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Put a Positive Spin on Soul-Crushing Rejection



Rejection is the dismissal or refusal of an idea, proposal, plan, etc. A literary rejection occurs when a writing project is declined for publication. Rejections come in all shapes and sizes. The most common is the generic email rejection. Less common is a personalized response with feedback. The chosen ones receive an invitation to submit a few chapters, or a partial manuscript, and the golden ones receive an offer for representation. Some get no response at all. Reject the dejection you feel and salvage the belief you once had in yourself and your writing. The truth is the agent may not have even read your query.



As writers and aspiring authors, we must be careful not to take rejection personally. Breaking into traditional publishing is a grueling and tricky business. Whatever entity you are submitting your work to, a literary agent, publisher, or magazine, etc., they have the right to refuse that work. It doesn’t necessarily mean the work you’ve submitted isn’t good enough. It may mean the agent, publisher, or magazine, etc. thinks this submission may not resonate with their readers. That’s not to say your novel couldn’t succeed, it simply means whoever you submitted to wasn’t interested. Your story may not be what they are looking for at present or they may be inundated with a certain type of story and no longer wish to pursue that avenue.


Remember when vamps and werewolves were all the rage? Fiction novels on this topic popped up everywhere. Imagine, at that time, having sent a query with a novel based on those creatures. It probably would have gotten lost in an abyss of similar queries. In order to stand out in that deluge of queries, a story must have something unique and different with a twist that the agent etc. hadn’t seen before.



Rejection is a powerful feeling and a difficult concept for some to accept. Rejection feels like a kick in the gut. It can take your breath away for a moment, but please don’t let it consume you. Many successful authors were rejected by numerous agents before their book was a smash hit. For new writers, rejection may be something foreign, something never dealt with before. Writing rejection is different than rejection from someone you love, but it can be just as depressing.



Aspiring authors come across a boatload of rejection; it comes with the territory. An agent thought the writing was over-the-top. An editor considered the writing too flowery, too basic, too dull, or too long. A magazine deemed the work too speculative or too fanciful. A publisher regarded the story as cliché, overdone, too many books like it. An editor viewed the piece as too controversial.


Whatever the feedback and reasons, it can be tough to absorb and move on from. Perseverance is an essential element in a writer’s wheelhouse. To navigate the blizzard of rejections, aspiring authors must learn to trust their own judgment and proceed with determination of the highest caliber. Your worth is not measured by the opinion of others, no matter how professional they may be. Agents and editors are human, after all, and they make mistakes. Just ask any famous author who was rejected multiple times before they landed a contract.



It took me a while to come to terms with rejection and view it in a better way. I came across the above meme, Rejection Is For Your Redirection. That immediately clicked with me. This can mean varied things. For instance, it could mean I need to listen to the feedback and spend time trimming or making corrections. I am redirected to find and fix the trouble spots. It could also suggest that although a particular agent rejected my submission others may not. So, I am redirected to query other agents. We all know many publishers and magazines accept the work of celebrities whether well written or not and reject better work from unknown writers. Famous people draw readers and that translates to the bottom line, money. In this case the redirection is to a different publisher or magazine. Your redirection may lead to bigger and better experiences. Redirection may surprise you and lead to publication success.



I believe some rejections are not only valid, but beneficial. I recall a few rejections I received early in my writing career. At first, I was taken aback, hurt, angry, but once I took my ego out of it, I was able to see the validity and move forward with changes that improved my story and allowed it to shine. Had an agent accepted that initial narrative for publication or had I self-published, I would be beyond embarrassed today.



Learn to put a positive spin on rejection for your own mental health. If becoming a published author is your passion, don’t give up. Don’t stop writing. For those who surrender to rejection and despair, the answer will always be a big fat NO! No stands for next opportunity. Let the discouraged, disillusioned, and disheartened part of you go. Move froward with renewed gusto and positivity. Believe in yourself. Rejection does not mean failure. Appreciate it as a breakthrough, a milestone on the path to representation. Why? Because you have done what others will never attempt. Give yourself credit for making the effort, for putting yourself out there. That is brave. It takes guts to let others read the work you’ve put your heart and soul into. Remember, you are a writing warrior.



If you’re receiving rejections, it means you’re still in the game. You’re still trying. We all go through this rejection nightmare. It’s an inevitable part of the writing journey and road to publication. You are not alone, not by a longshot. Understanding this may help you bounce back quicker from rejection. Don’t get lost in the sea of rejection emails. Throw them in the fire or save them so when you are successful you can look back at them and see how far you’ve come. Treat yourself with kindness. Be patient. Know that your writing will improve the more you write. And don’t forget to read. The more you read the better your writing gets.




Find support and encouragement by clicking the links in this article or by viewing other articles on this website. For daily inspiration and uplifting memes find us on Facebook and Instagram.



Hi. I'm Liz Ambrico, freelance proofreader and aspiring author. I too am querying agents, editors, and publishers in hopes of becoming a published author.

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I co-founded and managed a successful author and writer group on Long Island for five years. During events with publishers and authors I learned what matters, what agents are looking for, and the benefits and pitfalls of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

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