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5 Things Not To Do When You Get Rejected

You wrote a book. You poured your heart and soul into it and worked on it for a long time–weeks, months, maybe even years. You edited and revised it, you showed it to a few people you trust, you incorporated their suggestions and you’ve read every single word of this manuscript so many times they’re burnt permanently into your brain. You’ve done your best, you think it’s a great story, you think you wrote the best thing you’ve ever written. So you send it off to an agent/publisher/editor, and you hold your breath, and you wait.

And it gets rejected.

This happens to all of us. Trust me. If you haven’t yet sent something off to an editor with stars in your eyes and a song in your heart, I have some bad news for you–you’re going to get rejected. This is the cold, hard truth. Yes, you’re still brave and wonderful for trying, but you’re going to get rejected nonetheless. Almost no writer ever has gotten their very first manuscript accepted. We hear stories all the time about famous authors who got rejected a bunch of times before they were accepted. Heck, those of us who have a bunch of stuff published already STILL get rejections. And you know what? Rejections never stop sucking. Every single one hurts, no matter who you are and what you’ve accomplished.

Rejection sucks, but don’t lose it. 5 things NOT to do when you get rejected. #writing @morgan_romance

When you get rejected it’s okay to hurt, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be angry, or throw something across the room (preferably something not fragile or alive). It’s okay to moan to your friends or have a beer or two or six. However…

Here are 5 things NOT TO DO when you get rejected:

  1. Argue. Never email an agent/editor back and try to argue your rejection, or tell them what a short sighted moron they are. You know why? Because you might want to send them something else in the future. Also, people in the industry talk to each other and you don’t want to get a reputation for this. No matter how much you want to tell them off, this is never, ever a good idea. (You’re also not going to change their mind.) Take a few deep breaths, let the anguish wear off, and realize the best thing for your hopeful future career is to swallow your pride. Some people like to send a thank you note to an editor after a rejection, but I wouldn’t do this either–for me, when they reject me, that’s the end of our conversation.
  2. Put the rejector on blast. Don’t go on social media and talk about how dumb/spineless/clueless your rejector is. Even if you don’t name names, it does poor things for your image to post long Facebook rants about stupid agents or tweets about editors being buffoons. It’s okay to commiserate with your writer friends, but don’t do it in public. Remember, stuff you put on the internet lasts forever.
  3. Immediately self publish. Being rejected is not a green light to go ahead and just put your book up on Amazon yourself. Especially if the rejector gave you detailed feedback and suggestions, you probably want to sit down with your manuscript and see where you can make it stronger and better. You might even want to let it cool for a while and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Remember, if you put your book up for sale and people read it, and there’s things genuinely wrong with it, readers are way, way less forgiving than editors. You could be souring any future audience to your work.
  4. Get destructive. Don’t immediately delete all copies of your manuscript and set your hard drive on fire in a fit of rage and self-loathing. The hard truth of writerhood is that some things you write will linger and die and never be published, but some things you write just need some more fixing up so you can try again. Let it simmer for a bit and figure out which one it is. If you think you hate yourself now, wait a few days when you realize you deleted an entire book.
  5. Give up. Just because you got rejected doesn’t mean you’ll always get rejected. The only way to win is to stay in the game. Be sad, be angry, be embarrassed–and then let it wear off and try, try again.

Being rejected is never easy, but it’s part of being a writer. It’s natural to feel bad, but it’s important not to do anything rash. How do you deal with rejection?

Megan Morgan View All

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author.

11 thoughts on “5 Things Not To Do When You Get Rejected Leave a comment

  1. I think I was too starry eyed and too young when I got rejected the first time. I stopped writing for quite a while. Now that I have sent off another one, I’m GLAD the previous one isn’t out there. It makes me cringe to think I had sent that! I think you can only make sense of rejection in retrospect.

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    • Very true! When I was a young writer, I thought everything I wrote was a MASTERPIECE, and now I look back on that stuff and see how bad it was. Never give up! The only way to win is to STAY in the GAME!

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