Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rejection Isn't Always a Bad Thing

I'm no stranger to rejection. Who is? Rejection comes in many forms throughout our lives, doesn't it? Some instances hurt more than others. As a teenager, I sang with a group of girls, traveling to perform in a tri-state area. Yet, when I tried out for the Glee Club at my high school, I was rejected by the choral teacher. I was more amused than hurt. Go figure.

Other rejections have nearly cleaved my soul in two--like when my ex-husband had an affair and a child with another woman. Oh yeah, that was probably the darkest period of my life. My emotional healing took years...years.

On the other hand, if I were still married to the man, I wouldn't have my college degree or my beloved Calvin or my writing career. So, in this case, his rejection wasn't a bad thing. In fact, I nearly drop to my knees in gratitude for his betrayal. I mean, I still wish him ingrown toenails and fungus of his "mungus." Hey, I've never professed to being an angel.

As a writer, I have to be prepared for rejection. It's part of my "writerly" journey. Without a doubt, it's probably one of the rougher parts. Rejections hurt. They wound. There's no other way to put it. If more than one editor
rejects, then I have to be intelligent about the "no's" and examine my project more closely. You know, lay aside my "woe is me" feelings and put on my writer's cap. Is my storyline silly? Are my characters immature or flat? Is my conflict weak? Properly used, a rejection can prompt a writer to make a story stronger.

OR...it can lead to something else.

Around the end of January an editor at Carina Press put out a call for Christmas novellas. She listed the parameters and tropes she wanted the stories to contain. I got a bright idea to give it a try. My current WIP had hit a major wall, so jumping into another project would give my mind a rest from banging on that darn wall. The timing seemed perfect. Besides, I'd promised my agent I'd allow her to start shopping me out again. All of my titles are with The Wild Rose Press and, although I love them, Dawn wanted me to branch out, to spread my wings a little. So, I worked like a fool to write this novella and meet the editor's end of March submission deadline. My agent mailed it in a couple days prior to the cut-off date, and we began the waiting process.

Before long, we heard Santa Wore Leathers was rejected.

Well, poop!

I told Dawn to send it back and I'd do some rewrites. She insisted she'd "shop it out" to some other publishers. I figured we'd missed most publishers' holiday deadlines. Dawn, however, wouldn't be deterred. That's what agents do. They push ahead when ninnies, like me, would pull back and lick our wounds.

A couple more rejections rolled in, and I was mentally rewriting some scenes for when I convinced Dawn to let me have it back.

Then, the oddest thing happened. An editor at Random House emailed Dawn. She'd read Santa Wore Leathers and loved it, but Random House had already contracted their holiday stories for the year. So she had to pass on the novella. Did I have anything else, she asked. She loved my writing. Dawn told her I had a Scottish paranormal romance in which the first chapter took third in the Golden Acorn contest. The editor emailed back right away, asking for the first three chapters and a synopsis. Dawn called to fill me in on what she and the editor had decided, and I freaked. I hadn't worked on it in months. I only had 28,000 words written on a projected 80,000 word book. "Well, girl, you better get to writing, because we have a Big Six editor interested in it." Long story short: I have a contract with Random House with options on three more in the bear-shifter series.

Meanwhile, Crimson Romance offered on my Christmas novella. Then, two days later, HarperCollins offered, as well. Santa Wore Leathers is now contracted with HarperCollins' new romantic eBook imprint, HarperImpulse. Imagine that! But, wait, there's more. On Thursday, another Big Six publisher contacted Dawn, wanting to offer on Santa Wore Leathers, but we'd already signed the contract with HarperImpulse. The editor, who was late to the dance, asked to see anything else I wrote in the future.

So, out of a rejection for a novella came a book contract with an advance and options, a contract for the novella and keen interest from a third big publisher. Who would have thought?

Rejection is not always a bad thing. Giving up is. Had I been doing this on my own, I'd have pulled back, thrown up my hands and said, "See, I'm not good enough." But Dawn kept pushing. I guess that's what we need to do more in life--at least I do. We need to keep forging ahead and never, ever give up...NEVER!

29 comments:

Joanne Stewart said...

First off, I love Dawn's determination. When I want to give up, she doesn't and her determination gives me hope when I don't have any. That, honestly, is what makes her worth her 15% and then some.

Rejection. I've been having the same thought recently. So many publishers rejected Her Knight and it's my best seller so far. And you know about my contract with Berkley. Crimson made an offer on those books, but every other publisher....turned it down.

Just recently, Berkley turned down a project, said it wasn't what she was looking for. This time, it wasn't a bad rejection for me. I'm not bummed about it. Because i have a bit more faith now that the book will end up exactly where it's supposed to. So, these days, I tend to see all these rejections as a guiding force.

I cannot wait to get my hands on this book, V.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Great advice. I enjoyed the post. And congrats on your success. Note to self: Giving up is not an option! :)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Joanne, I think you'll understand when I say I'm very insecure about my writing. Each rejection reinforces that "less than" feeling. Dawn erases it. She keeps picking me up and kicking me in the tush...lol. I can be so supportive of others, because I believe in them. Now if only I can start believing in myself to that same degree...and that's not always easy.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

So true, Karen. In life and in our writing career, we can not give up. We keep forging ahead. Granted we may need to change course a time or two, but we shouldn't give up.

Joanne Stewart said...

Well, I'm personally glad Dawn's finally convinced you to go out on a limb. The world needs to see what you write. <3

Alison Henderson said...

Vonnie, I'm SO thrilled for you and your pile of successes! Things have a way of happening at the right time in the right way. Rejection is never easy, but I rarely let it get to me. I appreciate rejections that offer something besides "it's not for us", because they help me make my work stronger.

Linda LaRoque said...

What a happy story, Vonnie! Congratulations to you and to your agent for her persistence and resistance (in allowing you to give up on the project). Yours is one of the happiest success stories I've had the opportunity to hear.

Way to go, girl!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Joanne. Let's just hope they like it. Not everyone gets my demented, off the wall humor.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

So true, Alison. Those rejections that say "not for us" or "I couldn't connect with the characters" do little to help us grow as writers. They just leave us scratching our heads. Thanks for stopping by!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, aren't you sweet, Linda. I've been through a lot, but I've also been blessed a lot, too. I've learned to grasp onto every positive person and thing in my life and cherish them all. Thanks for peeking in at Vintage Vonnie.

Debra Jupe said...

I totally get what you're saying, Vonnie. My situation is similar to yours, as far as the ex, who valued other things besides his family. If he were still around, I wouldn't have gotten my college education, I wouldn't have started writing again, nor would I have my first contract with TWRP. I hope my path continues as yours and I get at least one of the big six to look at my work someday. And I hope one day to find me a wonderful Calvin. Keep moving forward, girlfriend, you're an inspiration to us all!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

You know how proud I am of your successes, Miz Vonnie. I love your bear shifters and the heroine. :)

I have had rejections, too, but it taught me to never give up. I had no idea how my Scottish stubborn genes worked until I started writing. It may have taken me 22 years to get that first contract, but since it was for five books and the fifth one hadn't even been started - perseverence prevailed. You see, I prefer perseverence to stubborn.

Keep up the good work and one of these days I need to get an autographed copy of your book with Paisley in it. <3 I can't wait to buy my copy of it.

Lynne Marshall said...

I love this story, Vonnie, and am thrilled for your success.

Plus I love the new look of your website -
change is good.

Very, very, happy for you.
Lynne

Angela Adams said...

You can't see me, Vonnie, but I'm standing and clapping my hands in a standing ovation to you! By the way, I'm chuckling over that picture of Santa on the motorcycle!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Debra, hon, personal rejection carries its own brand of deep wounding. I'm sorry you had to go through that, too. Healing does come. For me, it came in the form of my cherished Calvin. He, too, writes so he gets me. LOL I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for your career, too. Congrats on your first WRP contract.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Paisley--did I ever tell you how much I love the name? Wink...wink. Thanks for your kind words and for being an awesome beta reader. I love your Scottish determination. Whoot!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Lynne. Your support means a lot. Glad you like the redecorated blog home.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Angela. Wait till you meet my real Santa. He's a trip! His new neighbor thinks he's a man-whore, while he's merely trying to keep his four younger sisters in line.

Susan Union said...

Great story, Vonnie! Congrats to you! When it rains...lol

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I've said the same thing myself, Susan. For months no one wanted Santa and then baam! LOL

Georgie Tyler said...

Great blog subject, Vonnie. I know this might sound weird but rejections from publishers are kinda like miscarriages. As soon as you have a miscarriage and think you're the only one who can't hold onto her little itty baby all these women pour out of the woodwork professing they experienced the same thing. It doesn't make it easier but at least you know you're not alone.
x

Liz Flaherty said...

What a great post, Vonnie. I'm so happy for you that such good has come from such...not.

Kathryn Knight said...

Wow Vonnie what an incredible story! Huge congrats on all you've accomplished - this is all very exciting and a great reminder to never give up on your dream.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Georgie, we all share pain of one type or another...some more devastating. Thanks for stopping by.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Liz, sometimes we think a rejection is the end of a story. It's not. Every editor has his or her own likes and dislikes. It's a matter of finding the right one.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thank you, Kathryn. I wanted to shine a light of hope at the end of the dark rejection tunnel.

Mary Behre said...

What a fabulous post! Rejection doesn't always have to be bad.

I learned to think of my rejection letters as doors. Right now, they're closed, but nothing says I cannot come back and open them later with a different key.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

How right you are, Mary. I hope you bring a different key soon. ;-)

Calisa Rhose said...

I'm so excited for you, V! And for Santa, of course. Can you say proud? Yep, I'm proud to know such a talented author!