The Writers Road to Rejection

Several years ago I wrote a mystery novel and began to actively pursue publication through traditional publishers. I mailed several dozen query letters including self-addressed stamped envelopes. Some were returned with form-letter rejection notes, some actually with three to six handwritten words as to why they weren’t interested. The remainder just ignored my query and apparently steamed off my stamp to be used again in their private correspondence.

As time progressed, it became preferable to send query letters through e-mail. Publishing houses could now save time not having to open envelopes, steam off stamps or lick envelopes to send back rejection slips. My record e-mail auto-rejection was something like fourteen minutes after submission.

Eventually, I was thrilled to find a couple of small presses who asked to read the entire manuscript. One editor suggested I take out all the exclamation points and fragmented sentences. Another suggested I have it professionally edited. Another told me it had too much romance, another, not enough romance. Yet another told me it was not a COZY mystery, but a Fantasy-Paranormal-Romance-Adventure. What? None followed up with a proposal to print Black Cat’s Legacy (a cozy mystery where the cat knows where the bodies are buried and tries to share this information with the protagonist.)

As I traveled this Road to Rejection, I studied with three teachers and learned more about the craft of writing than I ever thought there was to learn. Surprise! You don’t know what you don’t know. Which is to say, the early versions of Black Cat’s Legacy probably weren’t worthy of print in the first place. All those rejections forced me to re-examine my craft, put in the time, investment and energy to improve my writing skills.

Black Cat’s Legacy was revised, edited, re-edited, the story line cut in half, characters and plot fleshed out. Along the way, the cat, a minor character in the beginning took on a life of his own and became a POV character, adding his charm, wit and wisdom to the story.

Looking back, I believe The Road to Rejection is not necessarily a pothole-riddled, mud-filled, weed-infested sticker-path meant to trip up and discourage a new writer, (though it certainly does that) but rather a road of lesson-learning, character- building, knowledge-testing meant to wean out the weak, sharpen the skills of the resolved and define the mettle of the determined willing to learn.

Whether you choose traditional or self-pubbing, don’t rush to publish until you’re sure you’ve traveled the Road to Rejection far enough, learned enough, and made the right decisions. Now your baby is in print. Now you have to learn about Marketing. That’s another road. It’s called The Road to Frustration.

Elaine Faber authors a mystery, Black Cat’s Legacy, set at a Northern California resort. With the aid of his ancestor’s memories, Thumper, the resident lodge cat, “knows where the bodies are buried.” He must help Kimberlee solve her father’s cold case murder. But someone at the lodge will stop at nothing to keep the secret.

Elaine has published multiple short stories in magazines and anthologies. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Cat Writer’s Association and Inspire Christian Writers.

Black Cat’s Legacy is Elaine’s first publication, with the sequel coming out this fall. A portion of proceeds from her novels are donated to promote animal health and rescue.Black Cat’s Legacy is a “COZY” mystery, without explicit sex, extreme violence or profanity.

You can purchase a copy of Black Cat’s Legacy at