Suppose four publishers have rejected the manuscript for your thriller about love, war, and global warming. Your intuition and the bad feeling in the pit of your stomach might say that the rejections by all those publishing experts mean your manuscript is no good. But is your intuition correct? Is your novel unsellable?
Could it be that publishing success is so unpredictable that even if our nevel is destined for the best-seller list, numerous publishers could miss the point and send those letters that say thanks but no thanks?
There exists a vast gulf of randomness and uncertainty between the creation of a great novel ... and the presence of huge stacks of that novel ... at the front of thousands of retail outlets. That's why successful people in every field are almost universally members of a certain set – the set of people who don't give up. A lot of what happens to us – success in our careers, in our investments, and in our life decisions, both major and minor – is as much the result of random factors as the result of skill, preparedness, and hard work.
This lesson from The Drunkard's Walk came too late for author John Kennedy Toole, who lost hope and committed suicide at the age of 31 on an isolated road outside Biloxi, Mississippi, by connecting a garden hose from his idling car to his cabin; his mother kept seeking a publisher for his manuscript and eleven years later A Confederacy of Dunces was published – testimony to a mother's unwillingness to give up.Salespeople sometimes say to me, "I don't like that you call me a loser." But that's not what I mean. Happy losers are people who see rejection as a challenge. If 95 percent of the time you are rejected, you have to ask yourself, "Why did I choose this kind of life?" The happy loser likes it because 5 percent of the time, he wins. And all those times he loses, he sees as getting to the win.