After three months of back and forth on a book proposal for a book idea they pitched to me, their “no” was short and to the point: The marketing department doesn’t think you have a strong enough platform to sell books.
I was devastated. I cried big, ugly toddler-sized tears for days. The bitterness lasted even longer. Why did two of my friends get book deals and I didn’t? My platform was bigger than theirs!
Years later, I realized that rejection was the greatest thing that ever happened to me professionally. That NO changed my entire life—for the better.
If that proposal had become a book deal, I would have been the author of a book I didn’t care about, and it’s more than possible I never would have discovered the power, profitability, and potential of self-publishing.
That NO was a gift because it forced me to pursue publishing in my own way—and use my own book idea. The book I wrote after that rejection, More than Cashflow: The Real Risks and Rewards of Profitable Real Estate Investing, has helped hundreds, maybe thousands, of real estate investors make better investment decisions. It went to number one on Amazon as a print book—ahead of Game of Thrones and Dan Brown in Canada. I also made way more money than I would have in a traditional publishing deal and kept full control over the content.
So, if you’ve been told NO, say “thank you,” and make the most of it. Here are 5 ways to do that:
1. Explore Other Paths
When you hear NO, look at how else you can accomplish your objective. Rarely is it true that there is only one path available to get to where you want to go. What other options are there to get to the result you want?
When a traditional book deal was no longer an option, I decided to self-publish. It was more challenging, but the rewards were far greater.
2. Pause and Reflect
NO is an opportunity to pause and reflect. Was the pursuit of that goal really important to you? I’d gotten lost in the excitement of potentially getting a book deal that I never really paused to think about the book topic my proposal was on.
When I was rejected, I realized that I had almost no interest in writing the book they wanted me to write. What a relief to not be the author of a book I didn’t care about!
3. Fuel Your Determination
You can use rejection to fuel your determination to succeed. Ever met a kid that accepts NO at face value? There’s negotiation, strategy, tears, pleading, anger, and determination at the heart of every tiny human when they’re refused something that they want. It’s immensely frustrating as a parent, but there’s value in tapping into your inner child and fighting to get what you want.
The rejection made me decide that if I was going to self-publish my book, it would be as good or better than if it had been traditionally published. I did hundreds of hours of research alongside the hundreds of hours I put into writing the book. I was fueled by the determination that I could do it as good or better—and I was going to prove it.
4. Ask “Why Not?”
NO gives you the opportunity to ask, “Why not?” and learn something valuable from the answer. If you are told, “you can’t do that,” dig past the rejection and uncover the gift within. Sometimes the greatest opportunity lies in that hidden lesson, and simply accepting NO and moving on robs you of the opportunity to discover it.
That publisher told me I didn’t have a strong enough platform to sell books. That made me dissect what platforms sell books. I researched book marketing strategy deeply, and ultimately realized I would have to connect with people who did have a platform and ask for their support! Thanks to the support of many other folks with sizable audiences, we sold thousands of books in a single week!
5. Find a New Direction
Sometimes NO is just a really great nudge that you’re going the wrong way. You’re chasing the wrong result or the wrong opportunity. Often, I think it is life’s way of saying, “Hey you need to turn around—you’re meant for bigger, better, and more impactful things.” If you were to have heard “yes,” your life would have been too full to pursue the bigger opportunity that was available to you.
Being told NO by traditional publishers opened me up to the world of self-publishing—owning all your rights and keeping all your royalties—and if that hadn’t happened, I never would have started Book Launchers, which is pretty sad because I love it far more than I ever enjoyed any real estate deal. Together with my team, we’ve created a company that cares about our authors and their books deeply and supports them to self-publishing success. No book deals required!
NO can be so much better than a yes if you choose to look for the value and opportunity in that moment. Sometimes you’ll need a bit of time to see the value and opportunity, but if you choose to find it, you will!
Julie Broad is the founder of self-publishing services firm Book Launchers and an Amazon Overall #1 Best Selling Author. Her popular YouTube channel BookLaunchers.TV teaches nonfiction authors how to write and market books people will want to read. An expert on writing with marketing in mind, Julie has been speaking on stages across Canada and the US since 2009, providing the best approaches to get results, make an impact, and ultimately, make more money. You can find out more about her on her website and follow her on LinkedIn. You can also find out more about BookLaunchers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.