Pitch season, though thrilling and hopeful, is also known to some as rejection season. As popular programs like #AMM and #PitchWars gain momentum, helping unknown newbie authors get their names out there, the likelihood of rejection increases.
And getting rejected from one is more likely than being selected. I’m not trying to be a downer, honestly. I think of myself as a cautiously optimistic person. Sometimes the cautious part overpowers the optimistic part, but when you’ve been in this business for as long as I have, you tend to guard your heart.
Let’s be honest, rejection is an ugly word. If it had a shape it would be a knife, because it cuts us to our souls and shreds our dreams.
But #rejection is just another (possibly necessary) step in your publishing story, and it only holds as much power as we allow it. How many writers have piles of rejections either printed or in a folder hidden in the dark corner of their email? *Raises Hand* I started writing for publication in 2008. My first book came out in 2020. That is twelve years of rejections, piled high, so high it almost toppled over and crushed me beneath its weight.
When they say you can’t control anything in publishing outside of your own writing, it’s true, but there is one other thing we can control- our perseverance. Rejection is painful, it pounds on our confidence, but it is also a sign of hard work. You created something out of nothing, you stood up to the doubts and fears and said “I can do this! I will prevail!” Okay, that’s a bit cheesy, but I think a certain amount of cheese is healthy when it comes to dealing with rejection.
Not only am I familiar with rejection in the querying arena, but I also tried my hand at contests. I applied for Pitch Wars twice. I got in once in 2014, back when Pitch Wars was still a baby contest, as an alternate (I don’t think alternates are a thing anymore). I also got into the Sun Vs. Snow hosted by Amy Trueblood and Michelle Hauck. I was ecstatic. Even more so when I got requests! I was FINALLY getting somewhere, things were happening! Those requests, however, turned into, you guessed it, rejections!
I’m not telling you all of this to rain on your parade, or discourage you. I’m sharing this with you so you know there is more than one way to make it into this business.
I did end up selling the book that got me into Pitch Wars. Four years after the fact. I landed an amazing agent while querying AFTER I had signed my first book deal. I’m still here. Don’t let anyone tell you writing is the only thing you can control. You can master your own fate by sticking around. Sadly, many authors that I began navigating this career with are no longer around. Am I more talented than them? I don’t think so. Am I more worthy? Hell no. The only difference between me and them? I stuck it out. I didn’t let the rejection steam roll over me.
Another positive from trying to make your dreams come true? Friendships!
I have met some of my favorite writing people by being rejected. You will make connections in this community that you might have otherwise missed out on if you didn’t try. These friends will lift you up during the worst moments and cheer you on as you succeed.
So, please remember, that no matter what happens, whether you get into the contest or not, whether you get requests or not, rejection is just another step. And perseverance is your friend- that is what is going to help distinguish you from the rest of the pack. Also, take time to savor every victory. You deserve it.
Prerna Pickett believes in magic, fairy tales, and unicorns. Writing was always her dream job and now she gets to live the dream. When Prerna isn’t writing, she can usually be found daydreaming about writing, or at the library helping her five kids choose books.
If You Only Knew is her debut novel and is published with Swoon Reads/ Macmillan. You can find Prerna on Instagram: @watchprernawrite, Twitter: @prernapickett, or her website: prernapickett.com
Buy If You Only Knew: https://www.fiercereads.com/books/if-you-only-knew/