Feb 24 2012

Embracing Rejection Instead of Fearing It

All writers experience publisher/editor/agent rejection at one point in their writing careers, but serious writers learn to embrace that rejection and use it to improve their writing.


Here’s how:


Don’t let it hinder you


Just like that cutie in high school who never knew you existed. If only you could’ve built the courage to plop your food tray down at his table, slide in beside him and say, “Hi,” things might’ve been different. Instead, fear held you down at the table in the corner with the rest of the unpopulars as you watched big-busted Kyla sit down beside him and start a giggle-laden conversation. What, just me?


Fear keeps you from trying because you’re uncertain of the results. And the ultimate fear for writers is … what if they don’t like my writing. And instead of finishing the novel, you put it on the back burner because if you finish it then you’ll want to share it. And what if they think it sucks?


You want to get it published, but you’re afraid of submitting it because you’re writing sucks compared to other writers. What if publishers think you have no business writing even grocery lists?


They accepted and published your novel, but you’re afraid to market it because reviewers and readers could be harsher than any editor. What if they hate your book so bad the only sales you get are from readers who buy your book for the satisfaction of watching the book burn ritualistic style, and in your backyard, nonetheless?


Own up to the fact that you will be rejected one way or another, sooner or later, and make sure every time you …


Learn from it


A (sort of) nice thing to take away from being rejected by a publisher, editor or agent is that sometimes you get a valued piece of written inscription known as a personalized rejection letter. Sometimes the editor will explain why the manuscript was rejected and sometimes she will even give you pointers on how to improve it, leaving you with the decision to fix it and move on (or resubmit) to another publisher without making any changes at all. Whichever you choose, the point is … you’re moving on (or revising and resubmitting) and trying again.


You may get rejection after rejection and no explanation for it. Which isn’t unusual but if your work is continually getting rejected it’s time to change your tactics.


  • Rewrite the query letter. Sometimes tweaking the query letter is all it takes. Since the query is the first hint of your writing skills the editor encounters, it’s important that it’s just as polished as your manuscript.


  • Have someone else look over the query letter and manuscript. Sometimes it’s difficult for you to see your own mistakes and typos, or if something needs clarification.


  • Double check and follow the submission guidelines. Make sure the publisher publishes similar books in your genre, are open for submissions, accepts from author or agent, etc.


  • Be professional. No emoticons, text-like abbreviations or usage of slang in your query letter or any written correspondence between you and publisher/editor/agent.


  • If all else fails … focus on writing your next novel. Don’t spend too much time rewriting and submitting the same manuscript. Move on to your next novel which should be written better than your last. You should keep learning your craft and improving.


Know it’s not the end


Serious writers understand it’s not the end of your writing career or the end of rejection. There will be more rejection letters just as long as you keep writing and submitting manuscripts. Rejection is a huge part of being a serious writer.


Imagine plopping your food tray down next to that cutie in high school and he turns to you with a look of disgust on his face. Your worst fear, right? Hey, you knew it could happen, at least you can say you tried and that you learned to never go that route again. (Next time you’ll catch him at his locker after school.)


So embrace rejection instead of fearing it and use it to improve your writing.



About the author

Leslie Lee Sanders

Leslie is a publishing Industry blogger, freelance writer and an author of over a dozen erotic romance & thriller titles. She self-published over two dozen works of fiction since 2004. Her blog was a finalist in the first annual Goodreads Independent Book Blogger Awards in 2012, and her story Benefits of Sharing is a finalist for the 2013 EPIC Award in the short story category. Her work has been included in the following Writer’s Market books: 2016 & 2017 Writer’s Market, 2016 & 2017 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market, and the 2014 & 2015 editions of Guide to Self-Publishing. As well as online blogs like Be a Freelance Blogger. She resides in Arizona with her husband and 3 daughters.


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  1. Veronica

    True, true and true! (And how DID you know about that high school hottie and the big-boobed bimbo?)

    Great post! :)

  2. Leslie Lee Sanders

    (So in high school I wasn’t the only one.;)) Thank you! I appreciate you reading and commenting.

  3. Stacy

    Thank you for the article, as now I am a fan. I too have children and find it hard to focus on writing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never thought I could. I posted a story I’m in the process of finishing on WATTPAD and I can’t help but feel maybe I am just too old for this kind of thing, for it seems that it’s geared towards the younger writers and I haven’t had any comments to critique my work thus far. I’ve had lots of views for only been posted a month now, but I’m feeling discouraged that the story isn’t good enough, that its too much, too long, too many prepositional phrases and passive voices. As you may know, editing takes forever and being such a perfectionist, it hinders me at times.Am I alone in thinking these things?Is there a site where I can reach out to experienced writers like yourself for some alleviation? thank you in advance for any support you can offer me.~SH

    1. Leslie Lee Sanders

      You’re definitely not alone, Stacy. I’ve been at this writing/publishing thing for over ten years and I still have those moments. I think it’s a natural part of being a writer and having passion, because without the passion we would have given up at the first sign of difficulty. You should be proud of yourself for not giving up, you are part of an elite group of people whose determination will lead to harvesting the fruits of your labors. So, kudos!

      The critic in your head, that self-doubt, we all experience that. Trust me, it’s part of being creative. Every artist goes through it, but a true artist won’t let self-doubt hinder them. You have something to say, you have a story to tell, and I believe every story has a purpose. Focus on that. Let that drive you and before you know it, you will get the feedback you desire.

      It all takes time. The more you navigate the business, the more familiar it’ll become, but it’s never easy. My motto: if it’s easy you’re not doing it right. Keep that in mind while you finish your story and in time will come your desired results. My biggest lesson is learning patience, and you must have a lot of that being a writer. lol.

      I’m not aware of a central place where writers get together because I’m currently not part of any author groups, but reaching out to other authors on Facebook or Facebook groups might be a start.

      Hang in there and keep pushing on! :)
      Leslie Lee Sanders recently posted…Follow Your Favorite Authors on Amazon

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    […] Embracing Rejection Instead of Fearing It – All writers experience publisher/editor/agent rejection at one point in their writing careers, but serious writers learn to embrace that rejection and use it to improve their writing. Here’s how. […]

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