Years ago, a very dear friend shared some wisdom and wit in the form of a letter to the editor of The New York Times Magazine. The friend had not written the letter; but he tore out the page and shared it with me so that I would not get discouraged by the long road ahead of me as a commercially successful novelist.
Here is the gist of the letter, which had to do with the steps to publish a book: You write a proposal, which gets rejected by every literary agent you contact. So, you start a website and try to generate interest on your own. Eventually, an agent notices you, but publishers still aren't willing to take a risk until your national profile is elevated. You hire a publicist to help you with this, and finally secure a small--small--advance from a publisher. And then you spend all of the advance promoting your book anyway, because you're still too big a risk for the publisher to do it.
And that's for a nonfiction book, which is actually easier to publish than fiction. And when I say easier, I really mean less hard and not easy at all.
For some reason, though, we keep trying. I don't know why. Although I don't think new rejections or roadblocks actually hurt any less, I spend less time thinking about it each time; I bounce back faster. I suppose in the long term it will make me a better person. So if rejection is a lemon, I reckon that stronger personal armor is the resulting lemonade.
Doesn't make it any easier to swallow, though. Not really. It's still bitter as hell and makes my eyes all squinty.