Friday, October 22, 2010

How Do You Handle Rejection?

A thick skin is needed when you're a writer.  Rejection is almost always part of the equation as you work on getting your writing represented, published, edited, read .... all of the above.  And even if everything were to go smoothly there's still bound to be some rejection.  Not all readers will like your book and you will hear/read some reviews that will be hard to take.

So how do you handle rejection?

For me it's a seesaw experience.  Some days I'll receive a rejection letter and I'll think the agent/editor is swamped and didn't really understand what they were turning down.  Other days it'll cut me to the quick and I'm sure I must give up the idea of being an author.

The thing I've learned over time is that you need to keep everything in perspective.  A common comment I've received on rejection letters from agents I've queried is a reminder that this is a subjective business.  What one person likes another may not and visa versa. 

Keeping that in mind you also need to look back at the rejections you've received and ask some questions.  For example, have you received some rejection letters that are not the usual form letter?  A personal note should encourage you.  They are not very common.  Also, did the rejection come after a request for a partial or a full sample of your manuscript?  This should also tell you something.  Maybe your query letter needs to be amped up a bit.  Maybe you need to get more feedback from your beta readers and punch up the manscript a bit more so that a partial leads to a full which will lead to a contract.

It's important to remember that a rejection is not a rejection of you.  And it may be just what you need to get yourself moving toward the goal we all wish to achieve, which is having our work out there being read and enjoyed by others. 


  1. Great words of encouragement -- keeping it all in perspective is a good way to go about receiving and handling rejection. Not just as an author, but for all aspects in your life.
    And so true, it's important to remember the rejection is not personal. Nicely put :)

    The best piece of advice I ever got on the subject of rejection, was the 24hr rule. That means, once you've received a rejection, you have 24hrs to sulk and harbor on said rejection. After 24hrs of sulking, you have to move on -- take the lesson and learn from it. If you don't, the rejections will get the better of you. And we can't have that, can we?
    It's kinda like giving yourself permission to grieve, I guess. It works for me, anyway. Although I'm yet to experience the review side of that as my debut book is due for release in a month or so.

  2. Great advice. I worked in Hollywood and on stage productions for more than 25 years before I became a writer. Writing rejections are nothing compared to hearing that dreaded word - NEXT! - said right to your face. =)