If you want to write and have your work published, there’s one word that will get under your skin faster than any other–rejection. The road to being published, whether it’s article writing, journalism or book publishing, is a crowded one full of all sorts of bumps — one is rejection. But not every rejection letter is bad.
Everyone Gets Rejected Sometime
Reality Check: Every writer who’s ever been published has been rejected at some time. I can’t prove that, but I feel quite confident in making that statement. If you are so afraid of receiving a rejection letter you never send out your work, or ask anyone to read it, then it’s going to be very difficult-well impossible, to get published. Successful writers learn to take rejection in stride. I received a rejection letter this week that stung. I felt their form rejection letter was unnecessarily harsh, so I dealt with it in a mature way–a large quantity of chocolate. An hour later I was back writing.
Don’t Take It Personally
Let me say that again: Don’t take it personally. When an editor or agent rejects your query or submission, don’t take it personally. They are not rejecting you — only the work you’ve submitted at that time. Some rejections are easier to take than others, but it’s that editor’s or agent’s opinion and it’s an evaluation of the work, not you.
Don’t Set Yourself Up
The most common reason for being rejected by an editor, in my opinion, is querying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. You’re just setting yourself up for rejection by querying Seven, a men’s magazine, about feminine hygiene. Likewise, if a magazine has recently published on the topic you’re proposing, they’re not going to print another piece on it without a significant twist to the article.
Fazal Karim, Jr., editor for The Christian Herald said: “People write in wanting us to publish personal thoughts or motivational things that are more suited to a blog. Or personal testimonies and poetry. Anyone who reads the Herald knows we rarely publish stuff like that.”
You want to play the game – learn the rules.
Take It Like A Man
I was surfing through various literary agency websites this week. I had to smile at how many say something to the effect of: Please don’t email us and tell us we’re wrong about your submission. Or – Please don’t phone or write to us about how we’re going to regret passing on this opportunity to publish your work. My personal favourite: Please don’t threaten us. Take it like a man. If you get a rejection, move on. Arguing, belittling or otherwise insulting the editor or agent who’s just doing their job is not going to win you any points in the future, and it’s definitely not going to change their minds. Would you want to work with someone who’s just called you an idiot? And here’s something to keep in mind — editors and agents talk to each other. Word travels.
Not Every Rejection Letter Is Bad
I know, rejection is rejection. However, many editors will take a minute to give you a word of encouragement or instruction on how to make your work better. That’s gold! Take it to heart. I had one editor tell me he liked the piece but couldn’t use it. He encouraged me by saying it was publishable to be sure and try it elsewhere.
We’ve both gotten our fair share of form rejection letters. We file those in the appropriate receptacle, and move on. And you should too. (Just be sure not to resend a piece already rejected. That’s a fast track to the blocked senders list.)
Employ The Rule Of 3
Marcy and I both employ what we call ‘the rule of 3’ when it comes to rejection. If we have an idea for an article and get rejected by our first choice, we’ll try it twice more to different editors before giving up on the idea. Maybe it’s just a bad idea, or bad timing. Just move on and try something else. (Of course, this won’t apply to novels and books. Don’t give up so easily.) We write full time, and we can do that because we never have just one query out there at a time. So, it may take six months for us to receive three rejections on one idea, but we’ve sold five or ten others in the meantime. Takes the sting out of the rejection.
Have you been rejected recently? Tell us about it.