As writers, we’ve all gotten them, those dreaded rejection letters. I had a feedback form on my website a while back where readers could send comments or ask questions. Unfortunately because of spam, I had to remove it. I hated that because it was very popular with visitors and one of the questions I received repeatedly was, “How do I deal with rejection?” We’ve all heard the rumors of famous authors who papered their offices with rejection slips before being ‘discovered’. Whether there’s any truth to the rumors or not, one thing is certain, everyone has gotten rejection letters–even the most famous of writers.
I’ve certainly had my share from both major publishers and small press. Not enough to paper even a small room, but then out of all the books I’ve written, I’ve only submitted two and in the process of submitting one now. Black Rock: A Time For Love was rejected twice before being accepted. Captive Fear was accepted by the first publisher, but there was a problem with the contract, so I received by rights back and decided to retitle and republish the book myself on Kindle. To date, I’ve received three rejections for my current manuscript and the full manuscript is presently being reviewed by a larger publisher.
I’ve had poems and articles published in newspapers, magazines, and textbooks, but only received two rejections on that front. The reason for that is simply because I don’t submit. The contracts were offered out of the blue. I went through a three month period where I was submitting a few articles to mags, but these were freebies. (I wouldn’t have been paid) I found it interesting that my submissions were being rejected by magazines who weren’t going to pay me, when I’d been published and paid by others I hadn’t even submitted to. I don’t have time to waste on such nonsense, so I stopped submitting to them.
Rejection is one thing all writers have in common. It doesn’t matter if you’re rejected thousands of times or only once. It hurts. You sweat and slave over your work, only to have someone basically tell you it’s not good enough. I’ve read hundreds of articles on rejection by both the writers being rejected and the editors or agents sending the rejections. Some were highly amusing, some educational, and some just downright sad. The saddest of all are those written by writers who seem to become totally dejected by rejection letters or those who become outraged by them.
Here’s everything you never wanted to know about dealing with rejection letters.
Number One: If it’s a nicely worded form letter, don’t sweat it and DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY–they either didn’t like your query or they had so many wonderful submissions that day, they had no choice but to eliminate some and you got caught in the fray. Forget it and immediately query someone else. If you’re serious about writing, you’ll have to grow a thick skin. Sorry, but it’s true.
Number Two: Suppose you get a letter that slams not only your manuscript, but you, as a writer and offers no helpful clues on where you went wrong. First of all, be honest with yourself. Is this manuscript truly ready for submissions? Have you had an unbiased and honest critique? If not, get one or two or more. If you get good feedback with these critiques, situate yourself where you won’t set fire to anything important, light a match and laugh gleefully while you watch the sucker (rejection letter) burn. Answering a query with rudeness is unprofessional and probably not an editor/agent you want to deal with. Forget them and query another publisher or agent.
Number Three: You get a rejection letter that gives you some pointers on making your manuscript/story better. Rarely will an editor take the time to offer advice. I don’t care if the editor is rude or nice when doing this…immediately go down on your knees and thank God or whatever entity you believe in for that editor. Then send a grateful thank you off to them. After that, put their advice to good use and go to work on making your manuscript better. Then submit to someone else.
Number Four: If you’re serious about being published, continue to educate yourself, improve your craft, and get used to rejections. It’s all part of being a writer. Even if you’ve been published by a large commercial publisher, there’s always room for improvement and being published once, twice or a dozen times offers no guarantees of never receiving another rejection. It sucks, but it’s a fact.
Number Five: If you’re serious about your dream of being a published author, never give up. Keep submitting.
Elizabeth Melton Parsons