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Thread: How many rejections did you get before you were published?

  1. #1

    How many rejections did you get before you were published?

    After years (literally, years) of working on one particular project, I have finally finished editing and begun querying/submitting. I definitely know to anticipate a wave of rejections, but I'm curious to hear from published authors who got published by sending unsolicited queries and manuscripts--how many times were you rejected before a publisher showed interest?
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  2. #2
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I am a newbie writer and got about five or six rejections before getting a contract offer from a small digital publisher.

  3. #3
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    It was 26 years ago and it was a non-fiction book. I was lucky and got snagged after about 11 submissions (my old paper records indicate). If it had been a novel, it would have taken an endless amount of subs or probably not picked up at all. The first novel, eight years ago, was about 35 or 40 subs without an agent. It might have been a little more. Digital records are gone on that one.

  4. #4
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Many many many dozens, hundreds even. For manuscripts submitted through the standard "process", the meter is still running.

    But it's running low, as I don't submit much anymore, there being no obvious reason to do so.

    caw
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  5. #5
    Nerdy Budgie Literateparakeet's Avatar
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    I just started the process of sending out query letters (or the full non-fiction proposal depending on the agent's preference.) I got my first rejection in less than 24 hours. I think that must be some sort of record! LOL!

    Good luck to you!

  6. #6
    Red fish, blue fish... J.S.F.'s Avatar
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    I started writing at the age of forty-eight (fifty-one now) and got rejected by the mainstream book publishers a lot. Then my sister suggested e-books--you gotta start somewhere--and I got an acceptance within three months. Yes, I was very lucky.

    Now, I do mainly e-books...but I'm still querying agents for the traditional paperback route. And I'm still writing and learning. All in all, it's been a pretty cool ride...and it ain't over yet!

  7. #7
    I just wanted to comment that this post is pretty cool. I like to here stories of other writers. Thanks

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Literateparakeet View Post
    I got my first rejection in less than 24 hours. I think that must be some sort of record!
    So I'm not the only one?!

    True story: the publisher that rejected me in less than 24 hours said they really liked the premise of the work I submitted, but that they have a terrible track record of promoting their materials and that they were basically a waste of time for prospective authors. Wow... I guess I should be prepared to see some interesting responses as time goes on...
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  9. #9
    delicate #!&@*#! flower Perks's Avatar
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    Between two novels, including the rejecting agents and editors, I'd say right around 100. I remember I stopped counting at 76.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Perks View Post
    Between two novels, including the rejecting agents and editors, I'd say right around 100. I remember I stopped counting at 76.
    *Jaw drop*
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  11. #11
    delicate #!&@*#! flower Perks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by impossiblewords View Post
    *Jaw drop*
    Yep. Most of those were with the first book, now safely trunked away with all the training wheel marks all over it. But, it's been worth it. This past year and half, I've ticked many dream-come-true boxes.

  12. #12
    Out, damn'd spot! out, I say. Lady MacBeth's Avatar
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    I stopped counting the rejections years ago. I try to concentrate on the acceptance letters. They are fewer in number, but much nicer to think about.

  13. #13
    delicate #!&@*#! flower Perks's Avatar
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    Oh wait. Probably a dozen or so of that hundred were a short story I tried to peddle to no avail as well.

  14. #14
    Out, damn'd spot! out, I say. Lady MacBeth's Avatar
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    Perks, you are living every writer's dream.

  15. #15
    delicate #!&@*#! flower Perks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady MacBeth View Post
    Perks, you are living every writer's dream.
    Except for this Barnes & Noble thing, yeah, it's been awesome.

    Impossiblewords, I guess what to take away is that there is a chance that even with years of work behind you, there could be some good few rejections ahead. There might not be. You just have to find any way you can to be okay with the rejections.

    It took me eight years. (Well, eleven with a three year hiatus in there.) I hope it doesn't take that long for you, but I would say that I still had a wonderful time in those years, peppered with about 100 rejections.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Perks View Post
    Except for this Barnes & Noble thing, yeah, it's been awesome.

    Impossiblewords, I guess what to take away is that there is a chance that even with years of work behind you, there could be some good few rejections ahead. There might not be. You just have to find any way you can to be okay with the rejections.

    It took me eight years. (Well, eleven with a three year hiatus in there.) I hope it doesn't take that long for you, but I would say that I still had a wonderful time in those years, peppered with about 100 rejections.
    You know, I'm going to enjoy writing whether the responses are rejections or acceptance letters. All in all, any response I get is just proof that I at least gave it a shot.
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  17. #17
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by impossiblewords View Post
    You know, I'm going to enjoy writing whether the responses are rejections or acceptance letters. All in all, any response I get is just proof that I at least gave it a shot.
    Ya, those who dare sometimes take the fair. You have to give it a shot just so know you've been there and tried. Nothing to lose, but quite a bit to gain if it works out.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Perks View Post
    Between two novels, including the rejecting agents and editors, I'd say right around 100. I remember I stopped counting at 76.
    considering your current success, this is actually a wonderful story (and I bet you didn't think so at the time!)


    I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning. - Peter de Vries

  19. #19
    They've been very bad, Mr Flibble Mr Flibble's Avatar
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    Trying for agents, with previous books, quite a lot. (I did publish several with small presses). I even got one rejection ..er..I think it was a year after the book came out.

    The book that got my agent, none. Got an offer from the first agent I queried.

    Thing is, it's going to vary wildly, depending on your writing and WHAT you're writing. The previous books I got a lot of 'Nice writing, but not what we're looking for'. This book was exactly what my agent was looking for* (and ultimately what my publisher was looking for too)


    *which is why I subbed to him first, as he'd spoken about wanting exactly this kind of thing.




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  20. #20
    resident curmudgeon
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    My number was zero. First three short stories and my first novel all sold first time out. But this means nothing. Some of my favorite writers were rejected hundreds of times before selling anything. William Saroyan received more than four thousand rejections before selling a single short story.

    Selling si selling, regardless of how many rejections precede the sale.

  21. #21
    Migam eyeblink's Avatar
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    I sold the second short story I submitted to a magazine, though I'd had earlier ones unplaced in the competitions I submitted them to.

    That said, twenty-two and a half years after that first sale, and forty-one separate stories sold at least once, I have at least as many rejections as acceptances.
    "The afterlife is like Aldershot." (from Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel)

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  22. #22
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Perks and Mr. Fibble. Really happy for your success and determination. Your are two examples, among many in here, that have grasp the brass ring and soldiered on (should have meant the "golden" ticket). Two fabulous hits in a sea slush and turmoil.

    tri

  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW kelliewallace's Avatar
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    My crime novel took nearly a year. My agent at the time had trouble selling it so I wondered if it was me. Almost gave up on it. I'm thinking I got about 30 odd rejections. It was finally contracted by my publisher.

  24. #24
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    I got rejected countless times for my first book. Then a year later, (after an editor encouraged me to do so) I revised and when I submitted the second time, I had a few offers right away. The second one was published by the same publisher.

    The third one I got an agent for after 30 or so rejections only one agent was interested then offered. And even though we parted ways, she referred me to a publisher that later on accepted.

    My fourth about a handful of rejections, then I got an agent who was crap, so I fired her and did it on my own. I was very selective when I submitted and the process itself dragged on for two years total, but got an awesome publisher for that one too.

    My fifth novel is a pimple on my ass that won't pop. I've drowned out probably every agent out there in the world that accepts that genre have gotten a lot of interest, but no go. I've also submitted to about 40 or so publishers and have gotten really really close, 5 different revisions in total and the thing still hasn't popped with anyone yet. But it would break my heart and then some if I decide to trunk it.

    Working on a sixth novel and hope things will be easier...but I have a feeling they won't.

  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW girlyswot's Avatar
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    Two. I submitted two books to Mills and Boon (Harlequin) which were both rejected and at the time, there wasn't really anywhere else taking that sort of book. So I self-published them.

    Then I submitted a third book to M&B and also to Entangled, who were a new company interested in category romance. Entangled offered me a contract, so I withdrew the sub from M&B. I'm on my fourth book with Entangled and about to send in my next proposal to my editor there.

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