I was reading this recent article about a rejected author who assaulted the literary agent who rejected him. (You can read it here!) Obviously, this isn't the way to handle rejection; and, it's quite possible this man has deeper rejection issues that he needs to deal with. The literary agent was the straw that broke the camel's back, as they say. (I knew that Bachelor's Degree in Psychology would come in a handy one day!)
But, let's look at rejection, shall we? You've been writing like crazy; have several books under your belt; have tapped many agents/publishers, and nothing is sticking. Nothing! What else needs to happen for your book to be published?
I guess we can blame it on the story, the writing style, or ...that's it's crappy. But, then again, there are some horribly written books out there with a terrible story line, and they all managed to get published and onto the bestseller list.
I don't think we will ever know exactly what it is that gets a crappy book published. Maybe the story is engaging or the characters are likeable. Maybe the agent is under the influence of cold medication, alcohol or..... doing a favor for a friend.
It could also be a matter of lining up with the right agent and publisher perfectly suited to you.
Look at Penguin: They rejected Harry Potter and I'm sure they are kicking themselves for it.
Here's an exercise that you can use when you are sending your stuff out but getting rejections (actually, you can use this when you are writing your stuff too): What is your intention with your book? Who do you want to read it? Where do you want to go with it? What do you hope the reader will achieve by reading it?
Get excited about what you've written. Get passionate about it. Decide that everyone needs to read this book because they will feel better, fall in love, learn how to put the toilet seat down....whatever it is, get it clear in your mind what you want to achieve, and then feel it.
This has me thinking about someone who contacted me years back who wanted me to write her story....for free. She was going through tough times, had lots of health, financial, family issues, and felt that if she got me to write her story, she would be on the bestseller list and get herself out of the hole she had dug herself. Her intention was to make money. She thought this was the quick fix. There was no passion there, no belief in herself or in her story, and readers would sense that.
Get clear on your story. Decide what you want to do with it, with your characters, with how you want it to be received.
Let's take J K Rowling and how Harry Potter took the world by storm. She wrote the story for herself. She believed in her story, and she loved and cared for her characters. Regardless if it was a bestseller or not, if it touched readers, even in the smallest way, she had achieved what she wanted.
So, what do you want from your story?