Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Don't Give Up!

We’ve all heard it before.

“Dear Hannah,
Thank you for your query, but we will have to pass on your project. “


“Dear Ms. Lokos,
Thank you for considering [So and So] publishing. Your story sounds interesting but we feel that it wouldn't be a good fit for our publishing audience.”

Or even:

“Thank you for submitting to [Such and Such]. We have reviewed your piece and unfortunately we are unable to use your work… Please submit again in the future.”

We all know the feeling.  We spend weeks or months—years, even—polishing our pieces to perfection.  We agonize over where to submit before finally sending them off.  And then we wait. 

And we wait

And we wait some more.  

And then, finally, the letter comes. And we stand there and we hold it—and our breath—and we pray really, really hard.  Then, we rip it open.  Our eyes devour the words.  And we find we’ve been rejected.  Again. 

More often than any of us would like, being a writer means being rejected.  Just a couple months ago, I was engaged in the publishing battle.  I had submitted to over thirty publishers, and I had been rejected over thirty times. 

One day, after one particularly discouraging letter, I asked my mom if she thought the rejection letters would ever stop coming.  She thought a moment, and chuckled, and said, “When you stop submitting, you won’t be rejected anymore.”

While this was true, it wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear.  I wanted to be published; I had wanted to be a writer since I was five years old. So, my parents encouraged me to hang in there and wait for the day when the rejection letters ceased. 

Then, on March 27, 2013, I got my first letter of acceptance.  It was from Champagne Book Group; they wanted to publish my novel, tentatively titled “Labyrinth of Lies.”  It's a smallish novel of historical fiction with a bit of romance and conspiracy theory thrown in for flavor--nothing huge.  Still, I won’t ever forget that moment.  I started to read the email, holding my breath as I anticipated the “Thank you, but’s” all over again.  But this time, they didn’t come.  This time, it was a contract offer.  I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I literally ran out of the college library in which I had been studying and called my mom to let her know that I wasn’t rejected anymore. 

Rejection is discouraging, and sometimes, it can be tempting to just stop submitting. True, if we don’t submit, we won’t be rejected anymore, but we won’t ever be accepted either.  Getting published can be a heck of a fight, but it is a good fight, and it will be worth it.  There is hope.  I was nearing the verge of despair, but now my book is slotted for release December 2, 2013. So take heart.  The rejection rate may be high, and there is a veritable ocean of failed attempts.  Yet, we cannot forget that there are success stories also.  We cannot forget why we write.  We write because we love it, because we love the way it feels as words form in our minds, fill our hearts till bursting, then course through our veins, spill out our fingers, and splatter all over the page.  We love it, and therefore, we cannot stop.  So we will brace ourselves and face the rejection letters, and know that one day they will end. 

Hannah Lokos was an unusual child.  She has been writing since she was five.  At fourteen, she wrote her first novel.  At seventeen, she interned as a ghost writer.  At eighteen, she won Scholastic’s Art and Writing Award.  She has recently received her very first book contract.  
Follow her on Twitter,, or like her on Facebook,  Her official website is still under works, but feel free to shoot her an email at  Seriously, she would love to hear from you.


Big Mike said...

Welcome aboard Hanna

Yeah, took me 120 rejection letters before I got the first contract, then in the say week got 3 offers. Weird, and I was within 2 months of the 2 year date I set before I quit.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Liz Fountain said...

Food for thought as I get ready to attend a(nother) writers' conference and prepare a(nother) pitch. They always say "write what you love" and then proceed to immerse you in workshops about how to write what will "sell." And in the month since my first book was published, I've stopped looking at any sales tracking. I figure it's found at least one reader, and that's the important thing. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake. (As I go back to my paid/day job work... :-))