There’s no doubt about it. Rejections suck. Even though we know we shouldn’t take them too personally (this is a business, after all) it’s difficult not to feel like you’ve taken a body blow when you read the words “Your story does not meet our requirements at this time.”
It’s tough enough when the rejection comes in the form of a polite form letter. But what about those not so polite rejections? Toni V. Sweeney (www.tonivsweeney.com) writes:
"Even now, I still remember my worst rejection. It came from a magazine editor concerning a short story I had submitted. He literally tore it (and me) to pieces, said it was asinine, the characters were a knock-off of two on a current soap opera (of which I was completely unaware since I had a day job and wouldn't watch soap opera anyway) and even ridiculed the clothes they wore. I came very close to crying as I read that letter. I couldn't believe someone could be so vicious. I put that story away for almost 20 years before I submitted it anywhere else. The day Amazon accepted it for their Amazon Shorts section, I wanted to do nothing more than send that editor a note and point out that apparently Amazon had better taste."
Toni indeed had the last laugh. You can read the story in question, entitled “For Love and Adler’s Brain” by clicking here.
Author Sandy Sullivan (http://www.romancestorytime.com ) was rejected because she had too much of a good thing:
"I think my biggest rejection was for my first novel, Cowboy Love. I was told by one publisher that it "had too many twists and turns. It wouldn't hold a reader’s attention." That novel went on to be my first published piece with Siren and was a top 10 best seller for them last year."
Lilly Gayle (http://www.lillygayle.com) writes: “I once had an agent tell me in his rejection letter that I should quit writing because no one was publishing silly little romances any more and that’s why he was no longer taking submissions for slush he couldn’t sell. I wondered if he even read the 3 chapters his website said to submit under the category: Romance-actively seeking … Good thing I’m stubborn and not prone to giving up easily.”
And then there are the truly bizarre rejection stories. All Kari Thomas (www.authorkari.com )wanted was guidelines:
"Back when Silhouette was about to launch the "Nocturne" Series I sent a short 2 line query (snail mail back then) asking for their guidelines. A month later I received a THREE page Rejection letter ---correctly addressed to ME---telling me ALL the faults of my submissions and that they would politely have to refuse it. Those 3 pages were FULL of details about my manuscript's faults. I just sat there shaking my head and muttering: But I didn’t submit ANYTHING to them! I hadn’t even WRITTEN the book yet!"
And another bizarre story from fellow Prairie Chick Helena. At the last minute, she submitted a short story to a local literary magazine:
"I keep a careful record of my submissions and the results. Well, imagine my chagrin when I opened my file to record the submission (after it was sent) and discovered that I had previously submitted the same story to the same publication and it had not been accepted. I almost emailed them to withdraw it. I decided to let it be and see what would happen.
Well, this time the story was accepted. So I went to the launch of the publication, and discovered that they had printed only the first half of it, and it was not labeled as an excerpt (there was an option given for submitting an excerpt from a longer work, but my story was within the word limit of the category). I was not informed that they would do this, or asked to choose an excerpt which I wouldn't have done. Believe me, this was worse than a rejection!!!"
Occasionally a writer will get a “good” rejection letter, like this one that Stephanie Beck (www.stephaniebeck.net) received:
"I actually just got a rejection that made me think. The MS is great (I know, I'm slightly biased but I knew it was good) and the editor agreed but questioned the way I had labeled it. I thought it was a contemporary romance, a bit spicy but quite mainstream. She said it was too mystery minded to be romance, pointed out the actual page counts of which parts were romance building compared to which parts were mystery building. It showed me that she read it all and put a lot of thought into the rejection. I appreciated that fact so incredibly much. … If I had to get a rejection, it was a good one."
Most writers agree that a rejection letter that actually tells you (nicely) why you’ve been rejected is preferable to the standard “Your work does not suit us at this time” form letter.
What is the best way for a writer to deal with rejection? Be professional and remember to keep a cool head. It won’t do your writing career any good to go online and slam those who have rejected you.
The best advice for authors receiving rejection: don’t stop writing. Ashley M. Christman (http://ashleymchristman.webs.com) says “The only tip I would give any up and coming authors is to keep trying. Keep writing and never get discouraged.”
Do you have an unusual or inspirational rejection story? How do rejections affect you? Do they kick the stuffing out of you or do they make you even more determined to succeed?