positioning. They understand the people they’re trying to reach and what they can and can’t hear. They send their message in through an open door rather than trying to push it through a wall.” – Professor John Kotter

 

The Samhain Publishing approach made sense to me. I asked my agent to query them. A couple months later, I signed my first contract. Three more have followed. What I’ve found in the past year is they definitely know how to send their message (their books, their authors, their brand) through an open door rather than pushing it through a wall.

 

smaller ProofI have two editors; one who works with me on my Super Agent series and one who worked with me on my paranormal novella, Witches Anonymous. Both editors are top notch and yet completely down to earth. They bring my stories to a higher level of quality but never change my voice or dampen my spirits. None of their suggestions have ever made me feel the least bit nauseous. In fact, they’ve made me smile, laugh out loud and want to hug them silly. They’ve built my self-confidence as a writer, not torn it down. They’ve never made me feel like they don’t have time for me or that I’m a pain in the backside, even though I am. They’ve encouraged me, made sure I loved my book covers, helped me write my blurbs so they shine and guided me in picking out the very best excerpts from all my stories.WA_thumb

 

Along with my fabulous editors, I’ve found a supportive group of fellow authors, outstanding cover art designers and a bevy of marketing opportunities and guidance. Crissy and her management group are top-notch. Samhain recently acquired Linden Bay Romance and continues to send their message through more and more open doors as epublishing gains momentum.

 

Rejection for me has been a blessing in disguise. At this point in my life, this publishing path fits perfectly. I love Samhain, and I still love my stories.

 

And so, I leave you with one last quote. I’ve tweaked one by famous French writer and physician Louis Ferdinand Celine. “All great authors are built on rejections.”

 

Misty Evans is an award-winning, multi-published author of CIA thrillers as well as paranormal comedy. The next book in her Super Agent Series, PROOF OF LIFE, will be released October 20th. She bases all her heroes on her hubby, who keeps her coffee cup filled, her chocolates within reach and never fails to make her laugh – even when she gets rejected. Visit Misty and her characters at www.readMistyEvans.com

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Comments
16 Responses to “All Great Authors are Built on Rejection by Misty Evans”
  1. sandrasookoo says:

    This was a great post and very timely for me personally today. While I’ve signed a handful of contracts, I received a rejection last night that totally hit me with a one, two punch. I’m actually trying to recover from it right now. How does a writer go on with momentum on the WIP while the chill of a rejection still hurts?

    Anyway, congrats on the books and the general all around happiness in your career. Best of luck for continued success!

    • Misty Evans says:

      Oh, Sandra! Hugs to you. I’m so sorry you just got hit by the rejection fairy. Rejection ALWAYS sucks.

      But…don’t give up. You’re a writer and writers write. If you’ve already signed a handful of contracts, CONGRATULATIONS!!! That’s fabulous and I guarantee there will be more contracts in your future. The sting of rejection is real, though, so give yourself a little time to work through it. Talk to your best writing buds and get some sympathy. Gather some new books you’ve wanted to read and delve in. Make yourself a triple chocolate cheesecake and eat two pieces before you share it with your neighbor.

      I always gave myself a couple of days to recoup after a rejection. Then I went back at the keyboard with a vengenence because nobody will keep me from persuing my dreams. I hope you’ll be the same way and look at this rejection as nothing more than what it is…your submission didn’t work for this person at this time. That’s business, nothing more. Now you can cross that source off your list and move on to find the perfect outlet for your work.

      Remember, Sandra, “no” doesn’t mean never, it just means not right now. Tomorrow will bring a “yes” and if you keep writing from your heart, you’ll be ready for that “yes”! Why? Because you’re a writer. 🙂

      Good luck and don’t give up!

  2. Dawn McClure says:

    Wonderful story. I think rejection letters separate those who really want it, and those who are so/so about getting published. I framed all of my rejections and (anyone who knows me will not find this surprising) flipped them off every morning when I sat down to write. lol

    I love hearing about the struggles authors go through to get that first contract, because it gives aspiring writers hope. I had a wonderful network of aspiring writers when I went through rejectionville, yet never got too down about those letters because my friends were going through the same thing. We shared all of our downs, and celebrated our achievements. We still do. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by EtS and sharing your story. It’s given me the boost I need this morning. 🙂

    • Misty Evans says:

      *snort!* Love your way of handling rejection letters, Dawn! Hilarious, but boy that’s a great way of using them as a tool to keep you pushing forward instead of letting them stop you in your tracks. I so admire writers, both pubbed and unpubbed, who find ways to understand rejection, and at the same time, use it to propel them INTO writing instead of away from it.

      I owe much to my writing buddies and close friends who helped me deal with rejection through the years. Like you said, knowing you’re not the only one getting rejected takes some of the sting out of it and friends always know how to lift your spirits and motivate you again. Every writer should have a tight circle of friends to turn to (and support).

      BTW, I love your stories, and I’m so happy you found a great publisher *wink* so you could share them with all of us!

  3. I was so sure when I sold my first story that I had finally reached the summit of the mountain. Looking back, I have to wonder at how someone who had been a member of RWA for ten years could have been so naive. Maybe it’s because after the sale isn’t focused on nearly as much as craft. Or maybe it’s just because I needed to see a summit I could reach to keep me going.

    Now I realize that being a writer is a constant journey of peaks and valleys. Not one mountain to climb, but many.

    I love your story, Misty. I love that you kept on keeping on even when close calls didn’t pan out. This morning as I read back over your post I realized *that’s* my goal. To keep on writing the stories I love to write and then find the right publisher for each one…even if that means ten different publishers:D

    • Misty Evans says:

      Barbara, thank you so much for letting me share my story with you and your readers. I hate rejection and often wish I could do more to support other writers with it, so this means a lot to me.

      When Miley Cyrus released her song, The Climb, I put it on my iPod and listened to it everyday. Just like you, I’ve realized that my journey to be an author isn’t one summit, it’s a continuous landscape of ups and downs. We enjoy the ups a lot more, but the downs teach us lessons and help us qualify why we write and determine if we have the passion and perseverance to keep writing.

      Along with becoming the best writers we can be, we also have to figure out how to send our message through an open door, which means finding the right publisher for our work. Again, perseverance is key so if, like you said, it takes submitting to ten different publishers, so be it.

      Sometimes, too, it’s a matter of timing. Ten years ago, westerns were a dead genre. Now look at them. Success often depends on reading the market as much as talent and skill. That’s another reason we have to be business people as well as artists.

      Thanks again for having me today. I’ll be back later to read comments and answer any questions.

  4. Bonnie H says:

    Thank you for sharing, Misty – it was very encouraging!

  5. Donnell says:

    Terrific, interview, Misty. This is one author whose books just keep getting better and better. Your husband’s quote so aptly applied to you. I’m thrilled to see you gaining such notoriety and popularity from your work. I expect BIG things.

  6. Misty Evans says:

    Oh, Donnell, you’re such a sweetheart! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I don’t know how much popularity I’m gaining as an author, but I’m sure happy to call you one of my dearest friends!

  7. Misty, that was truly awesome! I need to send the FF&P critique group over here to read your inspiring rejection story. Hugs to you!

    Dawn Chartier

  8. Misty Evans says:

    Hi, Dawn. I’m so glad you got something out of my story. I hope it inspires many writers to hang in there and keep trying!

    Hugs back at ya!

  9. Deidre says:

    While I hope to try my hand at writing one day, this is one of the things that would be the hardest for me. I’m very sensitive and my feelings get hurt easily, so I’m afraid very much rejection would make me a nervous wreck.

    Deidre

  10. Misty Evans says:

    Deidre, I’m in the same camp! I’m very sensitive and get my feelings hurt at the drop of the hat. Early on, I had to build up a Telfon coat…and I still keep it handy when reviews of my books come out. Luckily, I haven’t needed it too much for those. LOL. However, if you decide to share your stories with the rest of us, be sure you have a good support system and the mental frame of mind to remind yourself that writing is a business. You can’t help but get emotional now and then about rejections, but keep them in perspective. Like I mentioned before, use them, like a tool, to refine and hone your work as well as your business acumen, and nothing can stop you from fulfilling your dream!

  11. Kate Pearce says:

    Been there and done that 🙂 I’ve also turned down a NY house because they wanted me to change the stories so significantly that they wouldn’t have been mine any more. I lucked out and got another offer at the same time which I suspect made it easier to say no. But good for you for knowing your story and finding the perfect publisher and audience for it 🙂

  12. Misty Evans says:

    Kate! You’re such an inspiration. I’d admire you so much! You definitely did the right thing and ended up with a publisher who shares your vision. And how many books to you have published now? You’re doing fantastic and I know you have many great books to come.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

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