Dealing with Rejection
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
It happens when you least expect it.
You check your email.
First, your heart soars. They got back to you!
You open the email.
AAAAANNNNNDDDD . . . It's a rejection. They don't want your work.
Your heart sinks.
When this happens (and it happens to every writer who ever submits, even the really good, really successful ones), we have a choice to make.
Option one: Mope. Be sad. Cry. Binge eat your weight in chocolate.
Option two: Take it like a champ. Nod. Take a breath. Remind yourself the main things (see below). Make a game plan to move forward.
I don't know about you, but after I binge eat my weight in chocolate, option two sounds likes a good way to go.
So. What are the main things?
1. Rejection isn't personal. It sucks, and it feels like it's personal, because it feels like they don't like or want you. But that's not true at all. They didn't reject you. They rejected something you wrote. That's not the same thing.
2. Because it's not right for them, doesn't mean it's not right for anyone. Keep your hopes up. Keep the faith. You were bold enough to submit in the first place. Keep that boldness and submit one more time. Everyone is looking for something different. What you wrote will be right for someone.
3. A rejection does not mean you're not skilled or qualified. Again. They're not rejecting your or making a comment about your abilities. What you submitted simply wasn't right for them at that moment.
4. If they give you advice, pay attention to it. Those who read submissions don't often have the time to give feedback or advice, so if they took the time to tell you things to work on to get better, pay attention to it.
5. If they tell you to resubmit later or send other work to them, they liked what you sent in but couldn't take it this time. This isn't something they say to everyone who submits. "Please send me more" is not something usually put in form responses. Editors put that phrase in themselves when they want more from you. Send them more.
So yes. Getting rejected, whether it be for work you sent in, a job application, anything, remember:
There is so much more going on behind the scenes than what you see.
Editors, employers, contest judges--anyone who might send you a rejection letter is looking at so many other factors, including how you fit into the bigger picture and if you fit at all.
It's not as simple as if they liked it or not.
It's not as simple as if you are capable or not.
They're looking for so many other factors to be sure you, your work, and your skill set fit within their publication or company.
So take a deep breath. Make a game plan. Submit other places.
And, on this note, I have a favorite meme about authors and rejection letters:
When in doubt, they have heard of you. That's a win.
Keep writing. Keep submitting. Keep trying. You'll get there.
Until next time,
I'll see you then. ;)
J. J. Hanna graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Professional Writing. She's currently working with literary agent Cyle Young, learning to be a literary agent, and working as a freelance writer and editor. To hire her for editing, writing, speaking, or consulting, see the services tab. In her free time, she can be found cuddling with a cat, reading the latest suspense novel, or filming YouTube videos about the publishing industry.