Lessons from a Saleswoman by C. Morgan Kennedy

I make my living doing sales and marketing. Any career salesperson will tell you that rejection is part of the game. I don’t know how many rejections it takes to equal one sale, but I can say that it is more than a two to one ratio. It truly is the tenacious person that wins, but that tenacity has to be rooted in a foundation of listening and learning or your message or product will quickly be ignored.

Here are a few pointers from a professional saleswoman on rejection:

Lesson #1: Grin & Bear It

The hard truth is – Everyone isn’t going to love your product (book or story). The sooner you accept this fact, the better off you’ll be. Simply thank the person for their time and move on. Customers (readers) are allowed to have an opinion, but you don’t have to accept their opinion as an ultimate truth. Handle their criticism gracefully, don’t resort to arguing, and get cracking on your next product (book).

Lesson #2: Listen with an Open Mind

Often we are quick to go on the defensive. By immediately taking a defensive stance, you may be missing out on an opportunity to learn something new. Especially when the rejection is coming from an agent or editor.

Lesson #3: Reflection and Introspection

Once you have listened with an open mind, it is your call as to whether the input or rejection is valid. Often I see salespeople (writers) try to twist and mold themselves and / or their products based on one person’s criticism. Take the time to reflect on what the person had to say, if they have valid points – learn from it. If they are being petty or completely miss the point of what you are trying to accomplish, then toss their opinion on the trash heap. It’s your call on what you decide to do with the opinion presented and sometimes the best action is to ignore it.

Lesson #4: Move On

This lesson is perhaps the hardest to learn. As human beings, we often seek out and dwell on the negatives. Just the other day, I was on Amazon preparing to write a review for a great book I just read. I found myself reading the few negative reviews and completely ignoring the vast number of overwhelmingly positive reviews. Sheesh! (By-the-way, I didn’t agree with any of the negative posts. In fact, I don’t think many of the negative reviewers actually read the book.) Don’t dwell on the rejection. Learn what you can, then MOVE ON to your next project. How can you apply what you’ve learned if you don’t start something new?

Lesson #5: Be Prepared

You know rejection is going to come your way, so prepare yourself mentally. Think about how you deal with rejection today. If it rolls off of you, great! If you churn over it, beating yourself up in the process of trying to digest it, find a more constructive way to work through it. Yes, that last part is easier said than done, but you have to find a way to remain sane and healthy.

How do you deal with rejection? Leave a comment and let us know….



About C Morgan Kennedy

Author of futuristic, urban fantasy, contemporary romance, and steampunk. Mecha geek fueled by chocolate and herbal tea. Author marketing maven. Co-founder of www.authormarketing101.com.

Posted on July 7, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the great advice!

    Obviously, I was rejected several times before selling. The hardest was that very first one – what a virgin moment. How could the agent send me a form letter? I’d poured my heart and soul into the manuscript! LOL. I got over it and kept plowing ahead. What else could I do?

    Somehow it made it easier to see the rest of the rejections as just another experience on the road to publication. Having said that, as a newbie author who’s still a bit insecure (and probably always will be), I’m bracing myself for the reviews. Might need to have you hold my hand!


    • Melia, I would gladly hold your hand….and make us some rum & cokes! Liquor helps dull the rejection, when taken in moderation – of course! I, too, see rejection as another step on the super highway to publication fame and fortune! You just gotta keep moving forward!


  2. My steps for being rejected,/receiving a killer bad review. Note: Not recommended for use by others.
    1. Take the criticism personally, have a miserable few hours. My world is now colored in gray because one reviewer hates my work.
    2. Get angry. What does that loser know anyway? They shouldn’t be allowed to review, and certainly shouldn’t get paid for it.
    3. Read as many positive reviews as it takes to remind myself my work is loved by others, lots of others. Phhht! Take that, negative reviewer.
    4. Move on. Get busy on something else, remind myself that I write because it is my passion, and I’m not stopping any time soon, one bad review or not.
    5. Look back on my meltdown and roll eyes at own lack of maturity, once again secure in my love of writing and the fact that my books sell despite bad reviews. In fact one of my best-sellers has the most bad reviews. Go figure.

    So that’s what a real slasher of a review can do before I pull myself out of it and follow C. Morgan’s process, which is what we should ALL be following!


  3. Awesome advice!

    #3 was the hardest for me. As a newbie with low self-confidence about my writing, I assumed everyone else new better. If I got conflicted feedback from two contest judges, I’d have a meltdown and assume the fetal position. My manuscripts ended up with so many writing voices that I drowned my own.


    • Thanks Asa! I have literally had doors slammed in my face, a less than mature customer be absolutely crass and hang up on me (he had to issue a formal apology to me and my company for his behavior), and my life threatened by a customer’s union rep. I won’t lie and say that rejection doesn’t affect me, but it definitely helps to keep it all in perspective. Usually, the negativity says more about the negative person than it does about your work.


  4. Great suggestions! Some of them easier to implement than others, of course 🙂 I find that #4 is both the hardest and the most useful. As soon as I move on and start the next thing, all the painful parts of the last thing fade away. Thanks for sharing your pro insights.


    • Even The Bible says “if you are not received, shake the dust off your feet and go elsewhere” …..but I gotta says this message has stuck with me throughout my life. Perhaps this is the reason why I’ve moved so often in my life…and why I’ve chosen to stay in PDX. (Keep Portland weird!) Moving on is truly the best thing to do.


  5. On an intellectual level I think it is important to remember that every reader comes to your story with a set of expectations that you have absolutely no control over or knowledge of. For example, I may see a book title, let’s say “Step in My Shoes,” and make a decision to buy believing that book is a romantic comedy. I approach reading that book with romantic comedy in mind. When by chapter two I realize it is the fictionalized story of a sewer repair woman, I am disappointed. Then, no matter how well-written or wonderful the story is I am no longer objective because I WANTED a romantic comedy that day. Will amazing writing overcome my expectations? Sometimes. It depends on how much I needed comedy that day.

    These expectations are present in ALL readers, including editors and agents. It may be that the editor you are submitting to just had a meeting with her marketing team who told her that right now demons in a steampunk universe who propel dirigibles by flapping their wings and mating with angels are all the rage. Even though that editor may prefer cozy mysteries with a little romance, she is going to be focused on finding something she can turn into what the marketing team wants. Thus the rejection (and usually with nothing more than a form letter saying it doesn’t fit the line). That agent you are targeting is also trying to find something for that editor. Depending on the day your manuscript works its way up her pile and how desperate she is to find that book, you may get a form rejection.

    This is not to say that you don’t get a fair read. You do, kind of. But really it is dependent on so many things outside the story–what is marketable right now, the workload of the reader, how their personal or business life is going, what the reader wants/needs at the moment she picks up your manuscript/book/short story. It would be nice to believe that the reader would recognize great writing and story qualities and set it aside to consider again. Sometimes that does really happen, but most of the time not. Why? Because all readers–whether agents/editors or romance readers–have lots to read, lots of options, lots of needs/wants, and never enough time. It’s easier to say “not today” and not get back to it, or “not today” and send a form rejection.

    On a practical level, when I’m getting really down about my reader reviews (which I try not to do by never reading them), I go to my favorite best seller author and read her reviews–especially the one and two star ones. Really! Try it, you will be surprised that your favorite author gets dinged too.

    That puts it all in perspective. It isn’t always about me and my inability to be a great writer. I AM a good writer–a writer who gets better with each book and a writer who will never stop learning. But I can’t control other people’s expectations for my writing. I can’t control what they want to read the day they pick up my story. All I can do is learn more, get better, write another book, and put it out there.


    • > when I’m getting really down about my reader reviews (which I try not to do by never
      > reading them)

      This! A million times this! I’m getting better about it, I swear 🙂


    • YES, Maggie! I think what you’ve said is perhaps the hardest lesson to learn: It’s not about YOU…. Not that there aren’t occasionally lessons to be learned….it’s just a hard fact that more often than not it’s the other person’s problem and they are directing that energy onto you.


  6. Great points. I recently began a sales job and everything you say here is so true — in writing and IRL job.


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