One of the first things I was told when I started looking for places to submit (by just about everyone) was you will be rejected… A LOT. They aren’t kidding, folks. The more you sub the more you open yourself up for the potential for rejection. It is just the way the jungle works.
I have found, in order to survive this inevitability in the publishing business, I needed to develop a thick skin, as well as carry around a barrel full of self confidence. The second part — that was a tricky one. I have never been the self assured type –more the hyper critical, make everyone happy all the time type–so this was something that took me a while. A few acceptances peppered in with the rejections certainly helped. 🙂
Some rejections are amazingly helpful, while others are the dreaded, standard form response –“thank you but this is not for us”– leaving a writer to try to scrape something positive out of the months (and months) of waiting, while putting bandages on their damaged ego and trying to figure out exactly WHAT wasn’t for them. (Melodramatic much, Bec?)
So how do we deal with this as writers, if it is an inevitable part of the process?
Here are five tips to help in dealing with rejection:
1. Don’t take it personally – Just because one agent or editor doesn’t like it, or think they can sell it, doesn’t mean they all will. They are rejecting a piece of writing, not YOU.
2. Expect rejection – If you are prepared for the worst, it hurts less. Plus, if you go into the submission process understanding that you will be rejected somewhere along the line, you give yourself the opportunity to figure out what steps you will take once the rejection comes in. Again, preparing yourself…
3. Maintain your focus – There is nothing good that can come from stressing over things outside your sphere of influence. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” Concentrate on the things you can change and the things you can do with the rejection.
4. Learn from the rejection – What could you do differently? Did you pitch an agent that doesn’t rep your genre? Maybe your pitch or query was too confusing? There are always lessons to be learned from our live experiences, no matter how unpleasant they may be.
5. Understand rejection is progress – If you are learning from your rejections, each one teaches you a new lesson, making each subsequent submission (hopefully) that much stronger or well written. You are moving forward by submitting and opening yourself up to the potential for rejection. Celebrate that forward progress.
How do you handle rejection? Do you have any tips or stories to share?