Celebrating Rejection Letters? Easy After Finding Felicity is Published

August 7, 2011 | By | 30 Replies More

Rejection letters are beautiful things.

I can say that now, feeling somewhat smug that my novel, the very novel for which I have said beautiful rejection letters, has found a home. That it took six years is a fact that I do my best to repress. They were six very very long years. Does it matter now? Not in the least.

North Carolina Author, Monica Marlow's first romantic novel Finding Felicity was just released on Kindle.

When I set out to write Finding Felicity, my goal was to write an intelligent “beach read”, a book that readers who read literature would enjoy as a light read, and readers who usually read more commercial fiction would find thought-provoking. I accomplished that goal perfectly, which turned out to be my undoing.

With a full-time office job, it took three years in a writing workshop led by author Noel Hynd in Los Angeles for me to finish the manuscript. After taking a “How to Write a Query Letter” class at the Learning Annex, I sent out queries to agents en masse. Another year passed and finally I received an offer of representation. I will never forget “the call”.

Soon to be my new best friend, my agent-to-be called Finding Felicity “brilliant” (I liked her immediately) and was calling to make me an offer of representation. I hung up the phone and my boss called me into her office wanting milk for her tea. I happily fetched it for her, thinking that my days as a milk fetcher were short-lived, indeed.

The submission process that began in 2004 was excruciating. At the time, hard copies were still being circulated and it took one to three months to hear back from an editor. The rejection letters started appearing in my mailbox. Each one was more painful than its predecessor.

Formerly of Los Angeles, California, now located in Apex, North Carolina, author Monica Marlow celebrates the publishing of her debut novel, Finding Felicity.

As the months turned into a year, I knew my agent, who had previously been an editor at Berkley, was becoming battle weary. In an email to me she wrote, “As you know, I really believe in this novel and am very disheartened that no one thinks it’s perfect. We hear the literary people saying it’s too commercial and the commercial people saying it’s too literary or too quiet. Very frustrating.”

Very very frustrating. I was devastated. My agent eventually gave up submitting, advising me to keep writing. I began my next novel, but it was tough slow going. As the years passed, I eventually relocated to North Carolina and realized that my next book is really a memoir, so I started exploring creative non-fiction.

One email can change everything.

Last December, my writing teacher in LA, Noel, emailed me to say that a friend of his had acquired a small press that published romances and that he had mentioned Finding Felicity to her. She would take a look at it, he said. From my desk, I pulled out the CD where I had saved the manuscript, dusted it off, wrote an email, and clicked send.

Two months later, a publishing contract was in the mail.

Is Eternal Press a large New York publisher? No. But that is the reason Finding Felicity will see the light of day.

Publishing is changing. Ebooks are leading the way into the future, and while Finding Felicity will be available in both print and ebook versions, I am thrilled it is coming into the world now. Because of ereaders, more people are reading now than ever before, and more people are discovering writers like me, whose books might not have fall into a neat genre.

My agent has since left the publishing industry, so while with the same agency, I move forward with a new agent into a changed landscape. My memoir is a romance, a love story, one that I hope readers who read Finding Felicity will embrace as I take my next steps along my writing path.

The gift this journey has given me is courage to write the book I want to write, and faith that there are readers who want to read it when its time is right. Commercial. Literary. Or somewhere in between.

Monica Marlowe’s debut novel, Finding Felicity, was just published in early August 2011. Monica writes about heroes and heroines who follow their heart.

Subscribe to Monica’s blog. Like Monica Marlow’s author page on Facebook. Follow @AuthorMonica on Twitter. Order Finding Felicity on Kindle at Amazon.com, soon to be available in paperback.

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Category: Contemporary Women Writers, US American Women Writers, Women Writing Fiction, Women Writing Romance Novels

Comments (30)

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  1. Just discovered this and feel very heartened, Monica. Congratulations: I can’t wait to read Finding Felicity.

    Silly me: I wrote my first novel as a novel because I thought it would be easier to get it first published as a novel, and THEN a screenplay. The writing part was quick and easy and relatively painless. Three months into the search for a literary agent – and granted, I’ve only sent to maybe a dozen – I’m discovering that my skin is thinner than I realised. Some are hilarious – like getting a reject from someone whose name is ‘intern@’ – but others do hurt.

    I think it’s the L word: why do they need to tell me they don’t ‘love’ my book? Maybe I’ve been in England too long because a polite ‘it’s not for us’ would suffice. In any case – I’m really heartened to learn that I still have five years and ten months to go before I throw in the towel. I’ve got time!

    Very best wishes to you, Monica. You’re an inspiration!

    • Thanks so much for posting, Jill! You do indeed have time! Keep submitting and keep writing. It CAN happen and when it does, it will all be worth it. Some nights, even now, I have to pinch myself to believe I really am published, and it’s the most satisfying feeling! I can’t encourage you more to keep at it. Cheers to you!

  2. Janice says:

    Congratulations! I can completely relate, though obviously not on the same level. Instead, with literary journals. Rejection letters sting more than I realized. Until I received my first email of acceptance. Then, on my next send out, the rejections weren’t so bad. All I had to do was grab a copy of the magazine I was in and smile fondly at it. Until the next acceptance came in. Great for you!!

  3. Michelle says:

    Congratulations Monica. Hope to see more of your work come through Eternal Press.

  4. desiree says:

    at least you did not give up and got what you wanted congrats on that

  5. It’s wonderful that your book found a home! Electronic books are on the rise, and it’s a great feeling to be carried along on the wave.

  6. Shadow says:

    Congrats! How awesome! After 6 years, you never gave up hope and you kept believing and running after your dream and now you’ve finally made it! You are a woman after my own heart! I could never do it. Id get dejected and give up. Its absolutely wonderful for you! I hope its a best seller and i wish you all the best! Congrats to you!!!

  7. Heartfelt congratulations from a fellow writing milk fetcher!

  8. LInda Sands says:

    It’s the letters that give you hope that are most frustrating. Being close to a sale and not getting it hurts more than NO thanks, doesn’t it?

  9. Nettie says:

    Congratulations, Monica! It is heartening to read your story and to see that with talent, tenacity and a smidgen of luck you found a home for your book. I can only hope to emulate your success some day.
    Huzzah! to you.

  10. Congratulations, Monica! Good for you for hanging in there. I look forward to reading it!

  11. It’s interesting to read your experiences with Finding Felicity and I, like most writers I imagine, have had to deal with the blow of the rejection letter as it hits the floor, and the lengthy time it takes from submission to a positive outcome. Unlike you, I’ve never had an agent. I have managed to get five children’s picture books published though and have a publisher for a new series of books for 6-9yr olds, the first of which is due out next Spring. Being without an agent has meant trawling through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook on a regular basis and sending to publishers direct. Amongst the many rejections though (and there have been many), I have received a lot of support, encouragement, and constructive feedback, even from very busy publishers who haven’t thought the work I’d sent in was right for them. This has been invaluable and has helped me to re-assess my work. Those rejections never get any easier and dent my confidence every time, but the positive feedback from publishers, including my current publisher, Piccadilly Press, enables me to keep doing what I love.

    • What strikes me about your comment, Abi, is that you’re doing what you love successfully WITHOUT an agent! THAT is quite an accomplishment and a testimony to your tenacity. Good to see you here at WWWB and hope to see more of you! Keep on keepin’ on!

  12. Vicki Kunkel says:

    What a brilliant post! And the fact that it took six years is an inspiration to all writers. As you said: It just takes one email.

    Having personally received my share of rejection letters prior to my book being published, I can attest to piercing pain each one sends through the heart of a writer. But I also admit that BECAUSE I received so many rejection letters, it made that one “we want it” all the more sweet. The previous rejection letters made me truly appreciate the one publisher who wanted to take a chance on my book.

    I look forward to reading your new book — on my newly-purchased ereader! 🙂

    • Wow, Vicki – thanks so much for your kind words. I just got a Kindle last weekend and it’s already indispensible! I hope you enjoy Finding Felicity and if you get the chance, I’d love your comments on FB or Twitter.

  13. Congratulations! Yes, rejection letters lose their edge when you become published. As for mine, I went the self-published route for many of the reasons you stated: ereaders are changing the way we read and the way we publish.

    My book straddles romance and women’s fiction and is a tough sell–but NOT a tough read. And in the end, it’s the reader’s opinion that counts the most! 🙂

  14. Great post. Glad your book saw the light of day. It took 25 years for one of mine to see that! lol

  15. Rachel Green says:

    Congratulations on publication!

  16. Love the post.Very informative. It is easier to take when you get the first book published.

    Thanks for the great info

    Walk in harmony,

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