Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Hope & My REAL Rejection Letters

On Wednesday, I posted on my own blog about the mountain of rejection letters I received while trying to find an agent for Nightshade City. I've reposted it here today and I think after you read it, my reasons will be clear. Around this time of year, I'm hopeful we can shed a bit of inspiration for those currently in that uphill battle to get published. With any luck, my story will help.... :)

This is not some random picture I pulled off Google, these are the actual rejection letters I received from literary agencies from 2008-2009. There are about 75 letters in all, not to mention 100+ email rejections. I'm sure you can do the math. I wanted to toss these into the trash as even now they're a bit hard to look at, but my husband forced me to keep them. He said I'd be happy I did later on, and he was right. Since my first book, Nightshade City, was published, it's won the Westchester Fiction Award for 2011, it's been named a CBC Best Book of 2011, and is a Goodreads Choice Award and SCBWI Crystal Kite Finalist for 2010. I'm invited to speak to kids and other writers on a regular basis and they actually are interested in what I have to say, which is pretty darn cool for a girl who four years ago decided to write a random book about rats--of all things. Nightshade City also resulted in my job with National Geographic, as a Nat Geo editor read it and then contacted me to see if I'd be interested in writing for them. I guess what I'm trying to tell you guys is it's darn hard to get published, but my story is one of the many examples that it is entirely possible and there are many good things to come if you can weather the storm.

Around this time of year we all wonder about our goals in life and if we'll ever reach them. I cannot say I didn't get defeated back then, with my ever growing pile of rejection letters, but I can say, I didn't give don't you do it either.

I mean it. Don't give up or I will hunt you down and slap you around a bit! 
Me holding my first copy of Book II
of the Nightshade Chronicles,
The White Assassin


  1. That beautiful smile on your face says it all! My motto is "perseverance is the act of true role models and heroes." And I often have to repeat it to myself during those tough times. Thanks for being a role model. Congrats and much success.

  2. Just don't send Billycan after us! (Not that we're planning to give up, you understand.)

    Happy Holidays to you and yours, Hilary.

  3. Needed this. Thanks! ~~Cari L. Sadler

  4. Hilary- thanks so much for this post. Good thing there's a distinction between discouragement and giving up! Merry Christmas!

  5. When Miss May hits the shelves next month, it will mark fourteen years of writing with an eye toward publication. 14! So glad I kept plugging away, hoping beyond hope that the next story/editor/agent would be the one.

  6. Yay for you Hilary! I save every rejection I ever get too, though I've only ever received one paper letter.

    Happy Holidays!

  7. LOL, when I saw the picture, I said to myself that I just saw it on Hilary's blog. Now I know why I saw it here, too. Thanks for a great post!

  8. Liza, I know EXACTLY how you feel! You really just have to shrug it off and keep going!

    Michael, I'm sending Billycan after you just for giggles! ;)

    Cari, you are so welcome!

    Kelly, yes! If it hadn't happened for me when it did, I'd still be trying! MUST. GO. AFTER. DREAM. !! ;)

    Matt, I started my search, right when agencies were starting to go virtual. You should have seen my stamp bill!

    Susanne, you are so welcome! I wanted it to hit as many folks as possible!!


    xoxo -- Hilary

    Caroline, I had no idea! It's funny how you always think other people probably had it easier, then you hear their story! No one has it easier!!!

  9. THanks for the encouragement to keep going! Love hearing stories like these!

  10. LOVE this post, Hilary. I think stories like yours are SO important to share. They help others keep trudging through the muck of query/writing frustration. :-)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!