Writer Abroad has been reading an interesting book called Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang.
It’s about an entrepreneur-turned author’s personal journey with rejection. To battle his fear of rejection, he develops 100 tasks that he believes will lead to rejection in order to learn how to deal with it.
In the middle of the book, he includes a section on writers and rejection, since no one knows rejection like an author. He lists how many times famous books were rejected by agents and publishers until finally being published. The lesson, of course, is that much of rejection is opinion. Does the person you’re asking like your idea and writing or not?
To find a person who likes your work, it can sometimes take 100 agents or publishers. In other words, it can take persistence and a lot of time. In the age of independent publishing and the tendency for big houses to only publish already-proven authors and/or celebrities, how persistent should you be? Or should you even waste your time with traditional publishers?
Writer Abroad isn’t sure she has an answer to that. She knows some authors that are purely independent and never submit to traditional publishers. She knows other authors who would never dream of self-publishing—even if their work is rejected. And then there is Writer Abroad, who is open to either and thinks there is usually a clear answer to what you should do depending on the kind of rejection you receive from big publishers.
With Writer Abroad’s first book, the feedback from traditional folks was that her market was too small. That opinion seemed consistent. The rejection wasn’t about the writing or the idea—it was about the size of the readership who would appreciate it.
She could have scrapped the book because of that. But instead, that kind of rejection led Writer Abroad to publish the book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known, through her own press. Because small markets are great for independent authors—they are easier to target and market to. And since independent authors get bigger paybacks, a book with a smaller market can still make sense for them financially even if it doesn’t for a big house.
Whether to publish after “traditional” rejection depends a lot on your project. Do you have the ability to target and reach potential readers? Do you have the money to hire a good editor and designer(s)? How set were you on having the “status” of being traditionally published? Is the writing great and have you been published enough to be able to claim that? All good questions to ask.
How to do you decide what to do with rejection?