Written by Alayne Fiore
Close your eyes and think back on the worst rejection letter you’ve ever received. Remember that hot sting of embarrassment prickling your cheeks? The burn of your eyes filling with tears? Recall the stomach-churning disappointment mixed with the heart-sinking sense of failure? Can you hear that voice? The one saying you aren’t good enough because the letter says there were lots of “overqualified candidates this year” which obviously means you weren’t “overqualified,” let alone “qualified-enough” to begin with.
We all know that feeling; we’ve all gotten one of those letters. The last time I got one was April 14, 2010. It rejected me from the Graduate program for Creative Writing and Publishing which my heart had been set on. Before you think I’m some woe-is-me sap who gets all neurotic over one rejection, let me tell you the rest of the story.
First of all, this was the second rejection letter I had gotten in as many years from the same program. Secondly, this program is at the college I went to as an undergrad. If they say I’m not smart enough to get in, they really only have themselves to blame. And thirdly, the program at this college which is my alma-mater also happens to be the college that I currently work for, that I have worked for full-time with rock-star performance for over five years. Maybe it was the free-tuition I’d be getting. Or maybe they just really, really don’t like me. Thanks boss.
Rejection leaves you one of two ways: sad and depressed (that was me circa-April 2009, the first time I got rejected), or snarky and over-it (this is me now). I started a book blog, The Crowded Leaf, after the first time I was rejected. The second time made me a monster; a veritable beast turning lemons into lemonade.
Rejection Number Two had a Plan B attached (I was well-prepared): a Certificate Program in Literary Publishing that anyone could enroll in, thus requiring no rejection letters and only a modest chunk of my savings account. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the class, which ran for one week this past June, but I hoped to come out of it with a better knowledge of publishing, a fancy one-liner on my resume, and a vague idea of where I should go next.
The class blew my mind, folks. A five-day intensive which covered nearly everything I would need to know in order to open my own small book press. The light bulb flashed over my head. There were church bells and chimes in the air. There was me as I ran up seventy-two stone steps in a grey sweat-suit and jogged in place victoriously while a crescendo of music soared and one-hundred of my closest friends cheered me on. That explosion you heard? It was my brain.
The seed was planted and out of it grew Rozlyn Press: a small book press for female fiction novelists focusing on the contemporary, magical realism, and suspense genres. Founded, funded, and freakishly run by none other than yours truly. I have a timeline and semi-formed plans. I have a website and a Facebook and a Twitter. I have a formal business plan and an Employer Identification Number (oh snap, IRS!). I have a name and a list of things to do before that name means anything to anyone. I have a long way to go, but I have passion, and a natural talent and knowledge of what is good about a book, and the burn of rejection to spur me onward. The first step is learning how to design books; the next is my call for submissions. Sometime, book-gods willing, maybe a little over a year from now, I’ll hold in my very hands the first book ever published by Rozlyn Press. And then I’ll mail it out for reviews. Stay tuned for updates on this crazy journey.