Writing Advice

Rejection: Or when to seek out famous rejected authors

I am ‘waiting for news’.

I am always ‘waiting for news’.

I have been in the state of ‘waiting for news’  for a very long time. I’m an old hand at it – I finish a book, or revisions or a synopsis, send it to my agent and get on with something else. That’s the only way to stay sane until ‘news’ arrives.

And usually, it’s news like this:

‘We really liked this but’…

‘I loved what she did here but…’

‘This was a strong submission but…’

But, but, but is the story of my life and I am not alone. A new SCBWI member posted on facebook that she’d  had a rejection – her first – she felt like giving up, she was so demoralised. I know.

We all know, because EVERY writer gets rejected. Well nearly every writer – I do know one who has never received a rejection and is on her third book but she is definitely the exception to the rule:


So this is what you do.

You put aside the letter and make a cup of tea. You break off a slab of chocolate and stuff it in your face then you read this list:

Madeline L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time rejected 26 times.

Frank Herbert – Dune rejected 20 times.

JK Rowling – Harry Potter rejected at least 12 times

Margaret Mitchell had Gone with the Wind rejected 38 times.

Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries? 17 rejections.

Richard Adams – Watership Down 26 rejections.

Agatha Christie, Salman Rushdie, John Grisham, Malorie Blackman, James Patterson, Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Graham – all rejected.

Beatrix Potter and Marcel Proust so soundly rejected they paid for their own publication.

Getting it? You are in good company.

Right, now take your cup of tea and go back to that rejection letter. Does it give you anything you can learn from? If it does – hoorah! The sender thinks you are worth more than a standard rejection letter. This is good news. If it doesn’t – well  – stick it on a pile. One day you can count them all up and tell someone reassuringly how many times you were rejected before you were nominated for the Carnegie.



Post Script! Five years later Kathryn Evans was genuinely nominated for the Carnegie Medal with her award winning debut novel More of Me! Keep the faith people, you never know how close you are!