My First Rejection Letter

by Jenn (eating bender) on December 20, 2011

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it…Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” ~ Mark Jenkins


It was bound to happen sooner rather than later.

Thank you so much for your interest in XYZ Agency!  We feel sure that your work has merit and potential, but unfortunately we don’t see a fit for any of our projects at this time.
All the best of luck with your writing future,
The XYZ Staff

I changed the name of the agency, of course, but unfortunately can’t change the rest of the letter into one of glowing approval, asking me how soon I can schedule a meeting – just name the time and place.

Nope. It was a rejection. And you know what? When I got the email, I smiled.

I smiled because this was my first rejection letter of what I’m sure will be many.

I smiled because no great writer has ever skipped through the publication process without rejection.

I smiled because although I tried and failed, I still tried.

I didn’t submit my full manuscript. This particular query was to a book packaging agency. Essentially, a book packaging agency already has book ideas, but is looking for writers to bring those ideas to life. They work with a chosen author to write, research and edit the work. Once it’s up to their satisfaction, they act as agents, submitting to book publishers until (fingers crossed) a deal is reached.

I submitted a 3,000-word sample of my best writing, along with a bio and resume, hoping to explore what would happen if I was chosen as one of those potential writers. If I would have been a fit for one of their upcoming projects, I would have gotten the nod.

I didn’t get the nod. But again, I was smiling.

I was smiling because I have no idea why I was not the right fit, so what’s the use in worrying about it?

I was smiling because friends and family have read my work, and don’t think I’m crazy for continuing.

I was smiling because I need to finish the entire first draft of my current novel, gosh darnit!

I’m 55,000 words in. Thanks to a busy holiday season and, more accurately, a bad case of writer’s block, I took a brief hiatus from my work in November. I’m happy to say I dove back in late last week, and have a lofty goal of completing the first draft by the end of January. This rejection, more than anything, has served as motivation to achieve this feat.

Though I am not moving forward with this particular agency, I am grateful that they inspired me to submit. I’ve gained experience in putting together a pitch letter, bio, resume and writing sample, invaluable practice that I can carry forward into my next query.

Even if these materials didn’t lead to success this time around, I firmly believe that someday, they will.

And when that day comes, you can bet I’ll still be smiling. :)


1 brandi December 20, 2011 at 10:08 am

book packaging? i have never heard of this.

but, even though it sounds weird, congrats on your first rejection :) it means that you’re going for it!!

ps: i’m reading and LOVING it!!

2 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 10:13 am

I hadn’t either, actually, until I came across an article about this agency! The best I can compare it to is Alloy Entertainment, the company behind series such as Gossip Girl, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, etc.:

But thank you. And more importantly…yay!!!!! :)

3 Megan (Braise The Roof) December 20, 2011 at 10:12 am

You have a great outlook on this process! As an actor, I totally understand the feeling of “well, I tried, and I’ll get the next one!”. I was always told in school that in order to have the desire to pursue acting you have to be at least a little bit crazy- I think it’s the same for writing! Congrats on putting yourself out there and making great progress on your novel, and I’ll cross my fingers for you for the next one!

4 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

Thank you, Megan! I think actors and writers definitely have to have that same “onward and upward” mentality – and definitely a little bit crazy. 😉 I know that’s certainly true for me! I appreciate the support!

5 Nicole Navratil December 20, 2011 at 10:17 am

Thank you so much for writing this, Jenn. It was exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I didn’t get a rejection letter, but I did have the experience of a mysterious disappearing email, which meant I missed a deadline. I’d been wallowing in self-pity for the past 10 minutes when I saw your post on Twitter.

I am bookmarking this for when I get rejected. :)

Oh, and I want to write a novel too, so thanks for the inspiration.

Happy Holidays!

6 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 10:24 am

I’m sorry to hear about the disappearing email. It truly makes me happy, though, that this post could help make you feel better. Also, I love hearing that you want to write a novel, too! I’m a firm supporter/ear lender of anyone who is on this path, so never hesitate to reach out – I would love to be email buddies.

Happy holidays to you, too, Nicole! :)

7 Cara (Twinthusiast) December 20, 2011 at 10:22 am

Onward, writing soldier! My old boss Jill always said “The gods favor the persistent.” 😉

8 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 10:27 am

Haha – I love the quote, and the “writing soldier” designation. :) Thanks, my literary connoisseur!

9 yolie @ practising wellness December 20, 2011 at 10:34 am

You are so inspiring, and I am so happy for you, for having that clarity and confidence and certainty and passion. :-) Absolutely, you would have learned so much from the process of applying. And 55,000 words into your manuscript? That’s incredible! :-) It’s wonderful to read about your journey, and I am so glad to have found your blog! <3 xyx

10 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 10:40 am

You’ve made my day! I’m so glad you found me, and am so appreciative of your kind words and support. Looking forward to checking out your blog, as well. Thanks again, Yolie! :)

11 yolie @ practising wellness December 20, 2011 at 10:45 am

Yay! :-) You’re so welcome, I meant every word! <3 Hahaha – if you check out my blog today, I'm sorry for the medical revelation, I don't normally discuss such things, this was an exception, lol! 😛 Anyways, take care, and be well! <3 xyx

12 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

Oh goodness – no worries! I loved the revelation (very helpful information!) and as you’ll find on my blog, I’m nothing if not candid, as well. :)

13 yolie @ practising wellness December 20, 2011 at 10:55 am

Phew, lol! 😉 <3 xyx

14 glidingcalm December 20, 2011 at 10:37 am

go girl go!!! Keep believing in yourself, because I BELIEVE IN YOU. I’m sure the finished product will be amazing….and everything happens for a reason!! Hey, J.K. Rowling was rejected TONS of times before finally a publishing company decided to take a risk with Harry Potter! Hilarious.

love you, and always supporting you!

15 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 10:42 am

Aw, GC, you’re amazing! Your support and pep talk are just what I need. I’ll be saving this comment for rainy days. 😉 And yes, you better believe I knew that about J.K. Rowling, haha! All it takes is one person who believes in you and your story. I’m so incredibly fortunate to have people like you already cheering me on. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

16 Rose December 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Girl, you know I feel your pain. I’ve been rejected so many times that an acceptance doesn’t even look real to me when it does happen. This is the plight of writers. Those who succeed are the ones that keep getting rejected :)

Can I read your book?

17 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm

So true, Rose! I’ve always loved how much we can relate on these topics – and completely agree that those who succeed are the ones that persist even when they keep getting told “no.”

As to your second point, I am emailing you now. :)

18 natalie (the sweets life) December 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

i love your attitude and enthusiasm–you’re awesome and i have NO DOUBT you will get published!

19 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm

You are awesome AND very sweet. Thank you so much for the support, Natalie. It means a lot to me! :)

20 Erica December 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm

You make me smile because you have SUCH a great outlook. Love ;). They can’t all be winners and see how fabulous you are, now can they? I have no idea how writers do it!

21 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm

You made ME smile with this comment! :) Thank you so much, Erica. I have no idea sometimes, either. I think it goes back to Megan’s comment above…writers are just a wee bit crazy. Haha!

22 Angela Ten Clay (@AngelaTenClay) December 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm

So proud of you, Jenn! Your attitude is one to be admired. We can all learn from our rejections and picking up and going forward is the best way to do it. Their loss, I am POSITIVE your writing is phenomenal! When your book publishes, I want a signed copy. Keep your spirits girl! xoxo

23 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Thank you, Angela! You always know how to lift my spirits. I appreciate the support and sweet words…can’t wait to someday (yes, someday) give you a copy of my book! That’s a promise! :)

24 Angela Ten Clay December 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

And I can’t wait to get it and read it! You are a rock star, Jenn. We all believe in you!

25 Irina G (Fit Flexitarian) December 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I love Alloy Entertainment and have always thought about submitting a query to a book packaging agency. I’ve worked on/off on a novel for a while, but have kind of dropped it in the last year to focus on my blog, freelance writing and studying nutrition (besides, you know, trying to keep up a social life and working full time). I still kind of miss fiction writing, though. I’m glad you learned some and are not giving up! Finishing that first draft is going to be SUCH an accomplishment. I hope you celebrate and take at least a couple weeks off as a mental break/thank you to yourself. Good luck!!!

26 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 9:44 pm

So awesome to hear you’ve worked on a novel of your own! I know how it goes trying to balance everything, and find that there are definitely days were blog writing and, of course, the full-time job, make everything else take a back burner. I’ve also found that I’ve given up a bit of my social life. 😉 But you’re right, finishing the draft will make it all worth it! Thanks, Irina!

27 Kinsey Michaels December 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I definitely needed to hear that quote today Jenn, as I actually got rejected myself, for a job I had been pining for, and was almost sure I had gotten. I love that you’re continuing to plow ahead though, I’m really excited for you! Even the most successful authors today faced rejection. Just don’t give up, whatever you do!!!

28 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I’m so sorry to hear that, Kinsey, as it is something that has happened to me before and I know how it feels. I’m glad that you could relate to the quote as much as I could — and love your advice to never give up. You know I will definitely be taking that to heart! :) Thinking of you and hope all else is well. We need to catch up fully soon!

29 Erin December 20, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I’m going to raise hell at XYZ Jenn

30 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I heart you so very much. <3

31 Melissa @TryingtoHeal December 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Ah, rejections suck but we all know we gotta start somewhere!!! Which reminds me..when do I get to read your script?! No rush…just making sure you didn’t forget.

Anyhow, I’m proud of your attitude towards this letter and glad that it’s encouraging you to keep going! So proud of you for taking that first step!!!

32 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Thanks, lady! Emailed you. :)

33 BroccoliHut December 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Some of the greatest thinkers have faced multiple rejections–James Joyce, Thomas Edison…so keep on smiling! You’ll find success, I’m sure :)

34 Jenn (eating bender) December 20, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Thanks, Caroline! I definitely rely on those stories to keep me motivated

35 Monica December 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

Congrats on being one rejection letter closer to your first book deal :) And for being 55,000 words closer as well!

36 Jenn (eating bender) December 22, 2011 at 9:15 am

I couldn’t have put it better myself. :) Thank you for that, Monica!

37 Kimberly Rae Miller December 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I’ve heard that a lot of agencies are turning into full-service management and packaging firms. It seems to be the trend of the future in publishing. In the end all it takes is for one agent to say yes. My boyfriend and I are both writers, while he’s currently shopping a children’s book, I just sent my memoir proposal to my agent. At the end of the day we cuddle up and tell one another the day’s war stories. You’re right, it’s impossible to get through this process without a few scrapes and bruises, but in the end you’ll find the place you fit. Finding the right agent is a lot like dating, it takes a little while to find the right fit, but n the end you will find the place that will give you and your book the care and dedication you/it deserve. Keep your head up and good luck!

38 Jenn (eating bender) December 22, 2011 at 9:18 am

I loved reading about you and your boyfriend – sharing war stories is awesome, and must be so helpful at the end of the day! Thanks so much for the encouraging words, Kim. I agree – it’s all about finding the right place/person to support your work, which can (most) often take longer than expected. But I know it will all be worth it once that day comes. Wishing you the best of luck with your memoir, too. I look forward to reading it someday! :)

39 Shannon December 21, 2011 at 6:15 pm

what an interesting concept, the packaging firm! congrats on putting yourself out there :) you’ll find the right fit soon enough!!

40 Jenn (eating bender) December 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

It’s definitely interesting – I’m glad that I can at least say I know about it now! Thank you, Shannon! :)

41 Alex Pler June 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I didn’t smile when I got my first rejection letter, past week. But you made me smile with your self-confidence. I hope you made it.

Thank you for inspiring me :)
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