Sometimes, I think, we are under the magical assumption that a writer has an idea, writes a story, then an editor at a publishing house acquires it, and it is published. Four clean, clear steps in a straight forward-moving line.
Sigh. Maybe I should revise that we to an I.
I am a fiction writer. And my process is - well - kind of different from the one above. I get an idea for a story. But then I write part of it, get stuck, cut half of it, write it again, give it to a critique partner to read, take her extensive notes, cut half of it again, then revise what is left. I repeat this part of the process until the story is done. Then my agent sends it out to an editor. I get a rejection. Then another editor, and I get another rejection. I repeat this until the story is sold, or put in a drawer. And if it is sold, then it has to go through the whole process of getting published...
The reasons for novels getting rejected are varied, of course. For example, it took B. A. Shapiro eight years to get The Art Forger published. She had already written and sold five novels at that point, but still, she could not find an editor who could and would acquire it. As she says in an interview with Jan Brogan on the blog Jungle Writers Red: "The support of my family and my friends as well as a driving desire to tell stories [kept me going during this dry spell.] It wasn't easy...after five published novels I wrote four more that couldn't find a home. I was thinking about a career change when The Art Forger was acquired by Algonquin Books after many, many rejections by other publishers. I immediately bagged the change idea and started writing a new novel. As far as advice goes, all I can say is that sometimes – not always – but sometimes when you want something badly enough, it can happen. You've just got to get your butt into the chair so that you're there when it strikes."