Handling Rejection

Crystal Ortmann

After many months of waiting, the letter arrives. Your pulse bounds with anticipation when you see the publisher's name in the upper left corner. Ripping open the envelope, you find a printed form: "Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, it does not meet our editorial needs at this time."

The letter flutters into your lap and you try to blink back the tears. Anger may quickly follow. You are bombarded with doubts.

oldbible"I just don't think I have what it takes to be a published writer," you sigh.

Congratulations! You are a writer! Receiving a rejection letter is a part of writing. Someone said, "If you are rejected, it means you are sending your manuscripts out." One writers' organization gave a prize to the author who had the most rejections since the previous meeting. One man stood up and said he had received over 200 rejections since the last meeting. His fellow writers applauded and he won the prize. However, he encouraged the other writers at the conference because of his persistence in submitting his work. Despite rejections, he portrayed success.

Fact: Writers will be rejected.

Knowing how to handle the pain of rejection will determine a writer's success. For beginners, this is especially difficult, but learning to accept criticism and rejection is a necessary part of the publishing process.

One writer relates: "The thick envelope wasn't my contract for publishing my article. It was a rejection of what I thought was a shoo-in. After all, they had written asking me for the article."

She tells of her pain and anguish because of her high hopes. "I wondered if I really could write after that."

How to Deal with It

There is no painless way to deal with rejection. Yet, it is essential for a writer to learn how to deal constructively with it. Some ways to handle it include the following:

  • Admit your hurt and disappointment to God and fellow writers.
  • Choose to keep writing and submitting.
  • Realize that rejection doesn't necessarily signify a poorly written piece. Sometimes an article is rejected because the publisher recently published a similar one.
  •  Believe in yourself and in the gift God gave you. Get out those clips and remember what fans have said (even if that fan was your mother).
  • Don't give in to pity parties, whining, or bad-mouthing the publisher.

If your rejection letter ends with "although we cannot use your story at this time, please submit to us again," rejoice! The editor took the time to ask you to submit other pieces, so he must have liked your piece. Read through the entire letter and learn as much as you can.

Make sure to read constructive criticism.  Although time prevents most editors from commenting on why your article was rejected, occasionally they may include remarks about improvements. Read and heed those observations carefully.

Often an editor does not have enough time to do a critique unless he plans to use your piece. If he writes, "We have just published a similar work," then send your manuscript to another editor. Send it to the next editor on your prospective market list.

Remember, many well-known authors were rejected numerous times before being published. Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Alex Haley experienced rejection. God has a writing task for you--don't give up.

How will you take rejection? The choice is yours.

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