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Criticism Is an Unhappy Part of the Business

Let me tell you about a rather interesting day. I spent an entire morning going through my unsolicited proposals in-box. I marked them all for my assistant to send fairly standard email rejection letters, since none were anything our agency could/would handle.

Very soon I received three separate responses via email:

(1) Criticized me for sending an impersonal note, saying they spent considerable time with the proposal and the least I could do was give a corresponding critique. Never mind that the writer failed to follow the guidelines on the site he claimed to have read.

(2) Wrote me to say, “I consider it a disgrace that any American would ignore this story, particularly a man with access to our Christian media outlets who calls himself my ‘brother in the Lord.’ You must not be a prayer warrior, Mr. Laube, because if you were, He’d have guided you as He has me in this decision. Therefore, I wouldn’t want you handling this book.”

(3) Wrote a one word, very personal, extremely vulgar adjective in reply to my rejection letter.

All in one afternoon. So you see, even the agent side of the business receives its share of criticism that is ill-founded, ignorant, and inappropriate.

Next time a critic gives you a negative book review or an editor sends you a sixteen-page, single-spaced, scourging of your manuscript. remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Your response will determine much about your success as a writer. One of our clients claims that the one thing a writer needs to develop, in order to survive this profession, is a thick skin.

How do you respond to critics?

 

[A previous version of this post ran in early March 2011.]

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Even the Best Get Rejected

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I’ve written about rejection before and yet it is a topic that continues to fascinate.

Recently Adrienne Crezo did an article on famous authors and their worst rejection letters. I thought you might enjoy reading a couple highlights of that article and some additional stories I have collected over the years.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected by Alfred Knopf saying it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”
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