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Don’t Take No for an Answer

Flickr Creative Commons: duncan c


“Not right for us.”

“Not right at this time.”




“There’s no easy way to say this, but…”

“It’s not you, it’s the book.”

“It’s not the book, it’s you.”




Sound familiar?

I mean, I could go on, but you get the point. The truth is, the book business is hard. It will kick you in the teeth. With few exceptions, any writer who hasn’t yet been on the receiving end of multiple rejections in many forms, just hasn’t been in the business long enough. Sad, but true.

And not just at the query stage. Or the submission stage. Or after your first book contract. It can come again and again. It can come when you know it’s coming, and when you least expect it.


No, thanks.


You still sweat the same sweat. You’re still the same person they were loving not so long ago. But now they want to see other people. Now they’re not sure that the book that YOU wrote is an “on brand” book. Now they’re not sure that the market is where you’re at.

You think it, they’ve said it.

And what are you supposed to do in face of all of this?

I mean … What would you have me do? Give out, give up, give in?

(I’ve always loved that line from the Lion in Winter delivered to perfection by Katharine Hepburn)


That’s right, I said no.

Do not take no for an answer.

Do not assume that they know more than you about what you are capable of and what you are good at. Do not rest on your laurels, but do not forget that you have laurels. If you believe in your work, do not let them take that from you. Because this business is fickle. This business changes. And one woman’s “no” is another woman’s “yes.”

A short true story. In 2007 I wrote a book with an unreliable narrator. I worked with an editor who shall remain nameless at the time who told me “No one will buy a book with an unreliable narrator.” She told me that when she realized that’s what I’d done, she’d wanted to throw the book against the wall. This from someone I’d paid good money to.

And you know what I did, friends? I listened. Yep. I put that book in a drawer. And then Gone Girl.

You know the rest.

I made a mistake. I took no for an answer. But I learned a lesson.

You’ve got this, even if they don’t have you.

Write on.

About Catherine McKenzie [1]

A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine McKenzie practices law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN, HIDDEN, and FRACTURED, were all international bestsellers and have been translated into multiple languages. HIDDEN was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and a Digital World Bestseller for five weeks. Her fifth novel, SMOKE, was an Amazon bestseller, picked as a Best Book of October 2015 by Goodreads and one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by Amazon. Learn more about her latest bestselling releases, THE GOOD LIAR [2] and I'LL NEVER TELL [3], and watch for her latest releasing in June of 2020: YOU CAN'T CATCH ME [4].