Dealing with Rejection

Dealing with Rejection

September 9, 2018 1 By Shan Ellis Williams

I’ve come to know my postman quite well over the last six months, not because I’m a voracious flirt which can be true when the occasion arises, but because of the sheer volume of post he’s carrying to my door daily. We’re on first name terms since Christmas, I know he likes whisky, and he knows that most of the letters I receive which aren’t bills are from publishing houses.

How many of us can honestly hold their hands up and say that they’ve been rejected? There is both a thrill and trepidation when that letter with a well known publishing house stamp on the front, being a realist you know that it’s most likely going to be a big fat no, but there’s always a part of you that goes, “maybe this time”. And as you sit there mulling over whether to break the seal on the pristine white envelope that’s going to make you or break you, who hasn’t thought “this could be the last day I’m a want to be author”?

And then when you open the letter, swearing to yourself that you won’t be disappointed, and start reading:

Dear ……

Thank you for submitting your manuscript for your perusal. Unfortunately we cannot consider it at the moment….”

And your heart falls through the floor. The manuscript you spent three or six months on laying there on some ones’ desk possibly unread. And will possibly end up going through the shredder unread.

There is some sick and twisted insect in a writer’s brain that makes us scoop ourselves up off the floor and try again. How do you actually deal with this rejection?

By keeping it real

The majority of publishing houses receive between 40 and 60 manuscripts daily; I know for a fact that most of these that don’t contain typing errors and warrant a read are actually read. A rejection letter is not a personal rejection or a reflection of your work as an artist; it’s usually a culmination of factors.

Perhaps some edits are required in the script; most letters will offer useful critique as to why you weren’t successful this time around, so it’s always worth endeavouring just to be professionally critiqued.

Sometimes it’s the market itself, if you’ve written a teen shiny vampire love story in the last few years, I doubt you will now get printed unless you’ve managed to get Robert Pattinson himself to pose naked for your cover.

I made the mistake of sending a horror novel to a romance editor, who very kindly sent it back saying “personally, I could have read this and really enjoyed it, but since we only publish women’s romance it would look out of place in our title range”.

You may have simply sent in your manuscript at the wrong time of year or at financial year end, when they have run out of money to consider new scripts. There is a huge amount of luck required to be in the right place at the right time. It’s got to be serendipity of some sort.

I’ve not found the right cosmic order yet obviously!

So, don’t eek out revenge on an editor for rejection, don’t plot a horrid death for the poor person stamping “reject” in bold red type on your pristinely printed word document. Don’t send query letter back, be professional. Remember at all times that you wrote the script for a reason, if you get a good editor who sends you in depth critique, then listen to that and edit. And then send it to the next publishing house on the list. The first Harry Potter novel was reported to have been rejected 14 times. I bet their now kicking themselves!

It’s far too easy to take everything personally, believe me after the fiftieth or so letter, you get used to it! If you’re cut out to write, then your skin will need to be elephantine, if not, then there is always a nine to five that needs to be filled. You also need a huge sense of humour, and a liking for discworld. I truly believe the witches have my golden thread just biding their time until I’m just about to pass away, and someone grabs my dusty manuscript and goes, oh I forgot about this…

After all said and done an author was once an unpublished author dealing with rejection.


Dealing with rejection as a writer

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