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How do you cope with rejections?

Writer-readers

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1Aldrea_Alien
Jun 15, 2010, 4:54pm Top

Of the people who try to get either an agent or a publisher (sans agent), surely there must be a few who get discouraged by their rejections, especially if it's one after the other.

So how do you cope?

2andreablythe
Jun 15, 2010, 7:21pm Top

Look at it, take a deep breath, and then say, "Okay. On to the next."

There may or may not be another step in there, which would be a re-analysis of the work I'm submitting, to see if it can be improved in any way. (It usually can.)

3GaryBabb
Jun 15, 2010, 8:46pm Top

It is difficult to get an agent or publisher, and it takes time and many rejections. Sorry, but rejections are a fact of life if you want to be a writer. The trick is "Never Give Up!" It has taken me years and several books, but I now have both. Expect rejections and keep writing.

4Aldrea_Alien
Jun 16, 2010, 2:39am Top

Blythe025: That sounds similar to me, though I stopped trying for a while to re-write and the 'On to the next' is more of a "Where to now?"

GaryBabb: Rejection isn't a fact of life if you want to be a writer; it's a fact of life, period. I tend to remind myself that it happens to every author, even the well-known ones. So I ask, did you ever hear that tiny voice whispering 'why bother?' for even a fraction of a second? If so, what made you push it aside and continue? If not ... well then you've a thicker skin than I.

5GaryBabb
Jun 16, 2010, 4:16pm Top

# 4

Yep! Every time I get a rejection or bad review. I have heard that voice screaming at me, "Why bother?" I just remind myself that Agents reject 98 % of everything they get. Reaching that 3 % target, in all honesty, requires luck, but I believe you make your own luck in many ways. Getting a rejection letter just tends to make me more determined to find out WHY.

Make sure your work is as good as you can make it, seek honest criticism to improve it, then pour your heart into the query letter. The query letter is probably the most important part of attracting an Agent or Publisher. They are so busy that they seldom invest much time in making a decision. If you can't hook them with the query letter, they won't look beyond.

Finally, knock on plenty of doors. Sometimes the work just doesn't match them, but there will be others that love it. Don't give up.

6adeptmagic
Jun 16, 2010, 6:42pm Top

Here's the thing. Even when you have an agent or publisher, frequently the rejections do not end. My agent couldn't sell my first book. Wouldn't even try to sell my second because she felt it was fatally flawed, and has so far rejected three drafts of my current WIP. I have two friends who were dropped by their publishers this year, and numerous ones whose publishers have either folded or consolidated so that my friends' work no longer fits their lines.

Of course I, and they, get discouraged. But it's not as if I am going to stop writing, even if I never sell anything, so I try to let it go.

7LauraJWRyan
Jun 16, 2010, 6:59pm Top

Once I got past the angst of the first few rejections, I eventually learned to see it as what it is...it's business, it's not personal. Keep that in mind and it gets easier to move on...

8MinaKelly
Jun 17, 2010, 4:41am Top

Got a rejection last night, from Take-a-Break (they pay several hundred pounds for some very short stories - it's a market I'd love to crack!). It was a form letter, photocopied signature and all, but it was pretty friendly and polite. I've got confidence in the story, so I'll try shopping it to a few other magazines, and at the same time write another for Take-a-Break. To be honest, I quite like rejections - I find them more motivating than acceptances, and I think you can tell a lot about a business from its form letters.

9MarysGirl
Jun 17, 2010, 1:11pm Top

I belong to a writer's group (celebrated 20 years together recently) and we share our rejection letters as a matter of pride - "I'm still out there pitching!" Personally, when I get a rejection, the story/article/query letter goes out the next day to whoever is next on my marketing list. Persistence pays. If your product is good, you'll find a market. And if it's non-fiction you should be able to resell a few times.

That said, I've had much more success with my short stories and non-fiction than with my novels. I had an agent who basically did nothing for three years except follow up on the leads I had developed, then he refused to take my second novel. I began to doubt my self and stopped working on two manuscripts. I just recently decided to take up the cause again and landed a deal with a small publisher. As I said, persistence pays. If you're not pitching, no one will catch it!

10Aldrea_Alien
Jun 17, 2010, 7:11pm Top

Honestly, I feel the pitching part is harder when you're at the bottom of the world. No one nearby touches you and though I've seen some agents overseas say they're got authors from my area; I've either never heard of them, or they don't do what I do. Posting queries costs so much that I've given up sending via mail, but I very aware of how choosing to only send my email restricts my options.

11AOMeara
Jun 24, 2010, 1:59pm Top

I don't.

12ronmcmillan
Jun 29, 2010, 11:55am Top

Gary is right. Rejections are part of the game - and, for most of us, part of a learning process. I have suffered more than my share of them, and only now, years later, do I realise that they manuscripts that I was SO sure were wonderful, were in fact a long way shy of wonderful.

So I thank my lucky stars for a lot of those rejections, because the alternative - having fatally flawed, under-polished books see print - doesn't bear thinking about.

ron mcmillan
www.ronmcmillan.com

13Thresher
Edited: Jul 14, 2011, 9:13pm Top

Agents reject 98 % of everything they get. Reaching that 3 % target, in all honesty, requires luck...

Stick with writing and DON'T consider a career in mathematics! :)

On rejection: After getting shot down by a woman, one finds (at least I've found) that editorial rejections don't have much emotional impact. Try asking out the Prom Queen. THAT will thicken up your skin pretty fast.

14amysisson
Jun 29, 2010, 5:34pm Top

Or trying being an actor (I'm not, one of my in-laws is). At auditions, people tell you to your face you're too short/too tall/not pretty enough/too flat-chested/nose too big/you name it!

At least in writing the rejections are impersonal and not in-person.

15GaryBabb
Jul 2, 2010, 12:45am Top

# 13 Stick with writing and DON'T consider a career in mathematics! :)

Laughing ... point taken.

16LheaJLove
Jul 6, 2010, 10:41am Top

being rejected by both men and agents/editors... I have found both to have an emotion impact.

I'm a wuss.

I don't handle rejection well. I usually fall to pieces. Put the work in file folder and work on it 1-12 months later.

In the mean time, I write something else.

17MyneWhitman
Jul 8, 2010, 1:05am Top

One just have to learn to take it on the chin and move on. I burns for a few days or so though.

Myne Whitman

18WandaduPlooy
Jul 17, 2010, 12:04pm Top

I don't !!!

19zette
Jul 18, 2010, 2:45pm Top

A rejection just means that a specific reader didn't connect with your story. Editors are readers first, you know, and they are what gives a certain flavor to a magazine or publishing house. There can be so many different reasons that the story didn't make it that it's silly to take it personally. It can be anything from having read a story like it a few days before to the editor just having a bad day. You may have tripped across a personal dislike that you can't even begin to guess at, like the name of a character that happens to be the same as an ex-spouse. Yeah, they should be wise enough to see those problems in themselves, but when you read hundreds of submissions a week, sometimes the reasoning can become blurred.

Of course there are times when a story is rejected because it is badly written. I'm assuming that everyone here takes the time to edit, and maybe even get an outside critique or two, before they submit. I can tell you from the experience reading slush for a small press/ebook publisher that the vast majority of rejects are handed out for badly written material and for people who just plain don't look at the guidelines before they submit.

Here's a secret: An editor's first job isn't to find a gem to publish. The first job is to reject the easiest stuff to get it out of the pile. That means people who don't know the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. are going to be the first to go. Along with those people are usually the ones who have obviously not looked at the guidelines and followed them. Does an editor want to work with someone who is that lazy or who thinks that the guidelines can't apply to them because they're so great? Not the impression you want to make.

After that, it's going to be the stories that appeal to them as a reader that get the best chance.

The number of stories that sell on the first submission is miniscule. Get over it and move on to the next place on your list. Then get back to work on the next story. The more you write, the better you will become at it and the better your chances of writing the story that hits the right publisher at the right time. It takes both talent and luck!

20MarysGirl
Jul 21, 2010, 12:37pm Top

>19 zette: "The first job is to reject the easiest stuff to get it out of the pile. That means people who don't know the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. are going to be the first to go. Along with those people are usually the ones who have obviously not looked at the guidelines and followed them. "

Absolutely! I'm a "first reader" for a print SF/F/H magazine and the vast majority of rejects are for poor writing (basic rules and story telling.) I also send out generic rejects, because there are always a few writers who will write back and dispute (sometimes quite viciously) any specific feedback you give them. On two occasions in several years, I liked the story enough to ask for a rewrite (once to change the story from second to first or third person and once to cut a couple thousand words.) Both authors agreed and both got published.

21zette
Jul 21, 2010, 1:03pm Top

20 -- When I read submissions, I used to send out a few notes with some rejections. That's partly because I own a huge site created specifically to help writers, and it seemed the right thing to do.

I had to stop because of the disagreeable emails, too. It's amazing how rude and stupid some of these people can be. Publishers do talk to each other, discuss problems and sometimes give names.

Always be polite. Even if you think the editor has made a stupid choice, be polite!

I still read submissions for Vision: A Resource for Writers, but the nonfiction authors seem to be better about submissions and rejections, at least for this ezine.

22mmarkel
Jul 21, 2010, 2:02pm Top

I saw an interview with John Updike, less than a year before his death, and he mentioned that he was pleased that the New Yorker had recently accepted a couple of his stories (he had submitted four).

23jacodyives
Aug 17, 2010, 7:03am Top

Our writer's group had a motto--until you've been rejected 98 times you're as good as Stephen King. Rumor had it he was rejected 97 times before he sold his first piece. Take it for what it is, and ask yourself this question: "Was I rejected because my work wasn't good enough or did I submit to the wrong person?" Rejections don't often give a reason, which is terrible because you're left to your imagination and the truth may be far from your worst thoughts.

24GaryBabb
Aug 17, 2010, 1:02pm Top

# 23
"Rejections don't often give a reason."
What is really sad is the fact that those rejecting have been trained NOT to give a reason. Far too often the writers want to argue about their reason for rejecting. Sadly, that ruins it for everyone.

25amysisson
Aug 17, 2010, 4:45pm Top

^24 I agree with you completely -- but fortunately, in the field of science fiction and fantasy (at least for short stories), a lot of the editors and slush readers still give a wee bit of feedback.

26SarahBarnard
Aug 20, 2010, 11:51am Top

The first one hurt, after that it was more about "Not for you then, who's next?" and I'm still looking.

Scathing reviews on the other hand..... Oh they cut like knives.

27cavanaughlee
Aug 29, 2010, 11:31am Top

I would drink a glass of wine, smoke a cig, and cry. Kidding (kinda). Really, rejections can inspire you to keep writing. If you Google "new authors + rejections," there's a few good articles about all the now-uber-famous authors who were rejected a zillion times. James Patterson, in fact. Just keep writing!

28gilroy
Aug 30, 2010, 7:15am Top

I'm starting to look at them this way:

Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing that he was rejected 97 times before his first sale. As long as I don't break that number before my first sale, I'll be happy.

29PatronQuo.com
Sep 4, 2010, 2:56am Top

Message removed.

30GaryBabb
Sep 5, 2010, 9:53pm Top

Oh my! The cursed Flag!

31theapparatus
Sep 7, 2010, 8:23am Top

Makes me want to hop over at their site.

32PatronQuo.com
Sep 7, 2010, 1:24pm Top

Message removed.

33andreablythe
Sep 7, 2010, 1:43pm Top

>32 PatronQuo.com:
I believe the flag was for innappropriate self promotion rather than inflammatory remarks.

34ajsomerset
Edited: Sep 7, 2010, 1:52pm Top

This amounts to spam. I'd also remark that entering your site's logo as a cover for books in your library is pretty questionable behaviour.

35MinaKelly
Sep 7, 2010, 1:52pm Top

I don't know about anyone else, but the random friends request didn't sit well with the blatant self promotion. You're not even a member of the group. This group especially is sensitive to promo efforts after being swamped in the past, but I don't think you'll find anywhere on LT that likes having their discussions diverted to your site on such a tenuous link.

36PatronQuo.com
Sep 7, 2010, 3:13pm Top

Message removed.

37ajsomerset
Sep 7, 2010, 4:09pm Top

It is not your logo on your profile that is at issue. It is the practice of entering as a book cover an image that is not, in fact, a book cover, but is instead the company logo of your organization.

Incidentally, I can find no mailing address or identifying info on your site to suggest who is behind PatronQuo.com. That wouldn't fill me with confidence if I were looking to get involved. In fact, I'd be wondering why that information isn't out in the open.

38PatronQuo.com
Sep 7, 2010, 5:58pm Top

Message removed.

39ajsomerset
Sep 7, 2010, 6:18pm Top

Your error is in thinking it's acceptable to enter books here as a means of leading people to your enterprise. This is what people here find obnoxious. That's why your posts and your reviews are being flagged.

40PatronQuo.com
Sep 7, 2010, 10:29pm Top

Message removed.

41Thrin
Sep 8, 2010, 1:55am Top

"All advertising is good advertising". Don't know who originally said it, but might the above be a case in point?

42megwaiteclayton
Edited: Sep 8, 2010, 2:38pm Top

I've got two novels published (the national bestselling The Wednesday Sisters, Bellwether Prize finalist The Language of Light , and the forthcoming The Four Ms. Bradwells - which Random House's Ballantine imprint will publish in March). But I - and every author I know - faced SO MUCH REJECTION along the way. (Some more than the Steven King mentioned 97.)

I host a blog of book-published, often award-winning or bestselling authors sharing their stories. I have the most amazing guest post from Julia Glass this morning, "The Not Quite Yes" - about her "overnight success" after many YEARS of writing. It's one of the most inspiring posts I've gotten, and I've had posts from many amazing authors. It's at http://megwaiteclayton.com/1stbooks/?p=2007

Do read it (and the other Wednesday guest-author posts) if you have any doubt at all that you just need to keep setting the rejections aside, and writing, and submitting.

Meg Waite Clayton
www.megwaiteclayton.com

43GaryBabb
Sep 8, 2010, 3:25pm Top

# 42

You were correct. Julia Glass did provide a very interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

44MyneWhitman
Sep 8, 2010, 11:53pm Top

I sent out a few queries recently and the rejections have followed. I now consider them par for the course.

45Alaric.Adair
Oct 12, 2010, 1:42am Top

I keep a list of the people who reject my work. I'll be sending them non-invitations to the champagne celebration party at the Hilton hotel when the book(s) top the best seller lists. ;-)

46ElizabethBraun
Oct 29, 2010, 9:15am Top

I feel better now :o) If Steven King had 97 rejections my 40 and counting isn't so bad after all!!
It's the asking for more chapters/info, creating a sliver of hope, and then being rejected that smarts, ouch!

47sprucely
Oct 31, 2010, 9:28am Top

I say, "Oh, sh*t," or something like that. File it away, mark it in the database, and move on.

If every publisher rejects it, I start asking myself why. And hopefully the answer is not that my work sucks, but if you're/I'm happy with the work, and have put the time to develop it to it's "final" stage, then I just move on.

I stopped taking rejection personally a long time ago. Unless they write something on my submission, or a ripped scrap piece of paper that says, this sucks (true-ish story). But then, I think how awful it must be to be such a miserable ass.

And as long as I have the budget for endless stamps, or time and vision capabilities for endless online research and e-submissions, I just keep going and move on to other pieces in my huge file of unpublished work.

Even the best and most accomplished writers get rejections.

Or you could always go the self-publishing route, or better yet, put together your own press with your writer peers.

Good luck,
M

PS A glass of wine or brandy and a cig while soaking in a bubble bath is my go-to solution.

48K.J.
Nov 1, 2010, 9:07pm Top

When I was a fifteen-year old boy visiting Northern New York for a summer, several older boys took me under their wings to 'show me the ropes.' One of them went by the name of Peck, and he was a rather muscular, handsome guy whom most of the girls ran after. He also played in a band that was considered decent, so his popularity was at a rather high level, for a nineteen-year-old. He and his friends were determined to show me how to 'get a girl.' Peck's advice:

"You ask ten girls and one of them is going to say yes. Even if one of them doesn't, you ask until you hear yes, and ignore everything else, because anything but yes isn't worth thinking about."

It was good advice then, and it still is, today.

49LheaJLove
Jul 14, 2011, 8:25am Top

KJ... that was the most perfect thing I've ever read. I don't know if it could be a personal essay, or a short story... or if it should stay a short. But that was pretty perfect.

Thank you...

50BeckahRah
Edited: Jul 21, 2011, 6:23pm Top

Just wait until you start hoping for rejection emails, because so many agents don't even bother responding anymore. ;)

Courage! It happens to us all, but eventually you'll get there!

51Aldrea_Alien
Jul 21, 2011, 7:37pm Top

The 'no response' is annoying. You can never be sure if the silence is due to that or because your query didn't get there. -_- Though, I've sent out to one who had an auto-response so you knew the email was received.
Seriously, how hard can it be to do that or reply with the standard form letter?

52randyattwood
Jul 26, 2011, 10:25pm Top

I used the experience to create a little scene in a novel soon to be published called, SPILL

...Having his master’s meant he could teach in a junior college environment, although they eschewed the word “junior” and had replaced it with “community.” Into this community he found he did not fit. Bored housewives, dullards thinking community college would be easier than university, and single mothers trying to better themselves by gaining an associate’s degree. Grammar and composition classes were extraordinarily boring to teach. And reading their essays! Egad, what drivel they could produce. He then made two fatal errors. The first was to volunteer to take over the creative writing class when its teacher was found dead in his apartment, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, no doubt caused by the thousands of rejection slips he had used to wallpaper his room...

53Thresher
Jul 29, 2011, 11:14am Top

The passage seems to suggest that there is something wrong with bored housewives and single mothers trying to expand their minds. I hope I'm mis-reading.

54DaiAlanye
Apr 3, 2013, 12:12am Top

Two years late I ask, has anyone read Rejecting Jane?

55Scott_West
Apr 10, 2013, 3:46pm Top

I just got my second rejection slip from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, yesterday. I expected to be more let-down than I was. Whatever. Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury have been featured in its pages - I knew I was shooting high, so maybe it wasn't a huge surprise to get the rejection. My biggest disappointment was that this one was not personalized like my first one was. Oh well. Next!

56mtmiles
Apr 11, 2013, 12:01am Top

Scott,

Rejection is all part of the process for those who dare to write. The only way to avoid rejection is to give up on being an author. Unfortunately, personalized rejection correspondence is becoming increasing rare.

57nobodhi
Apr 11, 2013, 8:53am Top

When I send out a batch to a magazine, sometimes an editor will accept ones that I felt were " filler " rather than the ones I personally really liked.

There's some kind of lesson in that. And it helps in the cat-and-mouse game of publishing.

Personally, I reject the vocabulary of rejection, submission, and all that. If they turn something of mine down, it's their loss ... or the time wasn't right ... etc

In book publishing, I'm finding that "No" is getting commoner: the industry seems to be contracting.

58bitser
Edited: Apr 16, 2013, 2:24pm Top

It depends on the source. If my agent or an editor who has published my work rejects something, that hurts. I sulk for a bit and then work on something else. Sometimes I return to the rejected piece, sometimes not.

Having started publishing as a poet (an isolated, unfashionable, non-U poet with few connections) I got so many rejections that it hardened me considerably. One starts ranking rejections: it seemed like a victory to get a signed rejection note from the poetry editor of The New Yorker (Alice Quinn) that actually said something nice about a poem, although not right for us, etc.

There were enough acceptances, some from unexpected quarters, that my confidence survived. I've never had a problem wanting to write, or with writing itself, but maintaining my faith can be difficult at times.

59Dzerzhinsky
Edited: Apr 16, 2013, 11:18am Top

(me) I don't have to, fortunately. I write for my own satisfaction and my own pleasure, and am thus free from the tossing tides of the marketplace. I'd sure hate to have to rely on today's publishing scene for my three-squares a day or a roof-over-my-head. Burrr.

60TKKrug
Apr 16, 2013, 1:02pm Top

Grit your teeth, use any criticism offered to better your work, move on to the next, keep hoping!

61nacuba
Jul 20, 2013, 8:33pm Top

It took me twenty years to publish my first novel. I had full-time jobs and had to write around that schedule, but I consider that period my apprenticeship. I revised my manuscript at the word level at least five times, and the whole manuscript went through so many revisions, I can't count them. While I was writing the book, I also sent stories and essays out, mostly being rejected, but with some luck now and then. When people would ask nervously if I'd published my book yet, I'd say, "No, I'm still working on it, but as long as I know I'm getting better as a writer, I'm okay."

62oldstick
Jul 21, 2013, 4:09am Top

I couldn't. After the first few I decided to self publish and find out that way if anyone wanted to read it. I realised it was aimed at a particular market and was better suited to libraries than bookstores and it turned out I was right. It may only give someone a couple of hours of pleasure but I'm satisfied.

63KarliciaLewis
Jul 27, 2013, 4:17pm Top

I had to get into the mindset before I began searching for an agent or publisher that no matter what answer I got I would suck it up, applaud myself for the courage to step into such a vulnerable situation, and remember that the worst thing they can say is "no". So the phrase "the worst they can say is no" is my anthem when shopping my book to others. It's simple, but it's proved to be a successful method for me. I no longer get extremely nervous when submitting book queries, etc.

64SteveBarr
Sep 25, 2013, 10:53am Top

I did not start writing books until later in life, but I sold my first cartoon to a magazine when I was in 7th grade...followed by another sale that same year. As a young cartoonist, I ended up accumulating an incredible collection of rejection slips from some of the finest publications in the world! It actually filled an entire four-drawer file cabinet. Instead of letting it get me down, I used the rejections as an incentive to keep trying, to prove those people wrong. And, I used to brag that I had one of the world's greatest collections of letterheads from all of the best magazines and book publishers. For anyone involved in the creative arts, rejection is a fact of life. You can't let it get you down, no matter how often it happens. Because eventually, you're going to get a sale. And then another. And then another.

Just keep plugging away. Don't give up. And, remember that if you do accumulate enough rejection slips from famous places, you can have a room in your house with some of the most unique wallpaper on the planet.

65WadeGarret
Nov 1, 2013, 8:18pm Top

Simple...

NEXT!

Do yourself a favor and research how many famous authors were not only rejected a dozen or more times, but how with each new project, they still get rejections.

66Max_China
Dec 13, 2013, 3:36pm Top

Think about Robert the Bruce and the spider . . . If there is a way, you'll find it in the end. As 64 said, don't give up.

67AyaWalksfarAuthor
Jan 12, 6:20pm Top

Let me see:
I throw myself on the floor, kick, scream, wail; get up and stomp about then pick up the rejection slip and paste it to my wall. (LOL!)
All of the great writers that I enjoy have faced numerous rejections before they were finally published, then a long hard road until they were finally "discovered". They are my heroines and heroes, and I try to emulate their strength of purpose.

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