For one thing—it took me a long time to see my first novel published (I’m now looking forward to my third book coming out in September.) Although my manuscript did very well making the final round in several contests, I was slow to send it out to agents and publishers. It took me awhile to develop a thick skin. When I tweaked the beginning, it suddenly became a finalist in the Golden Heart Competition. From there, it caught the eye of Jenny Hutton at Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
I kept the hope to see my story in print alive by a few concepts I’ll share with you here.
1. I took heart in the rejection letters of famous authors. If they could keep sending out their “baby”, then I could.
THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT was turned down so many times, Beatrix Potter initially self-published it.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don't know how to use the English language." Editor of the San Francisco Examiner to Rudyard Kipling.
Tony Hillerman’s agent told him, ‘Get rid of the Indian stuff’
Mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark recently received a $60 plus million dollar advance on her next five books, but this is what happened when she was sending out her manuscript "Journey Back to Love" in the early 1960s: "We found the heroine as boring as her husband did."
To writer Samuel Johnson (though I don't know which book the editor was referring to): "Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good."
2. I took heart in how they persevered. If they could, then I could. Here are the number of times they were rejected before selling...
Dr. Seuss – 27
Luis L'Amour – 349
JK Rowling –
Harry Potter 12
John Grisham – 26 J
Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen -- Chicken Soup for the Soul 140
Frank Herbert—Dune 23
Stephen King – Carrie 30
Meg Cabot— The Princess Diaries 17
Richard Adams – Watership Down 26
Margaret Mitchell— Gone with the Wind 38
3. I gathered inspirational quotes and read them daily to internalize them.
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” – Henry Ford
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your dreams. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great.”- Mark Twain
“I dwell in possibility.”- Emily Dickenson
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”-Eleanor Roosevelt
"Don’t give up, don’t lose hope, don’t sell out." Christopher Reeve
“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.” Don Delillo
“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gift.” Steve Prefountaine
“I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.” –Maya Angelou
During this time I continued to study the craft of writing, continued to write, and continued to hope. And then one morning, I received the call I’d been waiting for.
For those of you that are going through, or have gone through the same thing, what do you do to keep steady on your course toward your goals--whether they are writing or something else you hope for?