So They Said…No Thanks – Dealing with Rejection

I’ve been asked many times over my short career how I deal with rejection. At first I thought, why are you obsessed with knowing? I mean, it’s no fun being rejected. You know? Who likes to talk about that kind of stuff? It’s painful and plus, it can be taken extremely personally. But it happens and often.

In this day and age of self-publishing, some authors ignore the rejection and simply put the book out themselves. There’s nothing wrong with being headstrong and believing in your work.I believe in mine, but I also love my editors. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

So I thought about the idea of rejection some more and realized this isn’t something to be swept under the rug or ignored.  We all deal with the not so fun things in life differently, but if one can come up with a way to make it a little less yucky we want to share it. We’re all playing for the same team–the team called being an author.

So, how do I deal with rejection? Speaking as I’ve had it happen quite recently and many times over the years, here’s my recipe for dealing with the big N-O.

First, I tend to read the email until it’s unreadable. I have the things memorized. This is what’s not quite up to part and this is what could be improved. It’s a little harder when there’s nothing other than the dreaded thanks but no thanks. It’s a little more difficult figuring what to work on when there’s nothing really spelled out.

Second, I tend to fire up the iPod and listen to the angry, loud, heavily-laden guitar tunes really, really, LOUD. I’ve got to get that pent up frustration out somehow (and since these things tend to come when the Cabana Boys aren’t around…). It works.

Third, I do one of two things. I either set the manuscript aside and let it percolate for a day or two. I don’t let it fester too much longer than that or I just chuck it for good and that’s never good. Or, if I do decide to work on it I do it right away. This has meant some really, really late nights twiddling, tweaking, and no cabana boys are involved. I’d love to say this has worked wonders, staying up and fixing. In reality, some of the sessions have produced some great passages while others just died on arrival.

Isn’t that what writing and creating is? Some really works while some doesn’t. What works for one publisher might not work at all for another.  What you thought would originally rock in the story could in all honesty fall flat. Can you work with the rejection or just quit?

Now that I’ve gotten all philosophical on you… I try, even though it’s really hard sometimes, to remember that this story might not be right, but it can be right. Someone will be willing to make the diamond shine—even if it has to be me before I send it out into the world again. You have to do what you have to do if you want to get past the hurt of rejection and find the sweet victory in those fantastic words, “I’d love to publish this work with you. Here’s your contract.”

In closing, my advice is this: give yourself time to be hurt. It’s going to for a little bit. Then keep plugging away. Giving up is the ultimate rejection. Keep going, keep believing, and you’ll get there. You’ve got my vote!


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