April 15, 2015

Never Give Up--Part II

A couple of months ago, I blogged about my rejection from a prominent Mid-Western educational publisher.  Specifically, this publisher compiles writing passages for testing children's reading comprehension skills.  I proposed six articles, but a few weeks later, the rejection letter appeared in my inbox.  Not ready to give up, I requested examples of published passages in order to improve my chances of an acceptance.  Afterward, I proposed more articles—and another rejection letter came again.

This was getting frustrating!  What kind of articles did they want?

I read the rejection letter once more.  Despite turning down my ideas, the publisher said that my writing was strong and engaging.  She asked if I would consider doing some commissioning work.  I really hadn't planned on submitting again. Why open myself to a third rejection?  And then, I realized that was the wrong attitude. The publisher was interested in my work.

This time, the strategy was to improve my next group of submissions by creating a stronger hook for each article, by making sure that the topic idea was not too broad, and by providing intriguing details from cutting-edge research.  I submitted four proposals. And then...several days later, another email appeared.

It read, "After reviewing the proposals with our development team, we would be interested in a passage."  WOW.  But there was one more paragraph: "The approval of a topic idea does not guarantee payment.  Authors are not ensured payment until their passage has been officially accepted for use on assessments.  If a passage is considered unsuitable for testing, even after multiple revisions, it will not warrant payment, and the rights to the work will be returned to the author."

So, I could work on this passage with no guarantee that it would be accepted.  What to do, what to do? Because it seemed that I was getting closer to having my work approved, quitting now was not an option.  Even with a tight deadline, I carefully wrote the piece and edited it for grade level.  A week after the completed passage was sent, the director made editing suggestions:  rearrange the order of the paragraphs, simplify the scientific terminology, and make the writing snapper.  Okay, not a problem.

After completing the work, the passage was delivered.  And then I waited.  Even with the possibility of a rejection, I felt good knowing that the submission had been vastly improved.

And then shortly afterward, I got good news.  My passage had been accepted!  After weeks of researching and writing and after multiple rejections, I had reached this difficult goal.

Was it hard work?  Yep.  Would I do it again?  You bet.  As hard as it is to take, rejection is part of the writing life.  But so is perseverance.  If you want something bad enough, you know the drill—never give up.





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