Writing Advice: How to Deal with Rejection
Rejection – it’s a necessary evil that every writer must experience. Whether you’re an aspiring writer or a seasoned veteran, the truth is that in your lifetime you’ll receive miles more rejection letters than you will acceptance letters. I’ve heard it said that for every manuscript that gets accepted, a good twenty get tossed. Some rejection letters are constructive. The odd few can be just downright hurtful. Regardless of how many times, or why, your manuscript gets rejected, here are some tips to help you get through it.
1. Be persistent
Did you know that the first Harry Potter book was rejected 14 times before finally being published? In fact, many now famous authors went through years of rejection, but aren’t we all glad they kept at it? What eventually set them apart was that they didn’t give up. One rejection letter is not a reason to give up on a manuscript, and it’s certainly no reason to give up on being a writer! Get yourself into a cycle where as soon as you get a rejection letter, you send the manuscript back out to a different publisher.
2. Don’t take it personally
It’s very difficult not to take it personally, but you have to believe that it is not about you. Most editors are looking through dozens of manuscripts a day, but only have the space or budget to publish a very small percentage of what they receive. Because of this, they’re looking for reasons not to publish your story – they’ve got to whittle down that pile somehow! This means that most of the time, your story is being rejected for very insignificant reasons, not because of the quality of your writing.
3. Learn from your mistakes
Sometimes an editor will give you specific instructions on how you can improve your manuscript. Take these into consideration before putting your story back into circulation, and make the changes if you agree with them. Be open to their suggestions, and don’t let your pride get in the way. At the end of the day, editors are looking for work they know they can sell – they’re the best people to be critiquing your work.
4. Rejection-proof your manuscript
Before you send in your manuscript, make sure you are giving the editors as few reasons as possible to reject it. If you’re submitting to a magazine or journal, read back-issues to make sure you’re bringing something new and fresh – most magazines won’t print more than one story about the same topic within a couple of years. While you’re flipping through old issues, you’ll also get to know its tone. This will help you better determine whether your writing will be a good fit. Don’t send in a romance story to a publisher that mostly prints horror!
Another way to rejection-proof your manuscript is to read the submission guidelines very carefully. They will specify how many pages they’ll accept, the proper way to format (font size, margins, etc), and any other particulars that might seem insignificant to you, but are a really great way to whittle down that pile of hopeful manuscripts we were discussing earlier.
We’d love to hear your stories about bad rejection letters. Share them in a comment below!