Archive for February 15th, 2012

Cut the catastrophizing … even well-known authors have been rejected

If you’ve never visited UrbanDictionary.com, it’s worth a spin to see the online dictionary of slang words and phrases. It continues to grow daily, with more than 6 million definitions as of October 2011. Look up anything – even your name! I’d better warn you, though – some of the definitions and sample sentences can get pretty vulgar.

Fortunately, our names are more favorably defined than some:

Marcie. One of the coolest ways to spell Marcie. Typically, people who spell it this way are very cool and/or hot. Man, Marcie is so hot!


Laura. A really, really cool person; guys want her and girls want to be her. Has many friends. Everyone likes her – they don’t only pretend to like her. Guy 1: Why can we never get a Laura? Guy 2: They all already have great boyfriends.

And now to the point of this post, today’s SBM* Urban Dictionary word of the day:

catastrophize (v) to hyper-imagine negative outcomes to a situation that have no basis in reality; to blow setbacks or problems out of proportion such that you spiral into an emotional catastrophe; to imagine that a situation is worse than it actually is.

Sitting stuck in traffic, Joe began to catastrophize missing his opportunity to deliver the perfect sales pitch and losing the commission he planned to spend on a new suit he would wear to the club to meet the perfect girl. He fell into despair as he contemplated how pointless his life would become because of this standstill on the freeway.

I tend not to go over-the-top in my catastrophizing – but I did catch my gremlin running loose again today as I wondered why I haven’t heard back from three prospective clients. “They must not have liked the work sample I sent.” “She must have decided to go with someone else.” “I guess my fees are too high.” Yep – these were the things that flitted through my mind … until I recognized what I was doing and fell back on a reminder from my friend, international sales trainer Connie Kadansky: “Don’t put words or thoughts in people’s mouths or minds.”

Connie specializes in teaching salespeople to overcome a challenge known as Sales Call Reluctance® – which is a fear of prospecting or self-promotion. It’s been a number of years, but I remember the conversation when she made the above comment. We were talking about the fact that salespeople often catastrophize in the same way I was doing, when she asked, “But why do we go there? Why should we ever assume that our prices are too expensive for someone? We have no way of determining their budget or how they prioritize their spending. We need to stop assuming and just get an honest answer.”

It was helpful to realize I just need to follow up – again – with my prospects and wait to hear back from them. And even if I follow up a dozen more times without ever hearing another word from any of them, I can still make the choice not to personalize their lack of response as reflecting on the quality of my work – or, more importantly, my worthiness.

I think this is an important reminder for authors who are shopping their books to agents and/or publishers, or who seem to be stuck with their marketing. Sometimes a bad book is just a bad book. But equally often, the only thing the rejection letter means is that your book is not the right fit for that publishing company (or the agent/reader who happens to be reviewing your submission).

You always have the option to reframe the lack of response any way you like,  but the reality is that you usually know only ONE thing for sure: you haven’t heard back yet. Nothing more. If you still need some cheering, perhaps you will take heart from some of the more famous author rejections:

  • “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language,” said the editor of the San Francisco Examiner to Rudyard Kipling.
  • Dr. Seuss received many rejection letters, including the following: “[This book is t]oo different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”
  • Irving Stone’s Lust for Life was rejected 16 times, once with this helpful synopsis: “A long, dull novel about an artist.” The book went on to sell more than 25 million copies.
  • And The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down so many times that Beatrix Potter initially self-published it.

For further author challenges/rejections, please see Susie Smith’s blog and a list by Examiner.com.

Here’s to reframing those challenging thoughts!


*Savvy Book Marketer


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