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Authors – 5 ways to on how to deal with rejections


This guy really isn't coping well.

This guy really isn’t coping well. Don’t be this guy

For those that write, rejection should be a fairly common event. You write a short story, or a book, send it off and invariably it’s rejected. Or, you see a submissions call, write a piece specifically for that and which you can’t envision any other market, and you’re rejected. This article is, as the title suggests, about how to deal with rejections.

This week I’ve had two rejections and I’m waiting to hear back on a job interview. As you can probably tell, my writing in no way influences my income so …

Writing for a living isn’t for everyone
If you’re writing for a living and you don’t know how to cope with rejections then I’d suggest that you might well be in the wrong trade. If you’re an author that’s making money despite being rejected i.e. you’re selling either more than you’re being rejected for, or you’re selling stories that are making enough to cover the number of rejections then fine, I’d suggest you look at the other points below however.

But, if you’re only just starting out as a writer and you’re getting rejections and they’re having an effect on your income and your personal life, then I truly do think that maybe you should look at getting another job to support your writing. I’m in no way, shape or form saying that you should quit writing. What I am saying, and let’s make sure I’m being very clear about it, find some other source of income until you’re a well-established author that doesn’t need to worry about whether or not the next story pays for the mortgage.

Social Media isn’t a good place to complain when you fucking get fucking rejected!
I see this far more than I’d like to and, as an editor, seeing people absolutely freak out about being rejected makes me wary of approaching them to submit. Social media has become a part of people’s lives and some how, people now think that they can rant and rave with impunity. They. Can’t. It’s very simple, the internet keeps everything, and if you’re unlucky enough, there are a number of sites specifically set up to actually store websites. That’s right, everything that was on a specific website is stored, by day, month and year. People can then go to these websites and roll back the clock on any number of other websites and use them to catch people out on lies. Or just to see how bad websites looked a few years ago.

Either way, if you want to be a professional writer, ranting and raving about receiving yet another rejection is … not professional. No doubt I’ve done that too in the past, but I’m reformed, hence the reason I’m writing this article. If you want to be taken seriously you cannot, cannot, curse, swear, bitch and moan about being rejected. Ever.

Replying to the editor in a negative manner is not a good idea.
Again, I fully understand why you might want to do that. You spent hours crafting that masterpiece and the editor is a complete fucking dick for rejecting you. But, if you reply snarkily to them, you are also a dick. Editors are people. A lot of editors that I know are also authors. They understand the work that goes into every submission they receive, especially if the submission is so close to acceptance they can almost taste it.

And so, if you write an email informing them as to how wrong they are, they are going to take it personally. They will then mark you down as being a troublemaker and not worth the effort. They may even – and this is a shocker, I know – speak to other editors about the email they’ve just received. And then you’ll be on a whole number of lists and will have to work very hard indeed to get off it.

If you have to reply to them, thank them for looking at your rejection and leave it at that. Don’t prompt them for feedback, they’re far too busy. Seriously, a lot of editors have to read slush piles on their own time, not whilst actually at work. Which is pretty shitty really, but that’s life. It also explains why it can take so long for a yes/no to come through.

Look past the no.
It’s very easy to receive a rejection letter/email and just see the sentences that start with ‘Thank you … segway into ‘but I’m sorry to …’ and basically mean ‘No.’ However, not all editors will always just say no in many more words. Some editors will say, ‘Please submit again’, or even provide some pointers.

This is when a rejection goes from being a blind submission to an open door. Don’t immediately bombard them with re-written versions of your story (unless that’s what they’ve said), but look at the other submissions windows they have and submit to them with other stories. Please submit again, means just that! They liked your writing. You were that close to getting in, but something stopped them from accepting you. Use those words to propel your writing to another level and keep submitting.

Every rejection is a step closer to acceptance.
Sounds twee. Quaint almost. The sort of thing an old lady in a grimdark book would say before the hero punched her so hard in the face that she swallowed her false teeth and choked to death. Whilst her house burned down around her. And, I hate sounding like that old woman, but it’s true.

I’ve submitted twice to Grimdark magazine. The first was a straight ‘G’day mate, whilst I’m putting another shrimp on the barbie, you can fuck off’ (They didn’t really say that, but they are really Australian and it was a very fast ‘no’, I just thought this was funnier). The second submission went through to final reading stages etc. and was a very close no. See. Improvement. I took on board what I could glean from the first failure, tried again and got closer. They have actually accepted an article for their blog, and I currently have a third submission ‘The Young Die Old’ in their slush pile now.

The same happened with Abaddon. The first time was a ‘no’. The next submission window I actually submitted three pitches. This time two got to the final editorial meeting before being turned down. However, they’ve also suggested how I might tweak those pitches and re-submit. I did that, and I’m waiting to hear back. There’s a lot of waiting in publishing. Back in the day, very few people wrote books or wanted to be authors. Now everyone’s trying to get in on the game. Shame innit?

Hopefully these five tips will help you cope with rejection. They’re not rejecting you, the person, the author, they’re rejecting a story that may well have been millimetres away from acceptance. To summarise;

Writing for a living isn’t for everyone
Social Media isn’t a good place to complain when you fucking get fucking rejected!
Replying to the editor in a negative manner is not a good idea.
Look past the no.
Every rejection is a step closer to acceptance.

Now go and write something!

Follow Matthew Sylvester on WordPress.com

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