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When No is Not the Answer

In the business of publishing we hear no a lot. We hear it from agents, editors, reviewers, authors we’re seeking blurbs from, and people we request guest blogs from. As the receiver of these nos or rejections you have a choice in how you handle them. You can take this no as a no means no and move on or, you could take it as a not right now and try that same person again later.

Sure no means no, except when it means not right now and in business I’m inclined to believe that no really means not right now. That submission you just sent me wasn’t for me right now, but maybe try your next book, or even the next one after that. A bucketful (more than a handful) of my own clients are with me today because they took the not right now approach. A handful of them are published because I took the not right now approach. In all of these situations we knew that when we were rejected that first, third or fifth book just hadn’t wowed the agent or editor quite enough yet. Instead of feeling defeated, all of us took the challenge. The authors wrote another book and I made another submission list. We kept plugging away until we had just the right project. The one that finally got us to yes.

Authors and agents who decide that no means no have a really difficult time getting to yes. By writing off one agent or one publisher you start to very quickly diminish your pool of possibilities. By trying again, maybe when the agent has shifted her list or is looking for other things, or your own writing style better aligns with what she’s looking for, you keep all possibilities open and can keep moving forward until you finally get to yes.

Category: Blog



  1. And I thought I was stalker material for always thinking, “There’s always next time”:) I for one would never give up on the agents and publishers that I know I’d love to work with. I’m planning on a long, prolific career, so I’ll most probably always have something new in the pipeline. This post is really uplifting, thank you for writing it

  2. Love this post and especially love this Dr Seuss-ish line:
    Sure no means no, except when it means not right now and in business I’m inclined to believe that no really means not right now.

    I need to pin this above my computer!

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