How to Lessen the Sting of Rejection

You worked forever on your last project. You polished it within an inch of your sanity. You’ve been waiting on pins and needles for months and haven’t heard a word. You don’t know whether to write or call. You ask every writer you know what they think you should do.

And then your submission shows up in your mailbox. Bam…no warning. Nothing. Coming back without a call can’t be good. Sound familiar?

You read the cover letter. God, it’s awful. They hate it. They hate you. They don’t want to see your work ever again.

That’s not what the letter says, of course. But that’s what you read. It’s happened to all of us. What follows is days and weeks of blues, mental self-flagellation, second-guessing yourself, an inability to put any words to paper.

How do you get past this? I’m here to tell you how I did it!

  • Read the letter, sure. Then put it away for 2 days or more. Do NOT look at it again in that time. Take some time off for yourself, get away from the computer.
  • After a couple days, the letter won’t look so bad. You’ll start to see the little rays of hope in it, the small tidbits of praise that help you settle down and re-evaluate the criticism. It’s never as bad as you thought at first.
  • If the editor said anything nice in the letter that indicates she MIGHT be open to seeing a reworked version, and if you truly believe you can do that, if you want to do that, call and ask. Keep the call short and to the point; you’re not making a new best friend. If you get the go-ahead on this, you have a new goal to work toward, something to look forward to.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Always, always, ALWAYS have more than one project out at a time, or if it’s one project, have it out to more than one place, whether it’s a publishing house, agent, contest, or a combination of all those. That way, if you get a rejection, it’s just one at a time, and you still have hope for the others. Then, if you get conflicting opinions, you know it’s not your writing, but that it’s getting to the wrong places/people. And if you get concurring opinions, you know exactly what to work on.

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