Got Rejection Dejection?

Are you singing the rejection blues because your book (or poem or screenplay) has been rejected by a publisher (or magazine or production company)?

Here are some things to consider when your writing project has been rejected.

1. Are you being realistic enough about the quality of your writing? Giving your essay or play or whatever you’ve written to your mother to read and having her hand it back to you with a gold star doesn’t cut it. You need an objective critique from someone reasonably knowledgeable about the genre in which you’re writing. Is there someone you trust to give you open and honest feedback? Is there a writing group you can join? If not, think about forming one yourself. One hundred percent open, honest comments may sting, but they’re invaluable in helping you become a better writer.

(Is it best to query all your target agents at once? — or just a few to start?)


m-l-rowland-author-writer     zero-degree-murder-cover-novel

M.L. Rowland is a mountain Search and Rescue volunteer and writer.
Her first novel is ZERO-DEGREE MURDER (Jan 2014, Berkley), the first
in her Search & Rescue mystery series. Rowland lives with her husband,
Mark, and their chocolate lab, Molly, on the Arkansas River in
south-central Colorado.


Keep in mind, though, that there are different types and levels of feedback. It’s up to you to decide how valuable the feedback you receive is and whether to actually incorporate the suggestions into your work. Will the changes actually make your essay or article better? Or will they just make it different?

2. Have you sent out your work before it’s really finished? I know a terrific writer whose work was rejected because he got impatient and sent it out before it was truly finished. Once your work has been turned down by someone, he or she may offer to read other things you’ve written, but chances are, that’s it. You’re out of the running as far as he or she is concerned. Be patient. Be meticulous. Be relentless. Rewrite. Rewrite again. And then again.

3. Are you sending out your work without carefully proofing it multiple times? Does your submission contain grammatical or punctuation errors or typos? Have you addressed the person to whom you’re sending your work as “Mr.” when it should be “Ms.?” Are you submitting an article about mountain biking to a parenting magazine? Is your book proposal or screenplay formatted incorrectly? Are you sending electronic query letters when the magazines’ or agencies’ guidelines explicitly specify otherwise? If so, you’re showing the editor or publisher or whomever that you’re not taking your own writing seriously enough for them to take you and your writing seriously in return.

4. A bad attitude will get you nowhere. If and when you receive a rejection, be gracious, be polite, be humble. You want to be able to submit future work to that person. Plus, it’s just plain good manners.

(How can writers compose an exciting Chapter 1?)

5. Writing is an ongoing, never ending learning process. That means take a class if you can. Read as much as you can about the craft of writing. If you think you can’t afford to buy writing books or magazines, forego buying that new sweater or DVD, or ask for a book or magazine subscription for your birthday. Or get them from the library. Read as much within your genre as you can. And read other genres. And the classics. (You heard me.) In other words, read in order to become a better writer.

6. If you don’t use it, you’re gonna lose it. Like any other skill, you need to practice your writing. So write! Every day!

7. A rejection doesn’t automatically mean that your writing isn’t any good. In fact, remember that when you receive a rejection, you’re keeping good company. F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, Beatrix Potter, Ernest Hemingway, and Ray Bradbury all had their work rejected at some time in their careers.

Dr. Suess’ first book, “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,” was rejected by twenty-seven publishers before it was finally accepted. His books, including “The Cat In The Hat,” “Green Eggs & Ham,” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” have gone on to sell over six hundred million copies. Plus Dr. Suess (whose real name is Ted Geisel) won two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and a Peabody Award.

8. To borrow from Churchill: Never give up. Never never never never give up.

Whether this information is completely new to you or simply a reminder of what you already know, I hope it provides that spark, that idea, that little nudge that motivates you, pushes you forward, keeps you going, and helps you get your work represented or produced or published.

Keep writing! Happy writing!


This guest column is a supplement to the
“Breaking In” (debut authors) feature of this author
in Writer’s Digest magazine. Are you a subscriber
yet? If not, get a discounted one-year sub here.


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