Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guest Blogger: Terri DuLong

The Agony of Rejection
Terri DuLong

My debut novel, Spinning Forward, was released on October 27 by Kensington Publishers. All of the excitement the past few months—seeing my book cover for the first time, making plans for my book launch, counting down the days till the release—allowed me to easily forget how I got to where I’m at. I have found myself making the comparison that the process leading up to a book release is much like birthing a baby.

You plan, you anticipate, you vacillate between happiness and fear and then, like childbirth, you somehow tend to forget all the pain that was required to make the birth possible. As an author, the pain I’m referring to are the rejection letters prior to my acceptance.

I honestly couldn’t tell you how many I received because after awhile it didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was that the letter in the mail or the email was not the much coveted acceptance letter. I did find the rejection process interesting though, in the fact that the letters themselves changed over time. At first they were the standard form letters, many times with the salutation of dear author making me feel like an invisible entity. And they would briefly state, this isn’t what we’re looking for at this time or we’re sorry but your story doesn’t fit our needs. No feedback whatsoever on my story or characters, leaving me in limbo and back to square one.

However, over time this seemed to change and I don’t have an answer as to what may have brought this about. But suddenly I was receiving replies to Ms. DuLong with a bit more information. Things like we loved your character development or interesting plot, followed by but your story doesn’t fit our needs.

Did I get disgusted, disappointed, frustrated, weary and impatient? You betcha! But—I never gave up. I can’t say for certain, but I have a feeling that twenty years ago I might have. But like the character of Sydney in my novel, I strongly feel that age and time simply makes us more tenacious and determined. I felt certain that I had a good story and that an agent or an editor somewhere would eventually feel the same way. And so, I kept sending out those query letters and getting those rejection letters back. Until one magical day.

I had pitched my novel to my editor at Kensington by sending a query letter and three chapters of my manuscript. That was in July. Knowing that a reply could take anywhere from a few days to God knew when, I pretty much forgot about it. I continued writing and continued sending out more query letters. And then five months later I received an email from my editor’s assistant saying they would like to see a full manuscript. Of course my initial excitement and thought was this is it! But then I came back to the real world and realized maybe not. Maybe they wouldn’t like the entire manuscript and I prepared myself for another rejection. The more time that went by, the more I was convinced the rejection letter would arrive any day.

But almost three months later an email from my editor arrived with the subject Good News and I opened it to discover that she loved my story and wanted to offer me a two-book contract and questioned if it would be convenient to call me later that afternoon. As they say, the rest is history.

Rejection of any kind is never easy. It goes against our grain as human beings. It raises all sorts of emotions. It makes us doubt ourselves and our abilities. However, one thing I can say with certainty is that I just knew in my soul that I had a great story to tell. A story that would appeal to women. And I also knew that with each rejection letter I had two options—I could either give up or I could keep sending out those query letters. And because I did believe in myself and my writing, I chose to keep sending them.

So that pain I mentioned earlier? Oh, it’s still there . . . but believe me, once the actual birth occurred, all of those rejection letters somehow faded to a very dim memory because the focus has shifted from what might be to what is!

Happy writing to you and remember—Believe in yourself and make great things happen!

Born and raised north of Boston, Terri DuLong now resides with her husband, two dogs, and three cats on an island off the west coast of Florida. You can visit her website at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very inspirational. I love hearing about "the call."