By: Emily Henry
Rejection is Challenging
Dealing with a rejection of any kind is difficult and painful. It’s that feeling of not being up to someone else’s standards is hard to overcome, but it will happen to every writer, whether they are submitting a manuscript or a guest post.
As writers, we are constantly putting our writing out there for some to like, dislike, critique, or, in some cases, never respond to us. That one is probably the hardest – what was wrong with our writing, did they just miss our submission, are they no longer working?
Another issue is that we have never met the people we’re submitting to and are uncertain how to introduce our writing to them. We feel vulnerable, and it doesn’t matter the size of your work or your experience level; every time we submit something for publication, we will face rejection.
Some of the greatest writers have faced multiple rejections but were determined to be published. JK Rowling is an excellent example of this. How many times was she rejected over Harry Potter? Twelve times and she is now a multi-millionaire writer who is famous the world over. Maybe you think it was her genre. Then consider that these authors also experienced the rejection of their writing:
- Dr. Seuss
- William Golding
- James Joyce
- Isaac Asimov
- Ursula K. Le Guin
- Pearl S. Buck
- John le Carre
- William Saroyan
- Jack Kerouac
You’re not alone. For many, it’s part of the writer’s journey.
Take a Step Back After a Rejection
It is tempting to attack someone critical of us, no matter how small the suggestion is. Rejection can also be quite hard to take when you have put so much effort into your writing, only to have someone tell you that there are too many errors for them to publish.
Rather than respond in the heat of the moment, take a breather, and digest the comments. The publisher wants excellent writing to publish, so it is worth evaluating their critique, see if they are right, and then revise the submission to correct the writing.
Remember, there are reasons behind their criticisms; it is not just a personal attack on you as a person. Read their critique and then read your writing based on this but do this after you have had enough time to be calm and focused again.
Should You Quit Writing?
All of us have our reasons for writing; they are as varied as the content, but when we are rejected, we wonder why we’re even bothering to put words on a page. When we’re rejected, some of us quit writing altogether. But that is when we have to remember why we are writing.
We often write for the love of writing, regardless of getting published. It is important to revisit this and remind ourselves of our writing goals. Why not read something you wrote a while ago, just to help you to reset and go again? We often see our enthusiasm and joy in writing in those early works, and this review can reignite us.
Take a topic you love and write about it. Freya Knight, a writer at UKWritings sums it up with “It can be useful to write an article on something you enjoy. Not to be published, just for the joy of writing.”
Once you start writing again, there are other ways to rekindle the love of writing after a rejection.
Join A Writers Network
Being a writer can be a lonely place compared to most other jobs. Facing a rejection alone, without a colleague being there for support, is hard. There are networks for writers all over social media platforms where like-minded individuals share ideas and support each other. Joining a group or two online could be a great place to get some top tips or to communicate with someone who has been given similar criticisms as you. You might even find a face-to-face group you can join in much the same way as a social media group. You can even ask for feedback on passages to get some pre-submission feedback.
Do Something Else
Remember when you got the rejection notice – all embarrassed, angry, and feeling like your writing would never get published? Then it may be time to do something else. Not forever and not for too long.
Doing something completely different for a couple of days will help your mental state and keep you fresh for the publication process. Leave the rejected piece alone for a day or two and try writing something unrelated:
- An encouraging letter to yourself
- Write in another format – a short poem, essay, or prose
- Write a review of a book that touched you
Something else could be a long walk, a shopping trip, or some gardening. What you do doesn’t matter; you’re not focused on the rejected writing, which can help you clear your mind. And remember to remind yourself that you’re not just avoiding the rejected writing.
Reflect on the Rejection and Feedback
“Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.”―
At some point, you are going to have to lick your wounds and return to the project.
Go through the feedback logically and edit your writing accordingly. The person you have sent your writing to has published dozens of books or guest blogs, so they know what they’re looking for and whether your submission met their standards.
Remember, your goal as a writer is to be published, so this is a step you will need to go through more than once. The more you write, the fewer critiques you should encounter on the road to success. Failing to act on the feedback means you won’t be able to move forward. If you are struggling with moving your writing forward, you could invest in a coach or mentor who is an expert in your field.
Having someone alongside you and using their expertise makes a huge difference. Also, don’t underestimate the power of reading more. Reading helps writers see different styles, tones, and voices, which can help you develop yours. Plus, reading exposes you to a wealth of ideas for your writing.
Also, read other books and blogs similar to yours, and try the magpie approach to ideas.
Go It Alone
Rejection could be the push you need to research the self-publishing route. However, this route isn’t for everyone and requires careful consideration, not a knee-jerk reaction to rejection. Also, self-publishing doesn’t need to be a traditional paper book. There has been an increase in e-books for people to download onto their devices, which will get you published sooner.
But you must check the spelling, grammatical structure and revise the writing yourself. An e-book full of errors will not sell well and create a wrong impression of you as an author.
Although an editor rejected your writing, think about hiring one to help you create the best writing before you publish, even for self-publishing.
You Haven’t Failed – You’ve Learned a Lesson
“…Do not worry about getting rejections from magazines, newspapers, and publishers. A writer’s work is to go on writing. And a writer must keep on writing. The rejection letters become good souvenirs for our stories. Regards, Avijeet”
All writers experience rejection at some point in their careers. What is important is how you deal with it and move forward.
You haven’t ‘failed’ as a writer when your first version gets rejected.
You have only failed if you don’t respond to it.
Developing an attitude that rejection is an opportunity to learn something is essential. What can you learn and from a rejection?
- An experienced editor took the time to critique your writing
- Criticism and requests for rewrites are not personal attacks
- Focus on what you did right in your writing and build on that
Learning from more experienced editors and not being thin-skinned about their critiques are essential qualities in being a successful, published author.
Bio: Emily Henry
Emily Henry is a blogger and writer.
She writes about kindness, self-development, and explores new and exciting ways to become the best versions of ourselves.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
Invitation to Writers
- Would you like someone else to share your writing on social media?
- Have you dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s in your poetry, prose, or problem-solving post?
- Do you need an additional platform for your writing?
- Would you like a new audience?
Your books, blogs, and other writing are featured in your bio, increasing exposure for you.