Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Writers Dealing With Rejection

Okay, the truth hurts. The fact is no matter how good a writer you are, no matter how persistent and devoted to your writing, you’re going to receive rejections.

Probably a lot of them over time.

Naturally every writer would like to have all his or her writing recognized for the incredible gems that they are and published forthwith, but here’s where reality intrudes: it ain’t gonna happen. Even if your writing is perfect in every way, a gem, polished to sparkling perfection (yeah, like that’s going to happen) it might not be to an editor’s taste or the editor could be having a bad day and not like anything coming across the desk, or a lowly reader wouldn’t pass it on to said editor.

So, what to do?

How to avoid becoming depressed, frustrated, and one of those writers who fall by the wayside and give up?

First, remember a few simple facts. Agents and editors are swamped with submissions by dabblers, those who pursue writing for amusement and not as their life’s work. This can be good news for the serious writer who’ll find the more professionally he or she approaches an agency or publisher, the more seriously a submission will be taken.

Secondly, the bad news is established agents get over one hundred submissions a week. Top publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from writers are equally buried. Good news from the perspective of the professionally minded aspiring writer is more than ninety percent of the submissions received aren’t worth looking at twice. Make sure your writing is in the 10% category.

Consider how many writers (read dabblers) put out sloppy work filled with errors; typos, grammatical, or form. Others don’t give a thought to whom they are submitting.

Whether to an agent or a publisher, it’s the writer’s responsibility to know to whom he or she is talking. Know if the publisher publishes the kind of story you are submitting. Know if the agent handles the type of book you are proposing. If you send a science fiction book proposal to a publisher of romance novels you can be certain that proposal will be in the trash can or zapped off email within moments. Don’t go thinking your work is somehow magical and when you submit a romance to a western publisher (assuming it isn’t a western romance) that it will somehow slip through and be published. Same thing with an agent.

If you mail a query or proposal to several places at once, personalize each one. If they figure you’ve mailed your submission to every agent or publisher in the known universe that, too, will land your submission in the trash heap. Even if you DO submit to every agent and publisher in the known (and perhaps undiscovered) universe they don’t have to know that so take that extra moment and don’t give them reason to guess.

If you do your job right, if you research and rewrite until you know to whom you’re sending your writing and you know it is the best that it can be, then you’ll find you’re not competing with all those hundreds of writing submissions, but rather with only perhaps the ten percent who comport themselves as professionals.

So, you’re doing everything right. Cool!

You’re still going to get rejections. Expect it. Simply put, the chance that what you write will be exactly what any single editor or agent is looking for today is usually very small. Remember, even big-name writers get rejections. Comforting, huh?

Don’t take it personally. Perhaps your piece just wasn’t the right thing for that publication at that time. Perhaps they have something similar in the works. Perhaps that particular editor is going through a very nasty divorce, is drinking heavily and nothing would look good to him/her. It isn’t necessarily a rejection of YOU, nor is it a put down on your writing abilities. 

Develop a thick skin, ride it out and when you receive a rejection think of it as an opportunity. Send out a new query immediately. If it is a novel, send it to a new publisher or agent for consideration. If it’s an article, send a new query to the editor from whom you’ve just received the rejectionthen tweak the original and send that out to a new editor. 

Oh, and did I mention don't call an editor or agent to argue how they're wrong about rejecting your article, novel, script or whatever. Won't help, will only hurt.

Need more inspiration?  Here are a couple more links


  1. Great advice Peggy. Now I need to check if there is in the known Universe a publisher who works with humour since that seems to be the reason given for my rejections.I must have disappointed one who thought I was doing a book of jokes.
    It's just as well I have the Indie option and a thick skin.

  2. That's the attitude,Lord David! And Thanks for the comment. Keep on writing and keep that thick skin!

  3. This post inspired me to include it in a list of 15 blogs that encourage, affirm, and celebrate writers and our shared humanity. To see that post, please visit, the 2.8.13 post. And I'll try, try, and try again.

  4. Thanks so much for your comment and adding me to your list of 15 blogs - come back and visit any time.


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