#AdviceSwap: How do you handle a rejection letter?

 “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” – Julie Andrews

Happy New Year!

#AdviceSwap (1)Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Opinions differ on whether making resolutions for the year really works, or what the best way is to  achieve your goals.

But the truth is there’s no one best way for everyone. This week we decided to ask for your expert advice.

Last month we discussed the Top 10 Reasons Why We Reject a Project. Many of you have been writing for a while – maybe even years. You’ve probably received a rejection or two in that time. Rejection is tough – and inevitable. But your willingness to learn from rejection and persevere at your craft is essential to your success.

So how do you handle a rejection letter? What lessons do you take, if any, from a rejection? How do you get past the emotional pain of a rejection? And what keeps you writing each day?

Share your stories, tips and encouragement with your fellow authors in the comments! And keep learning, reading, writing – and following your passion!


18 replies on “#AdviceSwap: How do you handle a rejection letter?”

Rejection. No one likes to receive rejection of any kind. Writers? We have to take it like water off the back of a Golden Retriever. And just like that wonderful dog we are drawn back into the water again and again. I have received so much encouragement over the years and yes, my fair share of rejection letters too. Yet, I learn from each one that gives me advice. Some don’t, that’s true, but the editors who are good editors at least try to take a few moments to explain why what you’ve submitted doesn’t work. Those are the editors I look up to and respect and do my best to correct whatever it was they saw wrong in my work. Sometimes it’s as simple as not fitting what they’re looking for but other times there are true problems that need to be corrected. So never give up, learn all you can from the “good” rejection letters and let the bad ones run off your back. Then jump right in with what you’ve learned and try again. I do.

When I get one, and I’ve gotten a fair share, I just let it sink in for a moment. Then I move on. I keep writing. (I sent out a LOT of queries before I really knew the basics of query writing. I am HORRIFIED when I look back at my first queries compared to now. If I’d only known then…)

I might be sad that my dream of being published isn’t happening RIGHT NOW, but I realize that everything happens in its own time. I’m learning patience. (Gosh, I HATE being patient!!) But rushing things might lead to the wrong agent or publishing house. I want someone who will fight tooth and nail for my work. Someone who believes in my words as much as I do.

I also take a moment and go over my story to see if there is anything that needs tightened up or reworked. (As awesome as I think I am, I know I’m not perfect!) With my first story, I ended up cutting it down from 128G words to a more manageable 74G. (I started writing after reading Outlander. Diana Gabaldon can write an 800 page story. I, sadly, cannot.)

I wrote the following tweet (almost a year ago now) after a rejection: “Not getting down… because this WILL happen. This is just the beginning. @jk_rowling got rejected, I will too! #ItsAllGood #AmWriting”

I wrote that as a booster for myself, late on a Friday night. Little did I know that JK Rowling would retweet my post and my notifications would blow up all weekend. I’ll admit, it was pretty cool. 🙂 And it was then I realized that I wasn’t alone. Not in my rejection and not in my passion for telling stories.

It continues to resonate to this day so much that I’ve pinned it to my Twitter page. When I look at it, the words remind me that I won’t give up. #NGUNS! (Never give up, never surrender!)

Getting published tomorrow would be insanely awesome, but even if it doesn’t happen for ten years, I won’t stop writing. Not when I’ve got more ideas than my fingers can handle.

So here I am, writing… filling up the cloud with my stories. #ItsAllGood

Dianne – I think we all got on that Scottish ship with Diana when she wrote that awesome series. But at the same time, Hollywood came out with Braveheart and Rob Roy, both excellent movies with Scottish heroes. And Highlander ten years before that. All wonderful inspiration. Glad to find another lover of the Scots here. Keep on writing! We’ll all make it someday.

Marcie – that’s exactly what I think the editors hope you will do. They don’t want to discourage but encourage us. It’s their job to help writers succeed, wherein is their success also.

Rejection letters, like customer complaints do nothing to improve the situation unless true feed back is given. That being said, it’s impossible for editors to give complete feed back on the submitted manuscript or submitted chapters; it would take far too much time.

However, it would improve the writers skills, if one issue was pointed out. Possibly, the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak.

Also, since it is Harlequin’s policy not to look twice at a project, state that in the letter, so as not to confuse the writer into thinking they could resubmit the work. Others publishers and editors I’ve work with do allow for this, although it is not your policy.

For me, I rework the piece and submit again, elsewhere. Then, I start a new project. I write everyday, a minimum of 1k. Writing makes it all better.

Yvonne – I still believe deep down in my heart it is getting the right story in front of the right editor. Why else would everyone say a story is great, the story places in contests, or even wins, but time and again it is submitted and rejected? Personal taste. One editor told me she just wasn’t in love with the story enough to push it and in this tough market that’s what an editor has to do. Well, I want the editor who finally falls in love with my book to push it, to help me succeed. So I keep trying. Don’t take it personal. Yes, you’ve created a story but you have dozens more and one day when you are published, you will look back and say, “That’s why that one didn’t quite make it.” Keep your chin up and persevere! You go girl! You can do it. Just my two cents.

If it’s a form reject, I delete and forget. Writing one or two stories at a time, right after another, takes the sting out of rejection because my heart’s already invested in the next story.

If there’s feedback, I copy and save, break it down into a list, research the dickens out of it, and go back and try to put it to work.

I agree rejections are hard. I have received an insane number of them, yet like the baby learning to walk, I don’t or can’t stop writing. Twitter tweets help, the support of the harlequin writing community and the few people who know I write, all help. With every rejection I feel as if I am ripping the scab off to open the wound, yet I can not stop writing and submitting any more than a fish can stop swimming.
Now I try to learn from each rejection, sometimes asking published authors I know what was meant. Iam grateful for any comments and so sorry I can’t master the art. I may be a bench warmer, but I will always support the team. Hugs to anyone who is struggling now. I pray the universe gives you the insight you crave.

Mary Jane, you can master it. Sometimes it takes a lot of time, but the fact that you have the desire to communicate by writing even a blog or Twitter shows you can do it. Don’t let yourself down. Follow that dream and make it a reality!

I’ve only submitted a novel once. It was rejected, but I was lucky enough to have feedback included, which was greatly appreciated, (and thank you for that feedback Harlequin). I was unhappy at the rejection but also very happy because of the feedback and that made me look at my story a little more clearly and see what changes it might need. I think sadness is a part of being rejected, a fear of that very thing has kept me from submitting, but I feel it generally happens because a story doesn’t fit in with a vision. What keeps me writing every day is the stories, the dialogue, the scenes, and the pushy characters in my head that demand to be heard. My world is balanced when I get the words out of my mind and put where I can see them, whether that’s on a piece of paper or on my computer screen. The stories demand to be written and, even if they end up sitting in my filing cabinet for later use or even if they never get used, they just want out. I will keep writing, and submitting, and accepting those darn rejection letters. LOL

Ditto, Amy! Me too. I write because I love to write. I never really tried to be published until about eighteen years ago. I sold a few books to an ePublisher, which sidetracked me from New York, then life got in the way or should I say I was overwhelmed. My life has calmed to chaotic and I am back on track. Perseverance is what it’s called. We can do it!

I have been writing for several years and have finished over thirty novels and novellas, all of which I’ve independently published over the last five and a half years. This method of publishing has worked well for me so far, and trust me, you get PLENTY of feedback from readers, LOL 🙂 It’s not exactly like receiving a rejection letter from an editor, I know, but I’m always grateful to hear from my readers, no matter if what they have to say is positive or negative, as their opinions and suggestions only help me hone my skills even more as a writer. I learn what works and what doesn’t, and what they really want to read about. Still, there’s always been this little voice in the back of my head that keeps telling me I should give traditional publishing a try. Mostly I’ve ignored this little voice, as I’ve been too busy concentrating on the stories going on in my head instead, LOL. But last summer while reading the So You Think You Can Write blog I read about the Ooooh…Canada Blitz. Intrigued (and with that little voice telling me to give it a try) I put together an idea for not one story, but a trilogy, and submitted the proposal to Harlequin for the Romance/M&B Cherish Line. So far I haven’t heard back from them, but either way, I’m doing what I love to do. Don’t get me wrong, still hoping with fingers crossed they’ll love what I submitted, LOL, but I know there’s a process to these things. In the end, for me it’s the actual writing that counts. It’s falling in love with your characters and knowing that you did your best. It’s never giving up on your dream, no matter what 🙂

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