5 Ways to Deal with Rejection as an Author
Having your manuscript rejected is a gruelling, yet inescapable part of the publication process. No matter how seasoned you are as a writer, there will be aspects of your work that your publisher doesn’t agree with. When it happens, your self-esteem takes a hit and it is easy to feel demotivated from going further. However, if you only end up taking it to heart, it will be impossible to move forward. Imagine, if our favourite writers- such as Agatha Christie or Stephen King gave up, we would not be able to enjoy some of our most cherished literary masterpieces.
Therefore, since rejection is an unavoidable hurdle on the road to becoming a successful writer, it is more fruitful to embrace it. There are several time-tested strategies that you can follow. This blog is dedicated to preparing you for what comes after the unsavoury part- the opportunity to make a fresh start-
- Take time to acknowledge your feelings and process them
Writing is an immensely vulnerable act, and when we show our work to someone and have it rejected, it can be extremely painful. Give yourself permission to feel uninhibited sadness for a certain period of time. Don’t repress those feelings of guilt, shame or anger, they are entirely valid. Doing so is unhealthy and will only add to your resentment. Since you choose how long your grieving will be, don’t let it go on forever. Many writers allow themselves 24 or 48 hours of sadness and grief to pass before they move on from their work being rejected by publishers. Attend to your grieving in ways that work for you- with a sad movie and a pint of ice cream or a conversation with a friend. Once your pre-established grieving period has passed, it’s time to move forward.
- Ensure you don’t take this rejection personally
When you initially face rejection from a publisher, try not to take it personally. It’s not you they are rejecting, it’s your current manuscript. And like everything else, you can work upon it. Only when you realise that it is your work that requires improvement and not you, can you move forward. Take a cue from some of your favourite authors who took a chance and shared their work with the world- J.K. Rowling was famously rejected by a dozen publishers on her way to sharing some of the most beloved fiction of all time. Moby-Dick was rejected by multiple publishers and To Kill a Mockingbird was rejected ten times! But these writers knew better than to take it to heart. They continued to believe in themselves and their work and refused to give up.
- Recognize constructive criticism to benefit from the feedback
It is important to recognize the difference between useful criticism and useless criticism. When a publisher gives you feedback on why they’ve rejected your work, look at it, but be selective about the criticism that you take seriously. Specifically, if the feedback you received is highly negative and targeted at you as a person, such as “you write like a child,” “you will never be a writer,” or anything brutal like that, then ignore it. They are not useful to you at all as a writer. On the flip side, if you receive some criticism concerning the technical aspects of your writing or your story, then read it to see if there’s any lesson that you can take from that feedback. If the feedback mentions that the plot needs some work or that the characters aren’t developed enough, then take that constructive criticism seriously and see where you can make adjustments.
- Implement that feedback while you’re preparing your second draft
Once you’ve processed the dejection, it is important to remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. This would make you want to continue to improve upon your work instead of giving up. Honestly look over your piece to see if there are any particular areas that need to be adjusted. Perhaps, when you edit again, you decide to change the conclusion of your story or change the tone of voice. Make a list of the weaknesses that the publisher has recognised in your manuscript and edit your first draft to prepare it for success. Let the feedback you’ve received guide you instead of bringing you down. You may also benefit from having another pair of eyes examine your work. This could be an old friend or instructor from your English class.
- Join a community of writers for support
As a budding writer, remember that you’re never alone. The internet today is home to countless platforms where aspiring writers can interact and share their work. This is extremely beneficial if you’re looking for the right environment to stay motivated and inspired even after facing rejection. On these platforms, writers reach out to one another to extend support and encouragement. There are multiple benefits to this: you can share in the pain of rejection and the joy of publication and get helpful feedback from fellow writers who have been in your shoes.
Remember, having your manuscript rejected is nothing but a necessary step in the rest of your journey towards literary success. It is important to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, if you’ve recently faced this challenge, don’t be disheartened for too long. Instead, make the best out of it and we assure you that your worth as a writer will be recognized.