Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to Deal with Rejection

Rejection sucks.  It means, somehow, in some way, you weren't good enough.  And after you've invested time and energy in trying to accomplish a task, failing is the worst possible result.

I should know.  Earlier this week, I received the first response back on those submissions I sent out during my vacation.  The trouble is that I had already prepared myself to look forward to responses at the end of the summer.  You see, I believed the publishers' guidelines.  I was, in effect, trying not to get my hopes up for an earlier response.  Such things as reviewing someone's precious work take time.

Imagine my disappointment when not only did I receive a rejection on one of my romance manuscripts but that I received it in record time.  Ouch.

So, how to deal?

I've looked at a few ways rejection can be turned on its head and used as a positive instead of a negative.  Kinda hokey, I know, but what's the alternative?  Curl into a ball and let a few rejection slips stop me from pursuing my dreams?  No way!


Rejection is how you evolve as a person.  Think back.  Did you get up and start running right after you took your first step?  Come to think of it, did you take your first step the very first time you tried?  No.  You wobbled and stumbled and fell down.  A lot.  Sometimes you fell hard enough to hurt, to even make you cry.  But you kept at it and you learned.  That's growth.  Personal, intimate, and often an involuntary part of life.

Take the rejection slip as a chance to grow within yourself.  The first rejection hurts bad.  It takes a long time to get over it.  The second one hurts almost as bad and it takes almost as long to recover.  The third is a little better.  And the fourth.  Soon, you will be taking each rejection in stride.  That day will come.  Trust me.


Your writing is a process, not an endgame.  Every time you write a new manuscript, you learn a little from the old ones.  So too will you learn from what manuscripts get rejected, especially when the rejection letter is accompanied by some feedback.

A rejection letter with feedback is a learning opportunity.  These are people in the romance publishing industry who have taken the time to tell you what they think of your work.  Take this to heart and rejoice in the fact that you merited their attention, even for a brief moment.

But even without concrete advice or feedback, a rejection letter can be an opportunity to improve your writing.  If you've sent out a single manuscript to every romance publisher on your list and each one has come back with a form rejection letter, then take this as a sign that you should be moving on from this piece.  Start another manuscript.  Have a trusted friend or another writer review the rejected manuscript for feedback.  Take the criticism and see if you can improve your much-maligned piece or simply incorporate the advice into your new works.


"How dare so-and-so publisher reject my work?  I'll show them!"

Sometimes anger or frustration can be a good motivator, as long as you focus your attention on continuing to improve and submit your work and not on "getting back" at the publisher who rejected you.

Use your desire to show the publisher who rejected you that you can still succeed.  If you still have other potential target publishers on your research list, send out that manuscript again.  Improve what you can before you do so.  Take another read over the manuscript.  Revise your query letter and have someone you trust and admire look at it for you.

Keep trying to publish your work.  Rejection leads to acceptance and even success.  But remember: you can't be either accepted or rejected unless you submit your writing.

Photo courtesy of graur codrin at


  1. "your writing is a process, not an endgame." Thank you. yes.

    As a writer/librarian/person trying to reinvent herself and so afraid of applying to one (1) graduate school b/c it's the only one I would ever attend, yes. Wow. Um, I'm tearing up. And I know what I need to do write (I mean right) now. I have a letter I have to write.


    P.S. have a cupcake. (or three)

  2. Sarah Louise: I have the same problem. I freeze before I send out submissions because of my fear of failure/ rejection but I also have a strange fear of success. One would wonder why I bother :)

    Very best of luck on your application!!!! I will be sending out good thoughts for you.

    PS: Thanks for the cupcakes *devours cupcakes*