Monday, January 27, 2014

Handling Rejection Letters

The best way to grow stronger is during a struggle. 

Who likes this process? But if we work through it, we will come through it, and discover things about us we didn't know were there.

Chicago Man / / CC BY-NC

Since seriously beginning a freelance writing career almost 2 years ago, I have had 4 magazine submission rejections and 1 acceptance. With each rejection, I've learned this about myself: 
  • Discourages easily
  • Takes criticism too personally
  • Sees rejection of my work as a rejection of me
  • Impatient with methods
The fact that I can list those 4 things means I have worked through some weaknesses in me! I've embraced the process of discovering myself at a deeper level, which will only help me be a better writer.

In the months I've networked with other writers, I have learned that rejection is part of the package. Not everyone is going to like what I write. Knowing that and how I feel about it are two different things. I had to set aside my feelings and accept the cold hard fact: move on to the next submission. 

So, after receiving a rejection email this morning, I did what any good writer would do. I typed in my search engine: "handling rejection letters from publishers".

I landed on a wonderful site, full of rejection but devoted to inspiration! The first thing I read: "Rejection is an imperative test of one's character".

True. Good character is important to me. My feelings are real, but they would be set aside in order to keep writing and not give up. 

But there was more:
  • After 5 years of continual rejection, the writer finally lands a publishing deal: Agatha Christie. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more
  • Louis L'Amour received 200 rejections before Bantam took a chance on him. He is now their best ever selling author with 330 million sales.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she decided to self-publish 250 copies. It has now sold 45 million.

As I've been allowing my rejection letters to teach me, I've discovered their worth. The writing process has not only helped me be a stronger, mature individual, but they have helped develop my writing voice.

Do you have any rejection stories to share?


After raising and homeschooling her 8 children, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts -


Joan Y. Edwards said...

Thanks for your great advice on handling rejection.

Celebrate you
Never Give Up

Karen Cioffi said...

Kathleen, great insight into writing and rejection. And, very motivating. Imagine if those authors gave up after 20, 40, 100 rejections, or after a certain amount of time!

Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 144 times before it was accepted.

Perseverance is the name of the game!

Heidiwriter said...

Ditto Karen. This is absolutely true--do NOT give up after one, five, or even 50 rejections! Keep on perfecting your craft and putting it out there.

Kathleen Moulton said...

Thanks, ladies. Never give up. I recite that often!

Magdalena Ball said...

We all know about JK Rowling's 12 rejections. Grisham, Golding, Joyce, Stein - there are many great authors who've been rejected. It's part of the process.

Melinda Brasher said...

I hope these rejection stats are all true, not because I'm happy any other author faced so much rejection, but because it gives hope to all of us.

I just try to think of each rejection as evidence that I am indeed submitting. I have a lot of rejections under my belt, but I also have a growing number of acceptances. You can't have one without the other.

Kathleen Moulton said...

Thanks, Maggie - "part of the process". When we go into it understanding that it makes all the difference.

Melinda, I like your point: "...each rejection as evidence that I am indeed submitting."

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I agree with Melinda. I always considered rejections as part of the process. It's an indicator that you are on the road to publication.

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