Click the image to explore the Disaster Crimes series.

NOTICE:


DISCLOSURE:

This site uses affiliate links for Bookshop.org, an online marketplace that supports independent bookstores. Chrys Fey will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

March 16, 2015

How to Handle Rejection


Something all writers eventually learn is that not everyone is going to like our writing and that is a tough lesson. The stories we write are so much a part of us that it can be painful to hear bad things about it, or to keep getting rejections for it.

Receiving form rejections are pretty painful. You know what I’m talking about...those rejections that begin with “Dear Author” and then reject you by saying your book isn’t right for them, even though you did your research and you know it’s perfect for them. They don’t offer you any other explanation than that and no advice on what you can do (if there is anything) to make your manuscript better. 


There are thoughtful editors/agents out there though who will offer advice, and if one does, TAKE IT! Take it, take it, take it! They know what they are talking about; it’s their job, so if an editor/agent tells you to fix something, they aren’t being mean, they are being helpful. Fix whatever it is and use that advice for your other stories.

Writing takes guts...guts when you first decide to write and then guts to continue writing after getting rejections. Once you get a rejection, though, shake it off and resend it somewhere else.


After getting so many rejections, you may start to doubt your story, but don’t ever give up on it! There are countless other agents/markets out there. All you need is for one of them to give you an acceptance. Just one.



QUESTION: How do you deal with rejection?


And yes...those are real rejections I've received in the past.

74 comments:

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've lost count of how many rejection letters I've gotten for all the stories and mss I've written and subbed. But I keep learning and growing, keep writing and subbing because that's what I do. I'm a writer. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It sucks, but often it's all in the timing and you just have to keep trying.

DRC said...

Ugh! I'm at this stage and so far my rejections seem to mirror yours above. I do exactly as you said. I have a long list of researched agents and I slowly make my way down the list. The thing I hate though is the waiting game...

Pat Hatt said...

Oh yeah, rejected up the ying yang. But even the most popular thing ever has some haters, you can't please everyone.

betty said...

Only rejections I would get were for jobs I applied for and didn't get or jobs hubby applied for and didn't get since we aren't writers, but I tell you I would rather get a rejection, even if it was a form letter one, then not get any notice after applying for a job and wondering what the status was.

betty

Tonja Drecker said...

It gets to the point where one almost expects only rejections, which makes it so much sweeter when that little light does shine through.

nashvillecats2 said...

Rejection is not a nice to go through, especially after all the hard work and long hours one has been writing.
In fact rejection is not a nice situation in any part of life.
Good post.

Unknown said...

ugh I know, it SUCKS. And it doesn't get any easier once you're agented, trust me! finding an editor to love the work is just as tough..sometimes I wonder why I chose this biz lol but we keep plugging away, as we should :)

Chrys Fey said...

So have I. I have all of my paper rejections in a folder. And all of my email rejections saved in my inbox. But I have no idea the total. You are a writer! Good for you!

Chrys Fey said...

I agree, Alex. I believe rejections mean its not the right time.

Chrys Fey said...

Waiting is hard. It's important to stay busy so you don't notice how long it takes.

Chrys Fey said...

Oh yeah, the most popular books have been rejected countless times.

Chrys Fey said...

Not getting a rejection letter back from an agent happens all the time and it does suck.

Chrys Fey said...

Oh yeah. I got there. Actually, I'm still there with the book I'm stilling querying. But you're right. Once that acceptance comes, its so much sweeter.

Chrys Fey said...

Nope, it's not nice or fun to go through for any reason.

Chrys Fey said...

Grrrreat! LOL! I'll look forward to that hurdle once I get an agent. ;)

cleemckenzie said...

My motto: Just keep movin' on, little doggie.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

When they say no, just say next.

Chrys Fey said...

Great motto, C Lee!

Chrys Fey said...

That's the way to do it. :)

Sarah Foster said...

I haven't submitted to any agents yet, but I did submit to a pitch contest and got one rejection email telling me how much he hated it. Yeah, that was fun. I don't think anything could ever be worse than that so I think I'll probably be able to handle agent rejection pretty well. I hope...

Mary Kirkland said...

I have never submitted to an agent but I used to submit my articles to Yahoo Contributor Network for publication and I've been turned down a few times. I just reworked it and resubmitted ad more times than not it was accepted. Don't ever let the rejections stop you because the next answer might be yes.

Carrie-Anne said...

The worst rejection I got simply read, "No, thank you." That seemed so unprofessional, after I'd gone to all the trouble of crafting a personalized query letter and using professional language. Even a form rejection would've been better than that nonchalant, casual brush-off. My other worst experience was being dogpiled by three agents in a pitchfest, who thought I wasn't a serious or good historical writer based on two six-line pitches, my characters' names (which actually ARE accurate to their time and national origins), and the fact that one of my characters escapes from a death train. Just because it wasn't a common occurrence doesn't mean it's never documented as happening or being successful! The whole point of his character is that he wants to fight back instead of passively accepting his fate! I later found out one of these illustrious agents was involved in some rather high-profile bullying of someone who gave a negative review to one of her clients' books, which makes me wonder how anyone could still want to query someone who behaved like that.

Lidy said...

Ah, rejection. What a stinging and hopeful nine letter word. I've been rejected more times than I can count. So much so that I can count my 'accepted' on one hand. Yet, no matter how bad seeing all those rejections feels, nothing beats a rejection that comes with a note stating what they liked about it, why they couldn't accept it and to try submit again with them in the future. I live for such rejections.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys .. never ever give up, be persistent .. and you obviously are - reaching the end of your agent tick off list ... so pleased they accepted your story in the end ...

Hate to think of the process .. cheers Hilary

Unknown said...

It's definitely part of the journey, that's for sure. I think at the end of the day, we have to focus on perfecting our craft and honing our voice so that we believe in ourselves despite the rejections.

Lisa Thomson said...

I've had plenty of rejections. I can shake it off because when I believe in my project, I BELIEVE like Santa. I persevere. Great tips Chrys, and this subject is important to talk about because as writers we have to take a lot of rejection!

Suzanne Furness said...

Rejection is never pleasant, it always leaves a little scar. I find the secret is to keep going and resend elsewhere. Believe it can happen.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Rejection is part of the writing beast, but try as I may, I must confess it always stings a little. It does get easier, though.

Chrys Fey said...

Oh no! I'm sorry, Sarah. People who deliver rejections need to be more mindful of the person receiving it.

Chrys Fey said...

Reworking and resubmitting is the best thing to do.

Chrys Fey said...

Impersonal rejections suck. I know agents/editors are busy, but 1-2 personal sentences would be nice.

Chrys Fey said...

Rejections suck, but those rejections (the ones that say what they liked, what needs fixing, and gives you hope) are the best.

Chrys Fey said...

Well, I still don't have an agent. haha

Chrys Fey said...

Absolutely! Never giving up and continuing to learn our craft is the cure for rejection. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

We do have to take a lot of rejection. It never really ends.

Chrys Fey said...

Believing is key. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Rejection never fully loses that sting.

Kelly Steel said...

What do I do after getting R? Stop writing till it stops stinging,

Christine Rains said...

Do you keep all your rejections? I used to keep them, but I've had so many! *LOL* Some rejections sting more than others. I usually just sigh and carry on, but other times, it requires chocolate and/or ice cream.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Back in the day when the big publishers would only take snail mail queries, the worse rejection I got was when they returned it with rejected stamped on my cover letter. I saved that one.

DL Hammons said...

Does the phrase "hissy fit" sound familiar? :)

Unknown said...

That's the part I'm working on - not taking it personally :P

Denise Covey said...

Hi Chrys. Very helpful as always. Wouldn't it be nice to receive feedback when you submit? Dream on. But we keep smiling!

I would be happy to review Witch. In blog tours there's never enough reviews about the actual book, so if you trust me..

Denise :-)

Liz A. said...

I just read a book that made me go, meh. And it's made me think that if that book wasn't for me, then my book might not be for others. It's just a matter of finding that right fit. And so long as we're philosophical about it, it doesn't hurt as bad.

Too bad being philosophical isn't always all that easy.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Yikes at the hand written one. I don't know why that one gets me, but it does. I haven't shopped a novel yet, but I'm surely racking up the rejections on short stories. I think I'm at about 45 for 13 or so stories? At a talk I recently attended, he said the more rejections, the harder you're working, and the closer you are to your dream. I choose to keep that in mind. I actually handle regular rejections pretty well, but when I'm shortlisted and get one it's always a major blow, because I've allowed that hope to build up.

Anonymous said...

Rejections don't bother me as much as they used to, but that's because I've had my fair share of successes. I know that if I submit enough, a book will find the right fit somewhere.

I remember those snail mail rejections. Many agents would write the rejection right on my query.

David P. King said...

Rejection is part of the refining process, and like you said, take the advice. I took every advice I got while querying, which ended with a better story for the next agent to look at and eventually accept. :)

Chrys Fey said...

:O Never stop writing, Kelly. There will always be rejections. Don't let that stop you!

Chrys Fey said...

I do keep my rejections. At least until I publish the story and then I delete them.

Chrys Fey said...

Rejected with a stamp? Sheesh.

Chrys Fey said...

Haha! Yes, it does. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

It's hard not too. Rejection always feels personal, but after a while the sting will lessen, though not go away entirely, and you'll be able to move on quickly after it.

Chrys Fey said...

It would be nice to receive feedback. ;)

Thanks, Denise! I'll be emailing you soon. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're right about that, Liz.

Chrys Fey said...

That's the one that gets to me the worse too. I have a ton of rejections for my short stories too. I stopped shopping them but I'm sure I'd have a ton more if I continued.

Yes, it's when we have hope when the rejection hurts the worse.

Chrys Fey said...

You're lucky, Medeia! :)

Chrys Fey said...

Taking the advice that comes with a rejection really does make our stories better. :)

Jeffrey Scott said...

I'm ashamed to admit I've never actually sent anything in. In a way I'm afraid, and I recall George McFly, what if no one likes it? Or worse. What if I hear, you're not any good. I should make this the year I actually buckle down and try to get something published. It's nice to know, rejections are a normal process. I'll try to keep that in mind. Thanks for your blog. I've been reading a lot of great information.

Lux G. said...

All those rejections in the past but look at you now! I guess it has to happen so you could fully appreciate your blessings today. :)

As many normal humans, I get hurt with rejection. But I guess my optimism gets me back on track. Try and try and try. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Don't let your fear stop you, Jeffery. You'll never get published if you don't try. I had to tell myself that. It took awhile to get over the hurt every time I got a rejection, but I grew from it. And growing from rejection is a beautiful thing. Go for it!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Lux! Those old rejections don't even bother me now. But I do still get them.

Nick Wilford said...

Form rejections are maddening because you've got no idea if they dismissed it out of hand or if they were close to accepting it. I think feedback, even if it's only one line, is gold dust!

sage said...

Scotch.... not really, but I have certainly received my share of rejection letters, but have also received many acceptance letters and some great rejections with suggestions that have made the piece much better.

Donna McDine said...

Yes, rejections hurt! I try my best to take it as a learning experience. To me submitting your manuscript is like one's college essay it either resonates with the reader or it doesn't. There is no rhyme or reason. I'd be delighted to host you during your VBT. I just submitted the form!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Chrys,

You are so right about rejections. WE DO KNOW that our stories are a good fit for them...why else would we waste our time sending a query to them?

I've certainly had my share of rejects, but NOW I am actually getting PERSONAL reject letters and I do appreciate them and heed their advice. BUT also remember this is THEIR opinion.

I had a rejection from a TOP TOP TOP NY agent. She liked my premise and would have wanted to read more BUT because my portage was a male and my book is Y/A she had felt it was too hard a sell to push it out there. She wasn't in LOVE with it enough to break down the stigma of female y/a portags.

So I put her advice on the back burner. Since then I had been to two SCBWI conferences, the HUGE one in NYC in February and a mid west regional a few weeks ago. Guess what? ALL liked the male portag and though it was new and fresh. AND the market is READY for it.

So you see, this industry is VERY subjective and as you had said KEEP at it and don't give up!

Anonymous said...

Don't give up! Great advice, Chrys!

Chrys Fey said...

Exactly! Feedback lets you know they really looked at your work and considered it.

Chrys Fey said...

That's good!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you so much for signing up, Donna! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Some advice doesn't work for your stories and that's up for us to decide. I like that you're not going to change your protagonist to a female. There does need to be more male YA protagonists.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Lori!

Colleen said...

I love posts about dealing with rejection, since it's pretty much a neverending thing as a writer. I think what I dislike the most is when people don't respond at all. And it's even worse if it's a friend who offered to read something of yours, and then you just never hear from them again. *sigh*

But my skin is way thicker than it used to be.

Chrys Fey said...

My skin is thicker too. I think that's the good thing about dealing with so much rejection.