Dealing with Actual Rejection

As promised, this is part two on the topic of rejection…

Let’s assume you get past your fear of rejection to the point where you are sending out enough writing to garner plenty of rejection.

This is great!

Why would I say that?

Because once your writing is rubbing up against the folks who may wish to buy rights to your work, you actually have a chance of being published.

But what if you are sending plenty of work out and receiving plenty of rejection in return, but not as much success as you would like?

There are several things you can do to change this:

1. Pay close attention to what you are submitting. Does it represent your best writing efforts? Does it sparkle, sing, and shine? If it doesn’t, I can tell you as an editor that second-best is never as good as best. An editor will always go for the polished piece of writing that is ready for publication rather than the piece that has “potential.” I know, for me, as a writing instructor, I deal with potential all the time. But as an editor, I’m looking for “good to go.”

2. Analyze the comments are you receiving back. If nothing or at least nothing that tells you anything about your writing (this is common, btw), you may wish to enlist the services of a professional editor or teacher, who will work with you to help you identify and overcome your weaknesses so that you can submit the kind of work that gets selected for publication.

3. Solicit feedback from other sources. Mentors may help you by critiquing your work from time to time, but it’s probably a better idea to ask your writing buddy or writing group to critique your work, if this is something you need on an ongoing basis.

4. Consider the frequency of your submissions. I have discovered in my Pitching Practice class that the more students put themselves through the query-writing paces, the better queries they write. And the more, generally speaking, they just start to “get” the way the relationship between writers and editors works.

5. Consider the level of professionalism you employ when submitting your work. Perhaps you write well and appropriately, but your submission methods could use a little spit-shine. This is an area that requires your attention, as most editors and agents I know appreciate a certain amount of formality. They also definitely appreciate being treated with respect and with consideration for how hard they work.

So, if you are thinking, “What have editors done for me lately?” You might want to pull a J.F.K. and ask instead, “What have I done for editors?”

In case you haven’t heard me say it before, there is not anyone in the publishing industry—and this goes for writers, agents, editors, sales folks, and everyone—who is not working extremely hard in a very competitive environment.

Writing is hard work requiring concentration, effort, thoughtfulness, and so much more. Are you willing to devote that kind of energy to your writing career?

If so, you will lick that bad boy, rejection, eventually.

If you’d like a second opinion on this topic, Wendy Burt has written about it recently in Writers on the Rise.


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