Heloïse Burland

I think it's after your first rejection that you realise your worth as a writer.

When I sent off my first submission for my first book, I didn't think to send more off straight away. I said, “I'm only going to send one off so I can get my first rejection letter and make it all feel real to me, then I'll send out a whole lot.” But there was still a part of me who naïvely thought that maybe all I would have to do was send out that one submission. Wrong, of course.

After I had received my first rejection, I reassured my close ones who wondered whether I was up to the rejection, smiling as I said, “I know I'll probably get fifty-odd rejections before I get accepted.”

But it doesn't change the fact that when you get that first rejection letter – then the second, then the third... - something inside of you contorts itself in the most uncomfortable way. You knew you would get rejected; you had been warned.

But this was my first finished novel, and my sense of achievement was fading. “Are my characters not interesting? Don't they live exciting enough lives? Am I stupid for having enjoyed writing about it all so much?”

A rejection letter can be formatted or it can be thoughtful, but in the end – for me, anyway:

I just see it as rejection; you get one rejection, then you just move onto the next.

There were a couple who had put the odd word in like “Many thanks for letting us see it,” which when you first read it makes you feel special, but then you think, “Well why didn't you want it then?”

Even though I had expected realistically to get a whole lot of rejections before getting anywhere, I still thought that maybe the first person would accept it. Why? Stupid, right? Well, not really. If you feel your book is ready to be published, then you feel it is good enough for someone to want to read it, which is after all what a publisher wants. So why shouldn't the first person accept it?

But then I got a rejection that made me think twice about what I was doing: in it the agent suggested buying the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, something which I already owned because it contained a list of all the different publishing agencies. But then I read “it gives advice on getting published.” So this then made me think...

My biggest mistake was thinking that when submitting, the idea of your book is enough to get it accepted.

Wrong. This is, after all, a business. You need to know what to say to get the agent/publisher's attention and how to say it. Ignorance and your passion for your book won't get it published – it might get it sold in the future, but not published. You need to be professional about it.

So now I know – as I am about to set off on a new round to get my latest book published – how exactly I am meant to go about doing it. I need to make my submission count in a ocean full of submissions.

The key I guess is perseverance.

For me it's the fear that I may end up being forced to do something else with my life.

But I don't want to. Writing is who I am and I will persevere until I can make it my life.

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