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The Realities of Rejection: An Honest Post…

August 16, 2021

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This blog contains rejections from publishers which should hopefully ease your fear over them. They’re not nasty, they’re not telling me to give up my day job. I think it’s beneficial to share with you how honest rejection feels and what it looks like.

I’ve written three books which my agent has received and read. And none of them have been published… yet.

While I’m on the eve of discussing, then making changes to my third manuscript with my agent, I thought I’d be honest about what happened to book number one: The Hidden. Yes, this is the book that I believed would have me there at the finish line with a publishing contract in my hand. Because The Hidden was THE book. The one that got me my awesome agent. The one I’d worked on in Curtis Brown Creative. The one I’d had many, many people gush over. I truly believed if they all loved it, so too would a publisher.

When we submitted The Hidden to publishers at the beginning of the year, I thought (like most would), that now I have an agent, I’ll DEFINITELY secure a publisher. I soon learnt this is not always the case. After talking to many, many authors from all over the world, I now understand that many of them only secured a deal with a publisher after the second, sometimes third book! Oh my God, I felt sick when I heard about this.

And now, I can say that I’m one of those writers. The one who didn’t get published the first time around. Initially, this was really hard to digest and in a way, I sometimes think I’ve blocked out the emotions while powering on with the other two novels. And realistically, this is the only way I could have written another two novels. I’ve never been one to fall in a heap and give up. I know I’m so well looked after with the agency representing me. And with the feedback I’d received from publishers (down below), I suddenly knew what they wanted and how to make it better.

So what did I do and how have I coped with rejections?

  • I kept writing. Because I knew/know that the more novels I have under my belt, publishers will have more than one to choose from.
  • I kept writing. Because that is who I am and what I do, contract or not.
  • I kept writing. Because writing is what makes me happy.
  • I kept writing. Because the more I write, the better I become. Already my agency has told me that my writing has elevated dramatically since book one.
  • I kept writing. Because that’s the only way I’m going to get there.
  • I kept writing. Because failure is not an option.
  • I kept writing. Because that’s what my agent expects from me.

You get the point. I didn’t come this far, write this much, join a community of like-minded people, interview many authors from all over the world, build amazing contacts, network with bestselling authors, FEEL like a writer, to just give up. And it’s this kind of attitude that will help me succeed and achieve.

So if you’re reading this and you want to give up on submitting to agents, just don’t. Do it for all those reasons above. Just do it anyway.

Below are some of the lovely comments I received from publishers, some generic, some really personal, none of them scary.

  1. loved the atmosphere that Holly evokes – and I think the characterisation is superb. I’m so sorry, though, that ultimately I didn’t think The Hidden would be the perfect match for my list as I didn’t quite love it quite enough, and every author deserves the most passionate publisher championing their book.
  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story. Holly is clearly a talented writer, the tone of the writing drew me in instantly, the twists and turns work very well and the Lake District setting is wonderfully atmospheric (I could picture the house exactly!). However, after careful consideration, we have unfortunately decided not to pursue the project any further. The market is so competitive at the moment that we have to be absolutely certain that we can go out with a real splash before offering for new talent, and while I very much enjoyed reading the story, I’m afraid it didn’t hit quite the heights we would need it to for us to feel confident of doing this. I can see that Holly has a bright future ahead of her, so I have no doubt you will find the perfect home for her.
  3. I’ve been reading the manuscript and have really enjoyed it, I thought Claire’s character was well written and the suspense is cleverly built up. For me however, the paragraph breaks where we cut to see Annabelle’s POV didn’t feel as though they fitted in the story. I felt as though I was being pulled out of the book and I found that quite disorientating, especially when the paragraphs themselves weren’t that long. Overall I thought it was a really good read but because we already have some really big brand authors in this area, I have some reservations about surfacing Holly within the market and I worry that she would lose out on some slots her writing deserves. On this occasion I won’t be progressing with this but thank you again for sharing it with me and I wish you the best of luck finding the perfect home for her.
  4. I read this and enjoyed it – the setting is fab, and Clare’s gradual emergence from her agoraphobia is lovely – but ultimately I didn’t fall in love with the characters enough to want to offer on it. I’m sorry to disappoint, and I hope it finds a good home!
  5. I thought Holly’s writing was very assured and the sense of place was well done here but on the whole I found I struggled to connect as closely with Claire as our central character as I would have hoped and so never quite found myself as glued to the action as I would have needed to be in order to take this forward.
  6. I did enjoy it THE HIDDEN. It has some great twists and turns, and the characters were multi-dimensional and believable. But sadly I didn’t love it quite enough to take it forward, so I’ll pass.
  7. I have read THE HIDDEN by Holly Craig, as have a few of my colleagues, and we’ve had quite the discussion about it, actually. Ultimately the decision is not to make an offer, but it wasn’t a straightforward process. I really enjoyed sections of the novel and there were moments where I was in the flow and just loved Holly’s scene setting and observations. But overall I thought there were too many oddities to the plot that I couldn’t overcome. 

And there we have it. Some didn’t comment at all, so I’ve only included the ones who did.

Reading over these again, doesn’t make me feel sad. I’m so excited for book three and I’ve now realised, after talking to so many authors, that this is actually all a part of the industry! You’ll secure a deal with a publisher and then have to go back out on submissions when the contract ends and start all over. It’s a rollercoaster, but it’s what I want and if it’s what you want too, then do not give up. Just keep writing.

Thanks for stopping by,

Holly

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