A Blog Post To Keep You From Getting Anywhere Near That Ledge

Several of my Twitter/blog friends who are aspiring authors have recently finished their novels and now stand on the brink of querying. Exciting, right? Yes, but it’s also mind-numbingly scary. Just researching which agents to query is enough to make some of us want to break all the dishes in our cabinets and stick tape on our cat’s paws, just so someone else will be more frustrated than we are.

(By the way, if you’ve never seen what a cat does when tape gets stuck on its paw… well. It’s pretty funny. But I’m not recommending that you do it. I’m just saying, one time it happened to my cat, and I laughed so hard I almost caught a cramp.)

(If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding from PETA.)

Anyway, today I wanted to give you all a bit of encouragement as you face the rejections that, I’m sorry to say, are inevitably coming your way. Are you ready? Here we go!

1) Kathryn Stockett, bestselling author of The Help, spent five years trying to get an agent. She stopped counting after 45 of them rejected her, but she thinks the final tally was somewhere around 60 rejections.

2) Judy Blume says she got “nothing but rejections” for two years straight.

3) JK Rowling spent six years writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which is the first book of her seven book series. Nine publishers rejected the book. This doesn’t sound like many, but when you think about how amazing her writing is? Nine is a lot.

4) Stephen King received the following rejection for his book entitled Carrie: “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”

5) Here are four more books you may have heard of, with the number of rejections they received next to them:
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – 17
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 38
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – 26
Dune by Frank Herbert – 20

So, you see, once those rejection slips start showing up? Just remember: You’re not alone. There are no great authors out there who never dealt with rejections. It happens to absolutely everyone.

As for me, I was fortunate enough to gain representation by a literary agent back in January 2009, but this is still the beginning of the road for me. I’m sure there are plenty more rejections in my future – but you know what? If Stephen, Judy, JK, Meg, and all the rest of them got through it, I’m sure I will, too!

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13 thoughts on “A Blog Post To Keep You From Getting Anywhere Near That Ledge

  1. Jess says:

    I love the new blog look!

    Who's your agent?

    And – then there are the stats for writers querying agents & then pubs (across multiple books) that adds up – I know one who got over 1,000 (yes with the comma) before she got a book published, and now she's made the NYT list.

  2. Heather says:

    You made me laugh and cry in the same post! Thank you. As I sit and wait by the phone and computer to hear from my agent about what editors are thinking of my series, I really needed that. You're the best!

  3. Shannon O'Donnell says:

    I don't think we can ever hear stuff like this enough. This process is so difficult and so long a journey, that I think we all suffer sorrows and setbacks along the way.

    Thanks, Anne! 🙂

  4. Heather says:

    Great post…I'm not ready to query yet, but when I am I'll have to keep these numbers in mind! I also plan on saving all my rejections, so that when I finally do get a "yes" I can stick my tongue out at all those people who rejected me (I'm very adult and professional, in case you didn't know).

  5. Anne Riley says:

    I'm so glad it helped everyone out! I know that it really cheers me up to remember that people like JK Rowling know EXACTLY how we feel as we read these rejections. They have all been there, you know? It's such a comforting thought.

  6. Carolina Valdez Miller says:

    I'll be back in he query madness soon. Aye ya yay. Scary stuff. Horribly stressful. Thank you for this post. It's so good to have these reminders. And I absolutely cannot wait for the day a publisher picks up your book. It's going to be beautifl.

  7. Anne Riley says:

    Carol – I can't wait, either! Ha ha! And I also can't wait to read your book. Let me know if I can help you in any way as you query…

    Jemi – I know, isn't it crazy? I'm sort of glad I didn't know how much work it would take before I started. I might have been too intimidated to take the task on!

  8. Ansley says:

    Ok, new fun thing to do to a cat….

    Take a big piece of tin foil and wrap it around your cat's middle and then stand back and watch. My brothers and I almost peed ourselves we laughed so hard.

    P.S. PETA, no cats were harmed in this story.

  9. Anne Riley says:

    HA! That is awesome! And listen, it would be totally justified. Peach (our cat) likes to hide behind things, jump out and scare the crap out of me, then wrap around my ankle and rabbit kick me until I bleed.

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