“Thanks, but we’re going to pass on this one.”
The dreaded words. Whether through email, snail mail, or said aloud, they are the words of doom.
They didn’t want your manuscript. Or article. Or poem. Or short story.
The long and short of it: you have been rejected.
So what do you do? What do you do when your heart stops beating and shatters into a thousand pieces? When you feel like the world is going to end?
Don’t worry! I have ten healthy coping mechanisms for you to try.
- Sob uncontrollably.
- Throw away everything you’ve ever written.
- Realize you’re a worthless failure.
- Murder the editor who did this to you.
- Run away from all your responsibilities and live under your friend’s bed.
- Realize that your failure means you are not worthy of friends. (Also the cops will find you at your friend’s house.)
- Live in a box under a bridge.
- Use the last of your money to buy thirty pounds of chocolate.
- Drag the chocolate back to your box.
- Eat your feelings until you explode in chocolatey glory.
You can realize that rejection happens to everyone. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected 12 times. Stephen King’s Carrie was rejected 30 times. The agency I work for receives dozens of rejections every day. (If you need proof, check out my friend and coworker’s post here.)
Realize rejection doesn’t necessarily mean there was something wrong with what you wrote. Sometimes, it just doesn’t fit the publisher, magazine, etc. to which you submitted. When I worked for a publishing company, I had to send several rejections that had nothing to do with the quality of the writing; we just didn’t publish those genres.
Realize that writing is subjective. Maybe it just wasn’t to that editor’s or agent’s taste. For example, I’m not as familiar with the sci-fi genre, so I’m more likely to pass on a sci-fi manuscript.
Realize that your manuscript is flexible, and you can always edit and then submit somewhere else.
Realize that even if your manuscript actually is the most god-awful excuse for writing that was ever written, it’s not the end. You can write something else. You can study. You can get better. And you can try again.
Finally, realize that no matter how many times you’re rejected, or even if you’re never published at all, that does not define you. No amount of rejection in your writing makes a single dent in your worth.
You are a priceless, worthwhile, amazing person whether you’re ever published or not. And don’t you forget that.