We’ve all been there. You’ve printed a copy of your manuscript, added in a cover letter and stamped, self-addressed reply envelope, then you’ve posted it off (along with all of your hopes and dreams) to a publisher who is currently open for submissions.
You’ve waited (and sometimes waited and waited and waited) and then you open your mailbox to find a familiar envelope addressed in your own handwriting. It’s the first three chapters (or every single chapter) of your manuscript being returned to you, along with a letter.
A letter of rejection.
(Insert some kind of noise here that they’d play on gameshows when a contestant answers a question wrong.)
Now, I’ve had my share of such letters and they’re just awful. They make you want to stop writing, shout, cry, drink and, at the very least, they make you want to rip up the letter into teeny tiny pieces and throw it into the bin immediately (Then set the bin alight and perhaps kick it for good measure!)
And I used to do the same. But then, one day, I decided that I should start keeping my rejection letters. Admittedly, the reason I decided to keep them because one day, my manuscript would be bought and I’d be massively successful and someone from the newspaper would ask me how many times my book had been turned down before it had been sold and I’d be able to say a figure with accuracy (and I’d know the names of the publishing houses who were now kicking themselves, naturally.)
So I started keeping them and there has been an unexpected positive about being able to look back on them, after the initial sting has worn off. And that positive is that they actually contain positive things about my manuscript and my writing in general. Things like:
Right, so I can see that you’re a talented writer and I would really like to read further work from you – I just can’t get behind this particular story 100% I’m afraid.
It’s a complete pleasure, I think that your writing style is fantastic, really pacy and engaging – I’m loving it so far. Whatever happens with this one you must keep writing you are clearly a natural.
While I like your writing, Sally, and I enjoyed reading this funny adventure story, unfortunately I don’t have a place for it on the <Insert Publisher’s name here> children’s list.
So, as a self-publisher, I’m really pleased that I’ve kept my rejection letters. They’re evidence of the journey that I’ve been on so far (the good and the bad) and they’ve also given me the confidence to put myself behind my writing and go ahead with self-publishing.
What’s your opinion? Do you keep your rejection letters? And do you believe people should?