Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 14, 2010

Eight Tips For Coping With Rejection

Yesterday, I listed Agent Janet Reid’s honest numbers on the amount of manuscripts she rejected in the last six months of 2009.  Today, I realized that viewing those numbers could be a real bummer for you.  It would be easy to get depressed and want to give up, especially, if you were one of those she rejected.  Heck, even if you weren’t, I’m sure you are sending out submissions and I know how hard it is to open up a letter and read, “You have written a very good book, but it isn’t right for me.” 

Jerry Spinelli says he could have wallpapered his whole house with his rejections. 

Not me, I threw all of them away, when I was in one of those rejection blues mood. 

So what do we do?  How do we stay positive and focused and not end up yelling into the phone like the woman in the picture?  Here is what I came up with: 

  1. Use the Susan O’Keeffe method.  In case you don’t know Susan, she is a very successful author.  One day she shared what she tells herself.  “I may not be the best writer in the world, but I know I am going to be the most persistent writer in the world.”  These are words that have really paid off for her.  I think they could pay off for you, too. 
  2. You make it happen.  Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.  Make a plan to work on the weaknesses or decide how to work around them.  Then use the Susan O’Keeffe method and keep submitting. 
  3. Make sure what you are submitting is your best work.  Don’t be so eager to submit that you just print it out and submit.  That will only set you up for rejection and too much rejection sets you up for giving up.  Get feedback from other writers and let your masterpiece sit for a while before sending it out.
  4. Look for small successes while you are on your journey.  Set writing goals.  Keep them small.  It could be something as small as pledging to write 200 words each day or spending an hour revising or maybe you have a goal to submit something and you do.  Accomplishing small goals will make you feel good.
  5. Don’t compare yourself with other writers you know. Understand that your road is not the same.  If you are lucky your road will be short, but it could just as easily be filled with bumps and potholes.  A lot depends on being in the right place at the right time.  Accept the journey and remind yourself of Newbery Award winning author, Jerry Spinelli, who wrote for fifteen years, wrote five unpublished novels during that time, before making his sixth novel the charm.
  6. Find a few good upbeat writer friends.  Your other friends will not understand the journey.  Call your writer friends when you are looking at the glass as half empty.  But remember you won’t keep those writer friends if you are always depressed and complaining.  You need to be able to give them a pep talk when they need it, too.
  7. Attend a writer’s conference or workshop.  You will find lots of inspiration there, plus new writer friends.
  8. Submit to magazines – they provide additional publishing opportunities.  Submit to contests – they are a way to boost your morale, try for some money and prizes and sometimes they can end up with a contract.  Even if it doesn’t, contests can get you noticed.  Consider submitting to blogs.  Blogs need content and they are a good way to get your name out there, plus you will be honing your skills while working on your book.  You won’t receive any money, but it will give you a lift, a sense of accomplishment and help you through those rejection blues moods.

If you have something you do to stay positive that could help others, please share it here.  Writing is a journey and the road is a lot more fun when you share, help others and make friends along the way. 

Kathy


Responses

  1. Thanks, Kathy, it’s good to be reminded to focus on improvement and different opportunities rather than let rejection crush us completely.
    Great post for the new year!
    Maureen. http://www.thepizzagang.com

    Like

    • Maureen,

      It is so easy to get crushed and that applies to everyone who writes – published or unpublished. We have to stick together.

      Kathy

      Like

  2. I just read yesterday that Ray Bradbury has the same wallpapering sense as Mr. Spinelli. From what Bradbury said to Snoopy, he really did paper his walls with those rejection letters. I don’t mind joining that company.

    Like

    • Yousei,

      Just keep up that positive attitude. It will pay off in the end.

      Kathy

      Like

  3. Thanks for that inspiring and reassuring post!

    Like

    • Karen,

      My pleasure. We are all in this together and I am just trying to help. Hope you visit again.

      Kathy

      Like

  4. I wonder how much longer we will even get rejection letters. The trend I am finding, with editors anyway, seems to be “if you don’t hear from us in X number of months, you can assume we are not interested.”
    As is stands now, I am somewhat happy to get the rejection letters, at least I know my work was read and considered.

    Like

    • Linda,

      That is so true. And probably a good idea for another post. So many of the writers I know just never hear anything back, which never gives them any closure. I think it will only get worse in that regard.

      Kathy

      Like

  5. Thanks for the prod-in-the-back post. You’ve helped me create a daily mantra for myself.

    I will be persistent. I will keep submitting. I will sleep on mss before posting and I will laugh in the face of rejections.

    It’s good to know there are others out there going through the same frustrations.

    Like

  6. Thanks for the post, Kathy.
    Funny, I just wrote about rejection in my blog.

    http://www.betsydevany.wordpress.com

    I agree that attitude and perseverance goes a long way.

    Betsy

    Like

    • Betsy,

      That is funny. Sorry I have been so out of touch. The computers and other things blowing really took a lot of my time palying around with repairs and buying parts. The the tooth problem and bone grafting was just icing on the cake. Are you going to NYC for the conference?

      Kathy

      Like

  7. When I first started to seriously write, I e-mailed DJ McHale and asked him if he had any “Tips”. “Be tenacious.” he wrote.

    Like

    • Persistent – Tenacious – both words to remember. Looking forward to dinner.

      Kathy

      Like


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