No writer likes rejection, especially when you open your email and get excited to see a notice from a promising publisher, only to find something like this: “Sorry, but this doesn’t fit our current needs.”
Here are a few ideas on how best to handle rejection letters.
Try Not to Make It Personal
I have been writing since 2003. Back in those days, I physically had to send my manuscript in the mail to a publisher. Depending on the publisher, I could wait months for a response, if I even received one. Since I was a beginning writer, most of my submissions came back with a rejection form letter. What started out as a moment of hope when I saw that return letter in my mailbox, quickly turned into a moment of sadness as I thought, “Am I not good enough?”
Let’s face it. We love our writing. We work hard to come up with an idea, we spend lots of time perfecting and developing our drafts, and then we are excited to send out our final manuscript with the hope of our words being accepted and then published. So when that rejection letter comes, we can’t help but feel a bit crushed and a bit downhearted. And it is especially hard when your letter rarely explains why it was turned down.
It isn’t easy, but we can’t make this rejection personal. Publishers and editors receive tons of submissions each month. That’s a lot of work to sort through. Sure, they may have assistants to help, but the chances of your submission seeing the light of day are often stacked against you (pun intended). By the time they get halfway through the pile, they might have found what they are looking for before they even get to your story.
Remember, Publishing is Subjective
The words you write and submit are open to the subjectivity of the publisher or editor. You may have a great story, but if something doesn’t sit right with them, or maybe there was a story too similar to something else they have already received, then your story won’t be considered. That’s why it’s especially important to be aware of the publisher’s needs, and even what specifics are in their submission guidelines. Did you know that if you don’t use the font style or font size they require or the format style they ask for, that you have little chance of them even looking at your manuscript? Study their guidelines carefully to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Don’t lose hope, however. If you are just starting out, you may need to refine your writing in order to make it more appealing. If you have been at it for a while, maybe you need to find a different avenue to submit your writing to. Practicing your craft will improve your chances in the long run. And think about joining a critique group. That extra feedback does wonders in the refinement process.
Know When to Step Back
Recently, I had submitted an idea for a story for a magazine I write for, and it was accepted under the condition of review. I wrote the story, sent it in, and waited. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as unique as they wanted (something similar had been written before). I have been published with this magazine multiple times, so the editor gave me a chance to submit another idea. So, I prayed for inspiration, and suggested an idea I thought was worthwhile. But again, the idea wasn’t quite to their liking. I was offered another chance to submit an idea. However, I realized I needed to step back. I had to admit that I just didn’t have the right idea for the theme they were looking for.
Writing is a learning process. Don’t look at rejection as a bad thing, but as an opportunity to improve your skills, seek a different approach, and try again. Who knows? Maybe that next notification may be a resounding, Yes!
How do you handle writing rejections?
Catherine L. Osornio has written inspirational articles for a women’s ministry newsletter, over 200 leveled reader stories for a school’s reading program, fiction and nonfiction articles for Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines, The Declaration of Independence from A to Z, Thunder Comes a Rumblin’, plus various work-for-hire projects. A former elementary school librarian, Catherine is passionate about sharing the love of reading. She enjoys cartooning, illustration, and reading kids’ books. Email her at CLOsornio@verizon.net or visit her at www.catherineosornio.com.
Attributions in order: Pete Linforth from Pixabay, Brooke Cagle on Unsplash, Ag Ku from Pixabay, and Windows on Unsplash.