Bo Bennett said that rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.
If you have experienced rejection as a writer you are well on your path to getting published. There are many ways to see rejection, and depending on your level of confidence and general temperament, it is your choice how you will take it.
Rejection might simply mean that your style is not a good match. Or it can mean that someone else made it through the door before you. Rejection can also mean that you need to work on your writing.
All writers out there have been rejected before being given a chance. Even after building a strong portfolio you will still get rejected sometimes.
Adjusting your expectations and realizing that this is part of the process is necessary.
In all professions, rejection is part of the process to grow, learn, and fine-tune our skills.
Rejection will feel like a punch in the gut, especially at the beginning.
Being a writer is a dream job. However, everything we write has a part of our soul and we’re presenting it to the world. So when we receive a rejection it can feel that someone is rejecting us, and not just the content.
However, in order to become a published writer, you need to first submit some work. Here are some steps to help you handle your emotions if literary agents and publishers are declining your work.
1. You Did It
You just finished your book. A masterpiece that took years of sleepless nights and a lot of hard work. You need to take a moment and marvel at what you have achieved. Most people will never manage to do this!
Most people have a hard time putting together a grocery list.
Acknowledging the final product in your hands is very important because you are allowing yourself to take credit, to be proud, and prepare for the potential storm ahead.
2. Submit Your Work As Many Places As Possible
I would like to classify this step as a preventative measure.
Let’s take for example the book you just finished. You have worked months or even years on your masterpiece and now you are ready to submit it, hoping that it will be recognized for its brilliance and authenticity.
You will have a much better chance getting at least one positive answer if you submit it to as many agencies as possible. The response might just be to review it, not an immediate offer of a contract, just to be clear.
3. Do Your Research
This is also a preventative method but it comes from the mouth of a publishing agent.
A friend of mine who works as an agent, during our talk he said that publishing is not a game of chance, insisting that 90% of it has to do with the quality of the content. He went on to say that the majority of work he rejects is because of three reasons; which include bad writing, not a genre his agency can represent, or simply it is a story told a million times the exact same way.
He went on to tell me to have some foresight and do some research on what is trending, and if I can, to focus in that genre or at least include some popular elements in my writing.
He then added that an author has better odds to get a positive response by simply knowing some information about the agency he or she is pitching, has a clean final manuscript, a great story, and the book includes elements that are currently trending. He closed by saying, “even though you would expect the above points to be implied, most writers do not do their research and submit unfinished, unedited manuscripts.”
4. Understand that Rejection is Part of the Process
Everyone in the world is entitled to their opinion. One person’s negative opinion on your story or writing style, cannot possibly represent everyone’s opinion.
Popular authors have said it multiple times that rejection was ample in the beginning, and even after they made it in bookstores, they experienced rejection on new content they created.
Many say that it is best to think of rejection as a step closer to the opportunity you have been waiting for.
5. Seek Feedback
If you have the opportunity to receive feedback along with the rejection, use it! Take time and see why your work was rejected.
Sometimes it is something simple and out of your control, but most of the time it is something you can work on and improve.
Seek feedback from friends, family, or even random people you can pay, to give you their honest opinion on your work. Remember that the first draft of anything is a far cry from the actual final product that you are supposed to be submitting.
6. Let your Work Rest
If your work has been rejected, before making any rushed decisions, allow some time to pass and work on something else for a while.
Then go back and reread your work. It is incredible how many things you will spot, highlighting that you want to improve upon. Time can clear our heads and allows us to gain perspective on something that we have created.
7. Show up and Keep at it
This is generally good advice for most things in life.
Many writers love their rejections slips, as they claim that it shows they’re on the path, and are willing to walk it regardless of the obstacles.
Therefore, keep writing, write about the rejection if you need to, but do not stop writing.
8 . If They Did it, So Will You
A lot of authors before you have walked down the same path of self-doubt, rejection, agony, growth, and finally receiving an opportunity to get published.
It might not be your first book, that you wrote with love and all your heart, it might not be that second novel of a beautifully written story, it might be the third novel about cats that don’t know how to wear ties properly. The one you like the least, that finally gives you your chance.
And even though this article used books as an example, the same rules apply to writers who work in marketing, freelance, poetry, and even screenwriting.
The process to become a published writer is a puzzle and there is no one size fits all solution.
Generally do your best, and remember that the first draft you hold in your hands, is just the story you wrote for you. You need to refine it, work on it, get feedback, and improve before sending it off to literary agents.