Every week, I continue to reach out to agents and publishers to consider my forthcoming memoir, You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are: An Adoptee’s Journey through the American Adoption Experience.
Like nearly every writer who has come before me, I have been rejected multiple times. I expect this. It is part of the business and it is a part of nearly everything we do in life. You will not always succeed. You must try and try again. What matters is what you do after you are set back.
In my case, each email reply helps me improve my pitch. Rejection also fires up my spirit of perseverance.
Being adopted and having overcome discriminatory adoption laws, societal stigma, prejudice, and even family conflict is perhaps the best training there is for overcoming the word “no.”
Nothing trains one for confronting adversity like being an adoptee who challenges the system, and then wins. My book is essentially this story, and by winning I mean achieving justice and reclaiming what was taken from me—my history and family origins.
In my case, I labored several years until I found my birth family and received my birth records that Michigan and my adoption agency tried to keep from me. It would take another 27 years later until I won a court case that defeated the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and forced them, by court order, to surrender my original birth certificate they should have, by law, given me in 1989.
So I am totally fine with the rejection. I am tracking those rejections now, because they tell me how to improve. They also give me good critical feedback. Here are just a few of the comments I have received about my book proposal from editors and literary agents since April 2017:
- “Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough presentation of your work to [OMITTED] . By contrast, your care in preparing your proposal makes the majority of submissions received thoroughly inadequate.”
- “Thank you for submitting your proposal to [OMITTED]. We found the material to be quite interesting. Unfortunately, it does not fit into our current publishing plans. However, we encourage you to approach us with any future projects you might develop.”
- “Thank you for your inquiry regarding the publication of “You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are: An Adoptee’s Journey Through the American Adoption Experience.” Although the topic sounds interesting, we have decided it does not look suitable for our upcoming publication list as [OMITTED] does not cover the topics within your proposal.”
Of course, there are many more rejection emails to date.
One thing is certain: I will publish this book. Just as Peter O’Toole’s character T.E. Lawrence told Omar Sharif’s Sheik Ali in the epic Lawrence of Arabia, “That is written.”