If Rejection Makes an Author Stronger, I am Becoming a Superhero

The inevitable has happened, but I don’t like it. I sent my Annie manuscript, a nonfiction picture book, to nine publishers who accept stories from unagented authors. One publisher sent me a form rejection, and the other eight have been silent. After six responseless weeks, I am not optimistic. The burning question is “what to do now?” My mentor (through SCBWI), and two critique groups encouraged me to submit my story after revising it countless times over the last year. The reaction by most who reviewed it was “I love it! It is a story that needs to get out there.” I guess the publishing world has other ideas.

My supportive colleagues has given me pep talks: “Keep going. Don’t get off the bus. Everyone gets rejections, even J.K. Rowling. It takes ten years to get published. Keep writing.” I appreciate all of the cheerleading. But…it is hard to know whether to give up on this story or keep submitting it.

I have decided to bring my manuscript to two SCBWI conferences, one in two weeks in Seattle and one in Los Angeles in August. I scheduled a review by a publishing professional at both meetings. My questions will be “should I scrap this whole thing??” I will grieve if I have to toss Annie into a grave, but it may need to be done. This is a brutal business.

Two other stories are in the pipeline. But Annie was my first, so she will always have a special place in my heart. I am trying to resist all of the voices in my brain tearing apart my talent. In the arts, it is a constant struggle to hold on to one’s self-esteem and will to go on. There is still a crack of light in the dark, quiet room.

patricia oppenheim