Rejection reschmection

Here is a list of some famous/prolific authors and the number of times their work was rejected before finding a publisher.

It’s an interesting lesson that is very easy to forget: doing things that a lot of people like is not easy, and if you’re plying your trade in many corners of the media/arts, that is almost certainly what you are aiming to do.

My own experience is not dissimilar. I sent Instinct off to 14 agents, receiving a rejection from each one (to be fair to them and me, I may have sent it to some who were not appropriate for commercial fiction). I then resolved to cast my net a little wider, finally finding my excellent agent after a total of 28 rejections.

He then sent my book off to six publishers – all the big boys – and one, Penguin, offered to take it on for an advance of £20,000 (in case you’re interested, I have been informed that 20 grand is pretty good in this day and age. However, you should be aware that you get half on signing, a quarter on delivery of the finished manuscript and the final quarter on publication, which makes a big chunk of it not very advanced at all. There was also around 18 months between signing and publication, so I’m glad I had a day job). My agent said that we could have attempted to use the offer to bargain amongst the others, but that sounded a bit mucky to me, and besides, a bird in the hand and all that.

So I guess I suffered around 35 rejections of various sorts, but none of them really fazed me. You see, I’ve spent many years working in an industry that routinely rejects 98% of what I come up with, so a ratio of 1:35 was actually better than my usually strike rate (and yours, if you’re an advertising creative).

It may take a ridiculous degree of self confidence, or it may take a realistic acceptance of the status quo, but whichever it is, if you want to make an ad/movie/book, or anything else that is intended for thousands of people, then it’s going to take perseverance.

Or dedication:

(Wasn’t Roy Castle lovely?)