One of the most nerve-racking steps on the writing journey is submitting your book to agents and publishers. I’ve been there, done that, and have been rejected—multiple times. It’s not fun, especially as you usually aren’t told why.
With nothing to go on, you’re then left to think of your own reasons; was it not good enough? Did my writing suck? Did I have a typo? Was the plot not up to scratch? Was it boring? Are my characters not as awesome as I think they are? (by the way, the correct answer there is no, because my characters are awesome!).
The point is that it’s very easy to let that rejection derail you. In order to avoid that, here are my tips for surviving rejection.
Accept That You Will Be Rejected
First and foremost, you will be rejected. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written the best book in the world and it’s loved by your family, friends and strangers. The person that has to love it is the agent or publisher in charge—and if they don’t, you’ll get rejected.
That of course doesn’t mean that your book isn’t the best in the world, it just means that the person you sent it to doesn’t think so, and that you’ll have to keep looking for the person who will. In the meantime, the rejection might make your heart grow a hard shell and your soul turn black, but you can survive it. Just remember that although each ‘no’ will sting, the pain of it will (eventually) fade.
Have Options Ready
As soon as the very first agent rejection landed in my inbox, I put together my next submission and sent it off that very same day. I might have paused in between to weep and consume chocolate, but I got right back on the submission horse, and so should you. Have a list of other agents and publishers ready and work through it. Once you’ve been rejected, simply mark them off as the people who can’t help you, and move onto the next one.
Process And Learn From The Rejection
No one likes to be rejected, and it’s certainly not healthy to dwell on it, but you also have to process that rejection. Have a cry, vent to loved ones, your journal or cat, and indulge in whatever fat-laden, sugary treat is going to replace the sadness with guilt. It’s important to acknowledge that you’ve been rejected, and then look to see what you can learn from it. Was there feedback that you can use to make improvements to your submission? Can you change-up the sample chapters for better ones? Can you re-write your synopsis? Decide where you want to go next, and then get there. Just don’t stop because of one (or a few) rejections.
Keep Your Emotions In Check
It’s a big deal, submitting. You’ve put everything into your book and sending it out into the world is scary. That file attachment is the manifestation of your hopes and dreams. It’s emotional, but it can’t be emotional if you want to survive rejection.
You need to go into auto mode and work through your submission list like it’s the day job you’re doing until your writing takes off. If you let the rejection get to you then you’ll never want to send an MS out again, and if you give up, you’ll never know if it was the next agent, or only the second publishing house you tried that was the one to say yes.
Stay Away From The Stats
Yes, part of being realistic about your publishing odds is knowing the statistics. But if you’re a writer, especially one who is part of the writing community on Instagram or Facebook, you know the odds are high. The Internet connects you with a world of writers. There’s a lot out there, many who are like you, some who are better writers, and every single one of them is trying to achieve the same goal. You know this already, you don’t need to look at the stats or compare yourself. The only writer you’re against is yourself.
Focus on what you can do when submitting, what you need to do to pick yourself up from rejection (which can include venting to those other writers—they understand) but don’t read the statistics and let them overwhelm you to the point of not wanting to submit because you feel there’s no point. As bestseller Alice Peterson said; “…books are still being published, why can’t it be yours?”. Stay away from the stats and have a little faith. Faith, after all, is actually the best way to survive rejection.
— K.M. Allan