Submitting to a Publisher: Dealing with Rejection

You’ve probably heard stories of some authors receiving a book deal after sending out their manuscript on a whim. For most writers, the opposite is true. A lot of hard work goes into getting published and most writers will have to send their books to multiple publishers and agents before finding success. Many highly successful authors have been turned down repeatedly before they were eventually taken on.

Top ten tips for dealing with rejection:

1.    Have courage

If you’re putting your work into the public domain, it will face rejection. However, think of this in a more positive way: it takes courage to put your work out there and you’re giving it a chance to be noticed.

2.    Be patient

You will have to be patient when waiting to hear back about your manuscript. Publishing houses and Literary Agents are very busy and often won’t be able to respond immediately. Any success will hopefully make this slow process worth it in the end. If a publisher asks you to submit further work on the basis of a synopsis or sample chapters you should feel encouraged, even if this does not lead to a publishing deal.

3.    Take feedback on board

If you receive a refusal letter don’t immediately see red. If that rejection letter offers advice on improving your work this can be a good sign; most publishers will not offer any feedback because they are so swamped with manuscripts. Feedback is generally given because the publisher believes you show some promise. Take their advice on board and use it.

Just because one publisher or agent doesn’t want to take it on, that doesn’t mean no-one ever will

4.    Don’t stop writing

Even if you don’t receive feedback, that doesn’t mean your work isn’t worth sending out again. It could simply be a case of a bad fit for that publisher or you need to do some more work on it. The important thing is to keep writing.

5.    Listen to your gut

If a particular piece keeps getting rejected, think about why this might be happening. Does a particular bit of feedback keep cropping up? Make sure you address any issues and fix them before sending your work out again.

6.    Build a thick skin

Nobody enjoys rejection. As a writer, you need to develop a very thick skin if you’re going to sustain a career in the industry. However, there’s nothing wrong with admitting a rejection hurts. The important thing is not to dwell on it.

7.    Rejection isn’t personal

Your novel is just one submission in a very large pile that is constantly growing. Just because one publisher or agent doesn’t want to take it on, that doesn’t mean no-one ever will. Take a step back and remember why you love the story you’re telling in the first place.

8.    Be classy

Harassing people via email, telephone or social media is never a good thing will only make you look bad. Such behaviour could also potentially ruin any future publication opportunities. Think before you click.

9.    Reconnect with the writing world

Remind yourself that you’re part of a community of writers. Join a writing group, go along to a literary salon or an event and reconnect with other writers. Immerse yourself in the bigger picture.

10. Take a break

Rest is important too! If submitting is taking its toll, have a break to recharge your batteries. Similarly, switching to a new piece of work can have a rejuvenating affect. Look after yourself and your writing will benefit from it.

Our writing agony aunt, Miss Write, also has some top tips for dealing with rejection.