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Today I’m excited to have debut author Rori Shay here to share about persistence on the writing path. And she’s giving away a copy of ELECTED, her YA sci-fi story that released yesterday. Details of the giveaway will be at the end of the post.

So here’s Rori!

Perseverance from Potter

Any author who plans to get published will have to deal with rejection, at least once—by an agent, an editor, or maybe in book reviews. How does one persevere through rejection, especially if we’re supposed to be sensitive, artistic people? One author said she tries to be like a roasted marshmallow (soft and squishy on the inside with a crackly hard exterior).

Throughout my writing career, I’ve been fascinated by the myriad of successful authors who’ve received rejections. Part of me can’t help smiling as I picture the agents or editors who turned those authors down early in their careers. I bet they feel duly regretful now! But part of me knows it’s all just part of the process. Agents and editors can’t say yes to everything.

So over the years, I’ve collected a few choice perseverance stories that I like to keep in my back pocket for a rainy day.

Let me start with my own story. I started out querying, not knowing exactly how to do it and not even having a polished first draft. I got a lot of requests for the full manuscript, but it wasn’t until I’d queried 100 agents that I actually got an offer. A hundred! Whew! The agent who eventually offered me a contract and signed me with a publisher was number 82. Now my book, ELECTED, a young adult sci-fi thriller, is releasing with Silence in the Library Publishing.

There are others like me—much more famous—who have similar rejection stories. I thought I’d list just a few here to help inspire all of us and remind us to keep persevering, no matter what!

Beatrix Potter: She was…gasp…self-published! She was rejected by so many publishers, she decided to self-print 250 copies of Peter Rabbit just for her friends. It was sold in a few bookstores, and through word of mouth, it gained popularity. Only then was it picked up by a traditional publisher. In Beatrix Potter’s own words, here’s what she said about receiving rejections.

Tuesday, March 13th, 1900: “Another rejection today for my “Tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor’s Garden”. The publishers Frederick Warne and Co. seemed interested and I went today by appointment to meet Mr. Harold Warne. But he wants a bigger book, which I cannot do, and we had arguments. (It is odious to a shy person to be snubbed especially when the shy person happens to be right). If no one will accept the book as it is, I will get it printed myself.

Carl Sandburg, the poet, was so forlorn by all the rejections he received, that he vowed not to write
again. However, unbeknownst to him, his wife kept on submitting his poems…and finally they were accepted in one tiny magazine. And then the man went on to win MULTIPLE Pulitzers Prize for his writing! (Makes you think that maybe your significant other should be sending in your query submissions for you, doesn’t it?)

Jodi Picoult, best-selling author of over 18 books, didn’t get any attention for her first book. I met her at a talk she gave in Washington D.C. and asked her if she had any advice for new authors. That’s when she told me this story and said, “keep writing.” After her first novel didn’t get picked up, she put it down and wrote a second one. That book became a bestseller, and after she was duly famous, publishers wanted her first book too.

Thus, the moral of the story is… persevere! If you are passionate about writing and getting your novel
out to the public, keep going no matter what. Even if you have enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room, remember that it only takes one YES to make your dreams become reality.

Thanks for sharing your advice, Rori.

Rori Shay is an author living in the Washington, DC area with her husband, daughters, black lab, and cat - just not quite in the same exciting circumstances as ELECTEDs main character, Aloy. She enjoys running, gardening, reading, doing yoga, and volunteering with the Dwelling Place non-profit.  Rori is a member of the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Social Media: 

And here's links to purchase her book:

Kickstarter:  for printed copies, a free ebook, and a lot of special limited-edition items and other free books.  

Here’s a blurb of ELECTED from Goodreads:

It’s the year 2185, and in two weeks, Aloy will turn eighteen and take her father’s place as president of the country. But to do so, she must masquerade as a boy to avoid violating the Eco-Accords, four treaties designed to bring the world back from the brink of environmental extinction. Aloy hopes to govern like her father, but she is inheriting a different country. The long concealed Technology Faction is stepping out of the shadows, and as turmoil grows within her country, cryptic threats also arrive from beyond their borders.

As she struggles to lead, Aloy maintains her cover by marrying a woman, meanwhile battling feelings for the boy who knows her secret – the boy who is somehow connected to her country’s recent upheaval. When assassination attempts add to the turmoil, Aloy doesn’t know whom to trust. She understood leadership required sacrifice. She just didn’t realize the sacrifice might be her life.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

~Items seen in ELECTED such as a marriage binding (temporary tattoo)
~Hemlock soap
~Necklace as seen in ELECTED
~Signed paperback copy of ELECTED
~Optional FaceTime or Skype session with the author for 1/2 an hour (can be used one-on-one or at the winner's book club, etc.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Monday, I’m interviewing Dianne Salerni and giving away a copy of THE EIGHTH DAY, her new middle grade fantasy. This is a fantastic, well-plotted story that I couldn’t put down.

Next Wednesday I’ll have a guest post by Holly Webb and a giveaway of ROSE AND THE LOST PRINCESS, her MG fantasy.

Next Saturday I’ll be participating in the Amazing Book Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great choices for you.

The following Monday, I have an interview with friend, follower and now debut author Jessie Humphries and a giveaway of KILLING RUBY ROSE, her fantastic YA mystery/thriller.

And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Dianne K. Salerni said...

This is a great post! I had no idea that Beatrix Potter self-published Peter Rabbit, or that Carl Sandburg gave up, but his wife did not. So awesome!

"Silence in the Library" Publishing -- Is your publisher named after the Doctor Who episode, by any chance? :D Probably not, since it's a well-known phrase, but I did catch the science fiction connection ...

Stina said...

Great post! I always enjoy hearing the rejection stories of the greats, and thinking about how some agents and editors are now kicking themselves for letting the author slip through their fingers. :)

Kim Van Sickler said...

Important reminders on the power of perseverance, Rory! And congratulations on getting Elections published. I wish you much success with your fantastic-sounding book.

debi o'neille said...

Rory, you have a very inspiring story! Thanks for sharing.
Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

Donna K. Weaver said...

Love the advice about perseverance. Even being published we still need to remember that advice.

And want a complicated story! Congrats.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Rori! What great examples! I sometimes wonder what happens to editors/agents who turned down books that became bestsellers, although they certainly can't accept everyone and don't know what title will hit it big. And we must keep on writing, keep striving for our dreams.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks Rori for this wonderful and inspiring post. It has injected me with a healthy bout of enthusiasm (which had touched rock bottom) to query more agents and put rejection behind me. Perseverance is the key word here.

Beth said...

Love the story about Carl Sandburg … so inspiring!

DMS said...

What an excellent post! I love to keep stories about perseverence close at hand too. When I have had to face rejection I always feel better knowing I am not alone and that some of my favorite writers have gone through the same thing.

Congrats to Rori for continuing to follow her dream! :) Wishing her the best of luck.

Rori Shay said...

Wow, thank you guys for having me on the site today and for all of your comments! I'm so glad the stories of perseverance spoke to you and could inspire! And definitely let me know what you think of ELECTED! @RoriShayWrites -Rori Shay

Brenda said...

What an interesting and informative post, thank you and congratulations on your book.

Jocelyn Rish said...

Congrats to Rori! And I had no idea about Beatrix Potter. I wrote a Peter Rabbit mystery satire for a 48 hour short story contest a few months ago, so hearing how Ms. Potter persevered is definitely a great kick in the pants.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Bummer, I should've had my wife sending out submissions!
Congratulations, Rori.

Kelly Polark said...

Perseverance! Love all the stories!
Congrats on Elected!
And a hug to Natalie just because.

Lucy R said...

Thanks for the enthusiasm and great words! Sometimes thinking of my 81 passed submissions/queries is sad, but hopefully it is just closer to an acceptance! : ) Congratulations on your book--sounds great!
Kids Math Teacher

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Congratulations Rori! What a great story about perseverance! I had no idea that Beatrice Potter self published. Thanks for sharing and best wishes with your book.

nutschell said...

What an inspiring post! Perseverance does pay. And actually, when it comes to writing, it's the only way to go. :)


Crystal Collier said...

Awesome. It's all about hanging in there, eh? You have to press forward even when the world says, "no."

cleemckenzie said...

This was great. And I learned something. Beatrix Potter was self-published. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

I love hearing success stories. We must keep trying and submitting.

Congrats to Rori.

bfav said...

Thank you for your pub story. I needed it today.

Manju Howard said...

Rori, Congrats on Elected! Great job pressing on.

Rori Shay said...

Thanks, Cherie! Yep, keep on keepin' on!

Rori Shay said...

Yup, SitL Publishing is named for that very thing!

Rori Shay said...

Thanks, Debi!

Rori Shay said...

I'm so glad it inspired you, Rachna!

Rori Shay said...

You're welcome! We all need to hear it from time to time!

Rori Shay said...

Thanks, Manju! It was hard to keep going, but worth it in the end!

Rori Shay said...

Thanks, Medeia!

Rori Shay said...

Thanks, Kim! If you do read it, I'd love to hear what you think via a review on Amazon! That helps the ratings on Amazon a lot!

Rori Shay said...

Thank you, Jess! The best to you as well!

Rori Shay said...

So timely that you wrote a PR satire a few months ago and then read this!

Rori Shay said...

Thanks, Lucy! My good luck was at number 82, so maybe yours will be too!

Leslie S. Rose said...

Great to get to know you, Rori. Loved the rejection stories. I hope you play #82 in the lottery. Congrats on your book. That is one fantastic cover.

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us Rori. And congratulations on your book!

Rori Shay said...

Thank you Heather! And what a good idea, Leslie!

pandas4vic said...

Inspiring story, Rori! Thanks so much for sharing! Congrats to you on your success!