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How to deal with rejection letters

Behind every published author is someone who’s had to deal with rejection. But how do you get over it? Guest blogger novelist Emma Bowd shares her experiences of dealing with the dreaded ‘no thank you’ letters.

As a published author, I can have the luxury of saying that rejection letters are an absolute rite-of-passage. But I’m also not so far away from the coal face to have quite forgotten the sting of disappointment and the emotion of unfulfilled dreams.

My editor, Marian McCarthy, was an enormous pillar of strength throughout the whole process of writing and submitting The Shoe Princess’s Guide to the Galaxy for publication. She is extremely wise and experienced in the publishing world, and had always coached me for the rejection letters from day one. 

She used to tell me that being a writer is like being a farmer – you work for many years on a product (without income) and then, when it’s time to go to market, you literally do not know if there is going to be a glut of your product or no demand at all.

She also wisely said that the book would “end up where it’s meant to be” – and painful as it was, I completely agree with this. It is so wonderful to be with a publisher that completely ‘gets’ my work and is so very supportive of me. 

So the message is, keep going and believe in your work. Always revisit your manuscript after a rejection letter and take what positive feedback you can from it and tweak accordingly. A manuscript is an evolving entity. And you are the only person in charge of its destiny.

Emma Bowd was born in 1968 in Australia. She is the author of A Passion for Shoes and A Passion for Handbags, both of which have been international bestsellers and translated into several languages. She is regularly called upon to talk about shoes, and has had a guest spot on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour. The Shoe Princess's Guide to the Galaxy is her first novel. Emma lives in Melbourne with her husband and two young children. She does not believe that you can ever have too many pairs of shoes.

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