Thursday, June 18, 2015

How I Handle Rejection

by Richard Torregrossa

The book industry is gasping for air. It’s practically on life support. Not good news for writers. It’s harder than ever to get published, but that doesn’t mean much, at least not ultimately. If you’re a writer, you write, and come what may. I’ve published eight books, all with major publishers, and not one of them was easy sailing; it was all uphill. My most recent book, TERMINAL LIFE: A Suited Hero Novel, a mystery crime thriller, racked up many rejections both from literary agents and editors.

But that’s a good thing. First of all, the fact that it was even read by top people in the industry is an accomplishment. More important, if you’re piling up rejection slips that means you’re still in the game, that you haven’t given up, that you’re not a quitter, and that’s a sign of character, that you believe in yourself regardless of what other professionals might think.

Still, rejection stings. I know that. But the best antidote for this is getting back to work. I have a saying above my desk: Process, Not Result. It’s been an enormous help to me because it keeps me focused on the work and not the frills. It reminds me to work harder to develop my craft, to read and re-read, to keep up with industry trends, and not become distracted by the ultimate goal—to become a rich and famous published writer. For me, writing is a joy and I will not let anything or anybody sour a disposition that I regard as a blessing. I write every day, even if I don’t feel like it, and eventually good results come my way. 

I also keep in mind that every writer has dealt with rejection. Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times, The Great Gatsby 122 times, John Grisham’s first novel 25 times, and on and on. Some of the rejection letters were quite nasty. Zane Gray, who went on to sell 250 million books, received this lovely response from a publisher, “You have no business being a writer and should give up.”

I have many writer friends who are far more talented than I’ll ever be, but they don’t publish much because they’re paralyzed by the fear of rejection. I’ve helped some of them by showing them my rejection letters paired with the published book, its impressive sales, and rave reviews, which is the greatest vindication. So you’ve got to bite the bullet and continue to disseminate your work. The business is subjective and it often takes a huge effort to find likeminded colleagues. 

I just finished my next novel, Where Have All The Good Girls Gone?, about a young man devastated by his wife’s infidelity, forcing him on a journey to regain his dignity, his place in the world,  and the redemptive power of love. My literary agent retired and I am searching for a new one. So far I’ve racked up a few rejection slips. And I couldn’t be more delighted. 

Richard Torregrossa is a journalist whose work has appeared in The Financial Times, Newsday, The New York Post, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle,The Huffington Post, Movieline, Self, Cosmopolitan, Yoga Journal Family Circle, Parents Magazine, The South China Morning Post, Las Vegas Magazine, Desert Living, The Ritz Carlton Magazine, The Modern Gentleman’s blog, and many other online media.  He is the author of eight books, the most recent the acclaimed biography Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style, Foreword by Giorgio Armani, Afterword by Michael Kors.  A first-degree black belt, he is an enthusiastic martial artist who teaches and continues to study a variety of forms, from Kenpo to Jeet Kune Do.  Richard’s expertise in the world of men’s fashion and in the world of martial arts shine in Terminal Life, the first in the Suited Hero series.

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1 comment:

Melissa Sugar said...

I enjoy reading post like this and I believe the writing world Karma fairy must know exactly when I need such a reminder. Your article came during one of my feeling down and sorry for myself slumps. Your encouraging words have picked me up and reminded me why I enjoy writing. I love reading success stories. They are always encouraging, but you peppered your success story with the perfect amount of realism to make a difference. Your post was inspirational and motivational and more than anything it was just the kick in the butt I needed right now. Thank you for sharing your success with us but also for sharing your struggles with us. Best of luck replacing your agent. Your next book sounds like something I would love. We don't get enough stories about recovering and moving forward after infidelity, told from a male POV. I look forward to reading it.