Friday, 11 January 2013

How do you deal with rejection?

Rejection comes in many forms for writers. It can be that returned manuscript in your familiar SAE, (which happened to me today – more of this in a future blog),  an unwelcome email informing you that your grant application was unsuccessful, a one star review on Goodreads or Amazon  (or no reviews at all!), or simply an honest friend telling you that your book didn’t really do it for them.   Or disappointing blog stats!

When I started sending work out to publishers at the tender age of 13, I kept a paper log (which I still have) listing what I sent out, where, when and the outcome.  It was soon peppered with red crosses but that occasional black tick made the continuous struggle worth it.

When I eventually got an agent, many years later, I thought that was the end of rejection but of course the agent just fields much of that for you, and I still laboured over submissions that publishers eventually turned down, continued to enter writing competitions (most of which I got nowhere with) and sent speculative feature proposals to a range of magazines. Yes, every rejection thickens the skin (but still hurts) and yes, every acceptance still makes me whoop with joy.  You’re never too old to whoop!

Being rejected is part and parcel of being a writer, especially if you want to be published.  If you decide to go the indie route (by-passing the gatekeepers) then you are still at the mercy of your readers.  Some will love you. Some will hate you.  And some won’t give a toss. Which is kind of like life, isn’t it?

Canny writers have a positive approach to rejection – no sooner has their work been returned to them, than they are repackaging said work and sending it elsewhere.  I would recommend this strategy, because it means you always have plenty of work “out there” (at least 10 pieces if possible) so you continue to maximise your chances.  On several occasions where one editor has turned me down, another has accepted my article or story.  Subjectivity, timing and sheer luck all play a part. The trick is to keep moving forwards. Onwards and upwards.   

So, how do you deal with rejection?


  1. It hurts me every time, even if I'm expecting I! It's not quite so bad if it's something I had a niggling little doubt about, but having something I'd thought was great rejected is so bewildering and disappointing! I'm developing a thicker skin, but it's a slow process. Like you said, the ticks make it worth carrying on! :-)

    1. Rejection is always hard to deal with, but I find sending out something new the same day as the rejection (or resubmitting the same piece elsewhere) is really effective and productive.