Dear Aspiring Author: turn that rejection into a contract offer

I started The Builder’s Reluctant Bride’s manuscript (then titled First Love) on my daughter’s first day of school back in Sept, 2008.

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Doesn’t she look cute?

It took one year to write and edit the manuscript and it was promptly rejected for publication from several publishers by Nov 2009. The most notable rejection was from White Rose Publishers. Here’s what they wrote:

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Why is their rejection significant?

When an editor takes the time to make specific comments about your manuscript, be teachable. Editors are bombarded with submissions and many send a “form letter” rejection. (I have stacks of those too.) I could have been offended at the editor’s advice to keep studying the craft of writing. I could have self-published when a self-publisher called and offered me a deal. I could have been cocky and wrongly believed I had nothing left to learn. Had I done that, I would have missed out on the beautiful world of friendships within the writing community.

Apply the advice!

As sad as that rejection made me feel, I did as she suggested and signed up for writing classes where I met wonderful people who share my passion. I read LOADS of books about the craft of writing. I found a writing mentor (shout out to fantastic writer friend: Sandra Orchard), and I found a writing community where I learned that I had a LOT to learn about writing for the glory of God. I set aside the manuscript to study. I worked on smaller projects, freelanced for magazines, landed a job as a reporter, and eventually found myself looking at that first story again. Could I apply all that I had learned and make this publishable?

Hold loosely and let the story change as needed.

It was a lot of hard work to rewrite that manuscript. The story changed so much that I eventually changed the characters names to reflect their new identities. Sarah became Jenna, Dan became William, and First Love became The Builder’s Reluctant Bride.

Interestingly, White Rose is the imprint under Pelican Book Group that just released The Builder’s Reluctant Bride this month. My very first rejection is also my very first publisher.

Sometimes life is funny that way…

Be teachable

My advice to you is the same advice graciously given to me by that kind editor many years ago (who funnily enough was the same person to request the full manuscript of First Love the second time around). Study the craft, be teachable to instruction from those more experienced, and write on!

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Dedication page inside The Builder’s Reluctant Bride

All for His glory,

Stacey

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