We’ve all felt the sting of rejection, whether it’s yet another “no thanks” from an agent or publisher, or a “try again” from a writing contest. Writing is such a personal endeavour that perhaps authors feel rejection more keenly than most.
Every writer who has ever published any writing at all has faced rejection. Even Stephen King, in his 22 lessons on how to be a great writer, includes as his second point: “Prepare for more failure and criticism than you think you can deal with.” In fact, King famously collected all his rejection letters and hung them on his wall with a nail – until he received too many to hold. How we deal with rejection – now that’s where it gets interesting and empowering. Think of rejection as a much-needed kick in the pants.
The only stories about rejection worth retelling are those that have a silver lining. A recent article in The Globe and Mail really made us stand up and cheer: “Hooray! A positive story about self-publishing in our ‘oh so traditional’ national newspaper, in the Saturday edition no less!” They had us at the title: “Meet the self-published Canadian cookbook author who outsold Jamie and Ina.”
Greta Podleski’s latest cookbook, Yum & Yummer, has been reprinted twice since its first publication in 2017 and has sold more than 310,000 copies. It was Canada’s top-selling cookbook of 2018, besting new releases by Jamie Oliver, Ina Garten, and Yotam Ottolenghi. Sales of all her cookbooks together tally more than 2.5 million copies. How did this success story begin? Rejection. Having been turned down by every publishing house she approached for her first book, Looneyspoons: Low Fat Food Made Fun, she and her sister Janet went the self-publishing route. For her latest book, she didn’t even consider working with a publishing house: “In hindsight, being rejected by those publishers was the biggest blessing in disguise of my life,” says Podleski. “If we had landed that big publishing deal we were dreaming of, we’d be right back at our day jobs now. Two authors could never survive financially by sharing a modest author royalty.”
So when you’re faced with rejection, instead of wallowing, use it as a reset button to improve your writing, enter another writing contest, polish your manuscript (or toss it and start a new one), or even publish your book yourself. Know that you are in good company and that rejection just might lead to greater things down the road. Here are a few rejection-to-success self-publishing stories to cheer you up: 5 Famous Books You Didn’t Know Were Self-Published and 11 Books That Prove There’s Nothing Wrong with Self-Publishing.