Yes, I'm smiling. Partly because I took this ski lift selfie a couple of weeks ago while Miss O skied adult-free with a pack of teenager friends & cousins. But, more so because I received the best rejection letter ever.
As you know, I am writing a book. As much as I'd like to think it will be published anytime soon, it won't be. Writing a book is hard work. It's like a roller coaster of emotion and perseverance. Having a sabbatical to research and write is totally awesome. Not having a sabbatical to research and write and working full-time is messy. Very, very messy.
Since I don't have time to research and write at the moment, I sent my book proposal, which includes one sample chapter, to an assortment of agents and publishing companies of different sizes to obtain initial feedback. Most feedback I've received has been extremely short - like 2-3 sentences short - or the feedback has been so vague that it is unhelpful.
That all changed when I received the best rejection letter ever! I'm not kidding. This letter is frame worthy. I could kiss this literary agent for his honest, laser-focused feedback. He didn't just say, your book sucks. Instead, he asked curious questions about its content, styling, and examples. He pointed out places where he felt short-changed and wanted more. After reading his two-page, double-spaced letter (it was written in an email to me), I completely agreed with him! I thought his questions and areas of concern were dead on, which I hadn't considered before. Using his feedback will 100% grow my project. Since I'm calling the book, Grow: 8 Skills to Champion the Growth of Others, I am grateful for the best rejection letter of my lifetime. He grew me.
What's next? When mid-May rolls around and I have time to focus on writing again, I plan to do a few things with the feedback he provided:
- Edit. Oh, man, do I need to edit. I'm trying to include too many concepts within a chapter. Less is going to be more. I need to be pickier.
- Provide more examples and lessen the "what would you do?" questions. He pointed out that people are coming to my book for "how to" champion the growth of others not coaching questions about "what does this look like in your environment?" (though I certainly can have a few of those coachy questions in the activities section I plan to provide).
- Be the expert. Own it. In my current drafts, I tend to not voice what I think is the solution, but instead rely on proven experts to make the case. After 25 years of working with kids, teens and adults in amazing environments, it's time for me to speak up about what really has worked for me and connect those ideas to other experts and research when appropriate.
I'm certain there is even more I will glean from his rejection letter.
Being rejected has never felt so good.
PS - In case you are thinking, who celebrates rejection letters? Let me just say there have been a few rejections I've received lately that are not celebratory and I soon felt like a complete loser. However, the sun rises the next day and the world keeps turning. This quote keeps me company in the best way.