Nobody likes to be rejected. And when we’ve poured ourselves into a writing project, only to see it rejected by agents and editors, it’s easy to take that rejection personally.
“My manuscript isn’t good enough.”
“My writing skills aren’t good enough.”
“I’m not good enough.”
Is that true?
Before you believe the lie that you’re not good enough, consider the truth.
Maybe your manuscript does need more work. And maybe your writing skills could use improvement.
Or maybe the agent just signed an author who writes in the same genre you do. Or maybe the editor knows he can’t contract your book because his company is releasing a book on the same topic in a few months. Sometimes a rejection has nothing to do with you or your skills and everything to do with timing.
Then again, maybe the timing is fine, but you and the agent or editor simply have different likes.
Agents Are Human
I attended a writers conference years ago where agent Steve Laube served on the faculty. Participating in an agent panel, Steve mentioned that agents don’t always make the right call. He cited a well-known author whom he regretted rejecting several years earlier. During the Q & A session, several multi-published authors prefaced their questions by noting (with a laugh) that Steve had also rejected them. He finally asked the audience to raise their hands if they had been rejected by his agency. I lost count of the hands raised across the room as laughter erupted.
Agents are fallible!
Editors Are Fallible Too
Are you familiar with the anthology series, Chicken Soup for the Soul? The authors spent 3 years developing the first volume and finally published it in 1993, after 140 publishers rejected it. Thirty-three publishers turned them down in the first month alone! Their agent finally returned their manuscript, saying, “I can’t sell this.” Yet in more than 20 years, the series has sold more than 115 million copies with 250 titles, and there are more to come. Inspirational “soup” books have been published for kids, teenagers, parents, women, couples, dentists, sports fans, veterans, nurses, pet lovers, chiropractors, and others.
Yes, editors don’t always recognize a bestseller, either!
Rejection Can Be a Stepping Stone
Author and teacher Kay Arthur once shared an illustration of a donkey that fell into an abandoned well. After many failed attempts to rescue it, the farmer reluctantly decided to end the donkey’s life. So he began to shovel dirt into the well. But with each shovelful that landed on its back, the donkey shook the dirt off and stamped it down. Eventually the farmer observed that the donkey stood a little closer to the top because the additional dirt had raised the floor. The farmer continued shoveling, and the donkey was able to step out of the well.
You and I can use rejection as a stepping stone too. We can use the added time to
- research agents and editors for a better fit
- improve our writing skills
- learn more about the genre we’re writing in
- join a critique group for objective feedback
- draw near to the Lord to learn what He may want to teach us
- encourage other writers who are facing similar circumstances
Don’t take rejection personally. Use it to grow into the person and writer God created you to be!
How has rejection helped you be a better writer? Share your thoughts in the comments.