Up to 40 Rejections, and Counting


I’m officially baptized into the world of creative writing. I’ve been rejected by 40 literary agents … and the number keeps climbing.

Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it angering. Definitely. Am I giving up? HELL NO.

Why? Because I’m a writer, dammit. And writers get rejected over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. We’re the foot soldiers of the artistic world.

Of course I sometimes ask myself, “What the heck are you doing, Shari?” Then, however, I read articles such as this one, from Fast Company: “Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s reassuring life advice for struggling artists.


Did you know that Mad Men was rejected for seven years—seven freakin’ years—before AMC finally said yes? And before Mr. Weiner even had the success and connections to create Mad Men, he spent nearly his entire first decade of post-college life struggling as a no-name writer in Hollywood, getting told NO over and over and over and over and over and over again?

This man is a veteran, folks. Out of everything he said, I think this was the most important piece of advice:

“You can’t set a clock for yourself. If you do, you are not a writer.” –Matthew Weiner

May we all keep fighting along, and may we all realize that setting a clock is the ultimate defeat. Keep writing, my friends. Keep writing.

Hi! I’m Shari Lopatin. I’m a professional writer, editor, journalist, and social media strategist with a decade of experience in media and communications. I live in Phoenix, Ariz. and blog about finding a literary agent, writing tips, social media or tech trends, and sometimes current events. Oh yeah, I also edit novels for self-published authors or writers needing help before querying literary agents. Are we friends yet on Facebook and Twitter?


6 responses to “Up to 40 Rejections, and Counting”

  1. […] Up to 40 Rejections, and Counting […]

  2. Great words. As my late father, a WWII vet and POW used to say, “Keep on keeping on.”

    Buck Barry 901/489-9119


    1. “Keep on keeping on.” LOVE IT! Great advice from a man who I am sure was a great person and father. Thank you, Buck!

  3. Hi Shari. I’m fighting with the same right now. I’ve just started sending out my novel, and I haven’t reach the 40 rejections yet, but I feel like you. It’s frustrating and it gets you down, but if you really believe in yourself and in your story, you must always stand back up.

    What gets me down the most is never knowing what’s wrong. I’ve mosty got standard rejections – though I did get a couple personal ones – so I just know they rejected me, but not why. I don’t know whether it’s hopless, or if I missed only for a tiny bit. If there are objective problems with my story or if it was a matter of the agent’s likings. That’s the most frustrating part.

    But well. Let’s hold on 😉

    1. YES! I agree with you! Never knowing what’s wrong can be borderline infuriating after so many rejections. It drives me crazy, too. I’ve even started googling “AGENT’S NAME interview,” and often, some random blog interview will pop up with a Q&A from the agent. Sometimes, after doing that with several agents, I can start to get a feel for reasons. It might be the way my query letter is worded, or it might be that my genre is currently over-saturated in the market. Have you checked out Query Shark (queryshark.com, I believe)? VERY helpful for query letter writing. 🙂

      So yes, let’s keep holding on!

      1. I try to Google the agent before querying, first of all so to see whether she does deal with the kind of story I write and then to see whether there is any kind of connection between what I do and what she does.

        What scares em the most is that luck seems to have a big part in Landing an agent, and we have no control on luck.


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