Dramaquill's All Things Writing

February 16, 2008

Handling Rejection

We all know how it feels to open the mailbox and see that SASE sitting amongst the bills and coupons.  Another rejection!

Writers who are serious about getting published will see plenty of rejections in their mailboxes, most likely before they ever receive their first acceptance.  Rejections can be extremely frustrating and have put an end to many an aspiring writer’s career.

But let’s think about what’s behind these rejections…

 1.    Some rejections occur because the writer didn’t know the market
        well enough and subbed inappropriate material

2.    Some rejections occur because the writer sent out a piece that
       wasn’t tight enough or just wasn’t quite ready to be subbed out

3.    Some rejections occur because the publisher was inundated with
        submissions and the writer’s manuscript had to compete with
        an incredible amount of material

4.    Some rejections occur because the publication had already printed
       something similar to what the writer has sent

5.    Some rejections occur because the editor didn’t feel strongly
        enough about the piece to take on the project

And I could go on and on and on and on with valid reasons that writers get rejected.

The bottom line is this:  rejection stinks!

So as a writer, make sure to study your markets, send out ONLY your best work and then let it go and start working on something else. 

Rejection isn’t personal.

Rejection isn’t necessarily an indication that you are a bad writer.

Rejection isn’t a reason to give up.

If you get personal comments from an editor, read them and really evaluate if what they say can help you improve the piece before you send it out again.  And rejoice in the fact that the editor took the time to actually comment – that’s a good sign.

My favorite rejection, yes I have a favorite, was from a magazine.  The editor said:  “I enjoyed reading your work and regret that we do not have any more room for rhymes in this issue (referring to the theme to which I wrote an appropriate piece).  Instead of feeling badly that my piece didn’t get accepted, I studied their future themes list and tried again.  The second time, the third, and the fourth, were all rejections. 

But…the fifth time I was successful and will have two pieces coming out with that publication in 2009, one in May and one in December.

How do you handle rejection?


  1. I’ve collected well over 1500 rejection slips in my 20+ year career and it still bugs me. I’ve come to see the submission process as something akin to buying a lottery ticket. NO MORE. Since I’ve started my blog, I rarely submit, preferring to publish my work myself. I’ve had over 20,000 visits to my site in less than a year–that’s a lot of readers. These days, thanks to new technologies, publishers are obsolete. They just haven’t figured it out yet. More and more writers have though…

    Comment by Cliff Burns — February 17, 2008 @ 1:10 AM | Reply

  2. You certainly make some great points, Cliff, and I suspect this whole subbing/rejection/acceptance scenerio is a personal journey for every writer.

    I don’t agree that it’s as random as buying a lotto ticket, though. It often feels that way, but good writing DOES make it through. There are a lot of obstacles facing writers, but I truly believe that too many (and I’m not pointing any fingers) self-publish because they tire of the exhausting and frustrating journey of the traditional publisher.

    Blogs ARE great – writers of all kinds can reach massive audiences and after all, we write to be read.

    Thanks for commenting.


    Comment by dramaquill — February 17, 2008 @ 12:06 PM | Reply

  3. I am procrastinating as I sit here with an article due tomorrow. I have all the info, have even written pieces of it but before plunging in for three or four hours and getting it done, I have decided to see what other writers were up to at the moment. And was glad to find your blog. And offer my two cents on rejection.
    I wish sometimes I had saved my rejection slips; they make good notecards, are a study in one’s own personal writing history, etc etc. But I threw them out. And keep going forward.
    It’s been ages since I’ve submitted fiction primarily because my corporate position and my freelance articles for regional publications keep me hopping. I found some topics I enjoy writing about and have focused on those areas. If you can find one or two or three editors that you like, who make you work better, smarter, finer and they like your work to begin with, go with that. Develop your writing. Writers don’t always know what that is until they come across good, really good editors. Keep an eye out for such relationships and cultivate them.
    And Dramaquill is absolutely right – work that material – hone it, spell it right, make it so sharp until you break through that wall where you’re sick of it and you see it really coming together. Then send it out.

    I do love Cliff’s idea of writing his stuff on his blog. This had not occurred to me. I use my blog (like so many) as a quirky journal. I may have to smarten up and “publish” there. And maybe I’ll get some readers there! That, in itself, would be inspiring.

    Back to work.

    Comment by oh — February 17, 2008 @ 12:19 PM | Reply

  4. It’s great to hear from other writers because the whole rejection scenerio is something we all deal with if we’re trying to get our work published.

    It’s great you’ve got regular articles that you write. If it’s a steady gig, then you don’t have to be subbing out your articles elsewhere. That surely cuts down on the rejections.

    For some, the rejection slips serve as the impetus to keep plugging away. I know it was that way for me. Seeing rejections from the publication I wanted to crack kept me trying new angles, new topics and subbing to other themes.

    But I’m sure for some writers, a pile of rejections could be the thing that makes them turn away from subbing out to traditional markets.

    Blogs are a great tool for all of us writers and I think we all have to decide to what degree we want to be published.

    Comment by dramaquill — February 18, 2008 @ 2:22 PM | Reply

  5. […] Dramaquill says that rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a bad person. “ Rejection isn’t a reason to give up. If you get personal comments from an editor, read them and really evaluate if what they say can help you improve the piece before you send it out again.  And rejoice in the fact that the editor took the time to actually comment – that’s a good sign. […]

    Pingback by 4 Ideas on Dealing With Rejection | Bizzy Women — September 8, 2008 @ 10:19 AM | Reply

  6. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

    Comment by sandrar — September 10, 2009 @ 5:13 PM | Reply

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