Hi Everyone, hope you’re all well 🙂
Ok, so I’ve decided to write about dealing with rejection. The literary world is absolutely saturated with it, although it tends to be something we don’t prepare for.
You may already be aware that your writing will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but are you ready to be told that by a literary agent or publishing company?
Rejection is horrible, no-matter the circumstance. We wish for our writing to be loved by every reader and we want people to truly enjoy our hard work. However, the unfortunate reality is that not every reader will fall in love with our writing, let alone enjoy our efforts to entertain or educate them. But something society never tells us is that rejection is healthy. If everybody loved your writing, nobody could ever be your biggest fan. Without rejection, we aren’t given opportunity to learn and improve. Given that well-known adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, if everyone believes your writing is awesome, then why would you strive to make it even better? In such an instance, it wouldn’t be long before readers became bored of your work and seek out the next great author – you have a favourite song, though no-matter how amazing its composition is, you aren’t going to keep listening to that song on repeat when there are billions more out there just waiting to be discovered. Keeping your writing fresh is vital to achieving literary success.
Here is my process for dealing with rejection…
1.) Accept your feelings.
There’s absolutely no point trying to be stoic about it. Someone said they disliked a piece of writing you’ve poured your heart and soul into for months, if not years – you are allowed to feel crappy. It is acceptable to address your disappointment with some ice cream, or a walk, or whatever other way you deal with rejection in other areas of your life. Allow yourself time to deal with self-esteem-destroying rejection in the way you’ve found works best for you. We are all human. At the end of the day, if you try to suppress those feelings of anguish and disappointment, they will inevitably pop up later down the line, causing you to feel worse. Let it out, feel however you need to, then let it go. It is important to mention here that absolutely every writer past, present, and future has or will be forced to deal with rejection. You are not alone. Please reach out to a fellow writer if you’re finding rejection too heavy to deal with – I guarantee they will be sympathetic; and if you decide to reach out to me, I will help however I can.
2.) Always be polite and gracious.
Earth is a vast place, yet however infinite the reach of the written word, the world of writing is not. Since there are far more writers on Earth than literary agents or publishing companies, the laws of mathematics dictate that you’re likely to encounter them again at some point in your journey to publication and beyond. No-matter how awful a rejection makes you feel, please be polite and respectful to the person giving you the bad news. Burning your bridges is not only unprofessional and wrong, it is foolish. “Treat others as you’d like to be treated” is certainly applicable to rejection of your writing. I have worked for a publishing company and learned quickly that when our publication schedule was full, we had no choice but to reject writers – it was like removing a tether. Our concern was that leaving writers waiting too long for a response was like tethering them to uncertainty when they could be out there trying to have their work published elsewhere. Whenever a writer responded impolitely, we knew that working relationship would never be successful – so we’d forget about that person’s submission. It was respectful writers who thanked us for taking the time to consider their manuscript that we’d never forget; in fact, when our schedules cleared a little, they were the first to be contacted. Sometimes rejection isn’t down to your writing being of inferior quality, it could simply be that the literary agent or publisher has a full schedule at that moment in time.
3.) Edit your manuscript, again.
I learned this the hard way. If you’re the only pair of eyes to have read through, edited and proofread your manuscript, there will inevitably be mistakes. It is true that you could have the brightest editorial team on the planet work on your manuscript and still find the odd typo or grammatical error – I reiterate that we are all only human – but I advise you always have an editor read through your manuscript before sending it to literary agencies and publishing companies. You’ll find an array of talented editorial professionals in the “Helpful Resources” section of my website if you don’t already know an excellent editor. Even one extra read-through of your manuscript by someone else can help catch plot-holes and errors that might be costing you opportunities for success with literary agents and publishers. As a perfectionist I had issue comprehending that my own abilities were not enough, after all, it was my writing so why shouldn’t I be the best person to edit it? Though rejection taught me that no-matter how meticulous I was with my manuscripts, I’d never find success until I accepted constructive criticism and honest, helpful feedback. Now, I thoroughly enjoy the editorial process – even if a manuscript is rejected, at least my editor enjoyed reading through it! And if an editor doesn’t like something I’ve written, they’re gifting me the opportunity to improve that manuscript until it is of a high enough standard to submit to literary agencies and publishing companies. I’m happy to read through manuscripts and offer advice, though because time is precious, it tends not to be something I’m able to complete free of charge – sorry!
4.) Move on.
It is easy to reside in a spiral of self-doubt and misery after countless rejections, but please don’t. The world needs your writing. So, the longer you spend sulking because a handful of people out of the 7 billion+ on this planet didn’t decide to publish or support your work, the less likely it is your manuscript gets into the hands of readers who will become your biggest fans. Keep writing, revising, and sending submissions, because humanity requires your writing talent – you just haven’t found the right home for it yet.
I hope I have helped you feel better about rejection in the realms of writing. Please feel free to reach out if I can be of any further assistance in your journey to publication 🙂
Wishing you a happy Monday! <3