Dealing With Rejection
Rejection stinks. There’s no two ways about it.
Here are three things you can do if you have received a rejection from an agent or a publisher.
1) Mourn. Yes, mourn! It kinda hurts so allow yourself to feel hurt. But! Put a time limit on that. As in a week. Then consider yourself done with mourning what was.
2) Stick it in a drawer for three months, minimum. Let it go and move onto other things (another good reason to work on a lot of stuff at once).
3) After the magical three months (or more) have elapsed, take out the file and the rejection slip.
Consider a few objective things: (a) was it the wrong genre for that publisher? Then be more careful next time and keep track of which publisher accepts which kinds of works. (b) was it not submitted correctly? Then take the time to do submissions right. Do they want an attachment? Then send one next time. Do they want just the pitch and three chapters? Then send that. Do they just want the pitch? Then only send that. You get the idea. (c) Did you submit to more than one publisher when this one said they didn’t like that? Then don’t do that again.
Also consider subjective things: (a) did they not understand what your story is about? Then you need to work on your pitch/blurb. A writers’ group is a great place to do that. (b) did they say they had trouble getting through your story? Then you need to edit that sucker. Never mind if you already did. Edit again. And consider working with a pro editor. They are pricey but that is for a good reason. If you absolutely cannot afford a professional editor, then you need to hack away at your work yourself. So determine whether scenes or characters can be combined, as a start. Go back to beta feedback (you did work with beta readers, right?) and figure out what you hand waved away and work on what they told you to do. Because they were probably at least partly right. (c) did they say it just wasn’t for them? Then figure out why. Maybe they got three other moose detective stories before yours. Or maybe they’re closing the imprint you queried to. Maybe they’re just swamped.
Most importantly, keep the fires burning. Keep works in five categories:
- Idea stage. You’re just kicking this one around.
- Outlining stage. If you don’t outline, then consider this the ‘serious ideas’ stage.
- Rough draft writing stage. Get it on paper or pixels.
- Beta reading/editing stage. Polish that prose and alter your work in response to feedback.
- Querying stage/publishing stage. If you’re self-publishing, then this is just the publishing stage.
The mourning, etc. I listed above? Call it stage #5a, or #4a if you really need to go back into the guts of the piece.
Your writing is worthwhile, even with a rejection. You can do this.