Writers are all too familiar with the dreaded rejection letters that are typically a large part of any author’s experience. Though expected, each rejection letter is often a hard blow to one’s self-esteem. Writers mistakenly believe that these letters are confirmation that their writing is not good enough. Many authors cannot take the rejection, and the joy found in writing often diminishes until it goes away completely. J.K. Rowling, the famous author of the hugely popular Harry Potter series of books, which were subsequently turned into movies, reassures unpublished writers that even those who have risen to the top of the publishing empire have faced great rejection. She encourages others to keep moving on and not allow the rejection letters to dash their dreams of becoming a professional writer.
According to USA Today, J.K. Rowling says she put her very first rejection letter on her refrigerator. That’s certainly a different tack than the vast majority of writers take, but Rowling swore from the beginning she would not be deterred by the plethora of rejection letters she certainly would receive.
“I wasn’t going to give up until every single publisher turned me down, but I often feared that would happen. I had nothing to lose and sometimes that makes you brave enough to try.”
It’s hard to believe that such a renowned author would receive rejection letters, but it’s just par for the course. In fact, J.K. Rowling decided to pen her latest book series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Though she is quite obviously a fabulous writer, a fact that’s confirmed by her huge fan base, her works that were seemingly submitted by an unknown author were nevertheless the subject of rejection letters. CBS News reports that The Cuckoo’s Calling, which is part of a series of mystery novels, were not at first well received. Even after huge success, without the popular name she’s made for herself, J.K. could not sell the series right away. In a hilarious twist, one of the rejection letters offered tips to improve her cover letter and writing pitches. Stephen King is another author who has always been upfront about his many, many rejection letters. Apparently, persistence is the key to getting published. Expert Enough notes that Stephen King grouped all his rejection letters on a nail in his wall. When that was full, he impaled them upon a spike. Yes, this definitely seems a fitting end for rejection letters.
“By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
King also encourages others not to worry too much about the criticism received from professionals. Write the way you want, and don’t give too much credit to the critics.
“If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.”
Stephen King says it’s important to know who your ideal reader is, and write with the responses of that person in mind.
“If you know the tastes of your Ideal reader at least half as much as I know the tastes of mine, it will be not difficult for you to imagine what he will like, and what – not.”
The bottom line is that writers will receive rejection letters. It’s not a matter of whether or not you are good at what you do, persistence will pay off; and, one day, the letter you receive will not hold a message of rejection.
[Image credit: Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press]