Dealing with Rejection: How to fall and hop right back up

Dealing with Rejection: Changing your mindset

Ice skater Photo
Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Being a writer not wanting to get rejected is like being an ice skater not wanting to fall. The thing is, ice skaters know they’re going to fall. They learn how to do it in a way that they can hop right back up. We don’t talk enough about the falls we take as writers in the publishing rink.

How can we avoid falling as often? How can we make sure our fall from rejection isn’t long term or permanent? These attributes are essential to becoming published in the future.

After many years of hearing “no” in sales, and being trained on how to think about it, I’ve learned a few things about dealing with rejection which I believe will help you too.

Change your thought process 

The time and effort required to create a manuscript is so involved that many writers refer to their finished work as their:

Book Baby

And while it is important to keep this kind of close commitment to your story during the creation stage, when your manuscript is complete, you must kiss your baby on it’s papery cheek and set it free to see what it makes of the world. 

As soon as your baby is out there you will realize that customers are going to buy your baby as a product. Of course, this is a very sterile way of viewing your manuscript, and I hate to do this to you, but it’s important to stand back and. . .

1. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes

Before sending your manuscript to an agent or an editor, pretend that someone else wrote this story. How does it change your perspective?

  1. What sets it apart from the other products on the market that are like it?
  2. Does the title give you a hint about what the book is about?
  3. Does it sell itself
    1. Is the story actually good?
    2. Is it catchy?
    3. Does it make the customer want more?
  4. Did the author put an appropriate amount of time and effort into their manuscript or are you still looking at a first draft?
  5. Would you pay the $15-$30 retail price for this book?
  6. Would you invest in the series (time and money) to read it, if applicable?

Now that you are the customer, if you see flaws, then the manuscript isn’t ready for submission yet. It’s okay to give it some more incubation time.

Need help? Check out our Writing Resources to get all of the information you need to get published. When you’re done there, check out this article for additional ways to assess your baby’s readiness.

Baby Book Graduate
If yes to all of the above, your baby is ready to face the world.

2. Know your Agent/Publisher

Many times you can avoid falling by eliminating the “no” before you even begin.

Be selective.

If you’ve written a big-eyed heart-warming romance, don’t give it to the agent that only represents bodice-rippers. Research agents and editors that represent stories you write, build a list, and only submit to them.

3. Try to get Rejected

I dare you.

Make a goal to receive fifty “no’s,” and promise yourself a great reward for when you’re done. Of course, follow the submission guidelines and do your best. If you’ve done all of the above though, I doubt you’ll even get to your goal.

And that’s not a bad thing!

Day at the spa reward
Don’t let a “yes” get you down.
Enjoy that reward early!

This way, instead of cringing at every email, hoping to see a “yes,” you’ll look forward to the “no’s.” Either way, a “yes” or a “no” will get you closer to your goal.

4. Get Comfortable

“The more comfortable you become with being uncomfortable, the more you grow.”

Nikki Harmon 

Writing in general is uncomfortable. It may feel like you’re falling constantly, especially at the the beginning, because you are put in a lot of new situations:

  • Learning how to write a story no matter how short or epic it may be
  • Allowing others to read your writing
  • Getting critiques
  • Making changes to your manuscript
  • Putting your work in front of agents and editors
  • Acquisitions boards
  • Deadlines
  • Marketing
  • Self-promotion
  • The general public reading your published book
  • Reviews
A woman lying upside down off of a table
All of it–uncomfortable.

However, the better you are at putting yourself into those uncomfortable situations the faster you can hop up and develop your little book baby into a more appealing end product.

5. It’s not personal, until it is

King of Hearts
Photo by Crystal Berdion on Unsplash

Not everyone is going to love your baby as you do, but instead of being upset at each rejection, think of it like you’re flipping a deck of cards. You’re going to have to get through a few before you find the royalty. Don’t give up if your first card reveals a two of spades. Keep flipping, keep asking, keep querying.

But when your book is picked up, as we discussed in this article, it becomes personal.

Editors pick up your manuscript because they LOVE it, not because they think they might be able to ‘make it work.’

Vanilla Grass

And you know what, those rejections are really good (even though it might not feel that way) because you want someone lifting it high above their heads, soaring across the ice, just as proud of its beauty as you are. Am I right?

But what about the feelings?

The hurt and pain that comes from rejection is real. It’s okay to feel those things, but you get to choose how you process those emotions and how long it takes to work through them.

The more you can change your mindset, the easier it is to work through the emotions as they come. Then the more you fall, the thicker your skin will be. Maybe someday rejection won’t bother you at all. But now, when it’s real and it stings, what do you do? 

Sad man on couch
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Advice from other writers:

  • Talk about it with fellow writers and critique partners who understand what you’re going through.
  • Keep a list of moments, people, and accomplishments to remind yourself that you have what it takes and read it often.
  • Have another project in the works.
  • Get some fans who love your work through beta readers and critique partners.
  • Allow yourself to feel your emotions and take some time doing something entirely differently to rejuvenate.
  • Look back over positive comments in rejection letters. What’s good? This part is important to remember. What needs to improve?
  • Put the story away for a bit and start something new.
  • Read success stories of other people and gain hope from their experiences.
  • Stand back and think of your end result, not of the steps it’s going to take to get there.

Most of all: don’t stop writing!

Because what else do writers do best but write?

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