Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Owning Rejection Like a Boss, A.K.A. The Gallery of Rejection

(Scroll halfway down to the heading if want to skip my musings and get to the GALLERY OF REJECTION)

I've been on Twitter a lot lately, and watching some new, aspiring authors come up through the Pitchwars feed, has been eye-opening. I'd forgotten what it was like to be pushing your first baby out into the world. The peculiar mix of awe, hope, and terror.

But the thing it's made me most grateful for, were the years I put into developing a thick skin around rejection. Because after two agents, two traditional contracts, and books out in the world for almost three years now, there's one glaring truth that I learned early:

Rejection is everywhere in this industry. Seriously. EVERYWHERE.

The thing that surprised me over the years was that it didn't stop. Early on I thought once I was established, I could expect relief. But it doesn't matter what stage of the game you're in, rejection is literally unavoidable. And when you've finally been published? That's a unique kind of torture.

I say unique, because once a book is out in the world there's nothing you can do to change it. At every previous step, be it negative feedback on critique, revision letters from your agent, or your precious words being skewered in editing, you've always had a chance to change (or defend) the identified flaws. It's all been behind closed doors, and you've had the freedom to do something.

But reviews? That story has left the building. There's nothing you can do to change it if you think they're right. And if they aren't, their words exist in perpetuity. Not only can you not address (or answer to) the flaw, you have to let other people be influenced by that individual's perspective. *Insert sensation of medieval torture here*

Look, here's a hard truth that you'll do well to accept before you get that far: No book makes everyone happy.

Literally, not a single one.

Now, I'm actually blessed because overall, my reviews are very good. I have almost 300 reviews on Amazon and books average out at 4.5 and 4.3 stars respectively. Trust me, that's a huge relief.

But no matter how your book comes together, it will generate reviews from people who didn't connect, or just plain didn't like it. Luckily for me, in a recent conversation with Author Rebecca Podos, I discovered a brilliant (and hilarious) way to deal with the unique rejection that comes from bad reviews:

Turn them into motivational posters.

That's right. From today forward, anytime a review slices and dices my insides, I'm removing its power to hurt me by owning that sucker. 

I've already started with a few from Amazon and Goodreads. If you run into any blogger reviews that are less than complimentary, let me know. Because this is turning out to be more fun than I thought . . .

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...

Aimee L. Salter's 

Clearly I veered off course by choosing to use only one punctuation point per sentence........

That's a relief. I would have been horrified if they were only partly crap.

And I'm sorry to have put you through this.

So, you're 100% behind recommendations for Average-to-Middling?

In fairness, it was my sophomore book, so I'm counting that as a win.

I'd have to agree with you there.
I blame my editor.


  1. My first reaction after finishing this post?

    *Claps whole-heartedly*

    I LOVE the way you've turned the criticism into witticism <3 Brava

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  3. That is an incredible idea! I don't think I have any query rejections that are gallery worthy yet, but I hope to someday be rejected in such a spectacular fashion, so I can make (de?)motivational posters of my own. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ha! Here's hoping you get far enough along that you have a ton of them--only because you have thousands of positives on the other side ;)

  4. I had one query rejection that read, "You have an interesting premise, but after reading Chapter 1, this is not for me."
    I took it as, "I thought I'd like it, but it turns out you totally suck at writing."

    Then I found out that is this agent's standard rejection. I think she's a dominatrix when she's not at work.

    1. I think most of them lead very, er, interesting lives outside of publishing...

  5. I love it, Aimee. Really a gutsy take on something that can hurt. Bravo!