Back when I was in my late twenties or early thirties, I learned about something called a “rejection quota.” At the time, that human potential teacher applied the concept to finding a spouse. The idea is that you have to get rejected a certain number of time before you get accepted by the “right” man or woman and find your soul mate. The number of times you get rejected differs for each person. You have to meet your quota, then everything turns around.
This concept, however, can be applied to jobs, sales calls and query letters.
I remember a funny story about a guy standing on a corner and asking girls who passed by for a date. He wanted to get his rejection quota met and move on–fast! It’s too bad we can’t do that with our query letters…or maybe we can. Send out a bunch of simultaneous submissions!
Seriously. It’s important to realize that everyone–or almost everyone–experiences some degree of rejection. As a writer you may experience more of it than other people, especially if you pitch your work to publication editors, literary agents and publishers. I’ve, therefore, found it useful to keep that rejection quota in mind. It’s a nice way to remind myself that at some point, the rejections are bound to turn into acceptances. Try it, you might find it helpful as well!
Additionally, if you are feeling dejected by the stack of growing rejection letters on your desk, look at some successful writers who also experienced a fair amount of rejection. For instance, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen got rejected a whopping 123 tines before their bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul got picked up by a publisher. They could have given up, but they didn’t. And they’ve gone on to write a number of bestsellers, not to mention all the great titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
I heard Canfield once suggest that when you get a rejection letter you look at the return address and say, “Oh, I must have sent that query (or proposal) to the wrong address. Next time I’ll send it to the right address.” In other words, be determined, committed, persistent. Persevere! Never give up.
Take heart in the fact that you aren’t alone in your rejection, and know that you can achieve acceptance for your work. However, be sure you do the following if you are getting a lot of rejection letters:
- re-evaluate the quality of your writing
- re-evaluate the marketability of your work
- determine if you have an author platform
- have your proposal or query professionally edited
- seek professional help to evaluate your writing and your project
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you continue getting rejections, don’t be the crazy person who just keeps sending out the same work over and over again without a second thought. It could be that a tiny tweak to your query letter will make a difference to the next agent or acquisitions editor.
Or not. Maybe you just need to send out more letters and meet that rejection quota!