No one likes rejection. When you’re a writer staring at a rejection letter, realizing how much one little word can hurt (and wondering why words have turned against you—you love them!), you’ll need something to make you feel better.
I’ve been through some rejections—a whole year in fact. The first one stung. Others rolled off my back. Another infuriated me. They all inspired me to regroup. I spent 2018 re-writing my MS, changing chapters, events, and characters, and now I’m ready to submit again.
Because I’ve been down this road before, I know what to expect. I’d like to say my skin is thick and I’ll take each new rejection with grace and move through my submission list unattached, crossing off the “no’s” until I get to that elusive “yes”. I want to say there will be no tears, no meltdowns, no thoughts of giving up the writing dream, and only my usual amount of chocolate consumed. That won’t happen, so instead, I’ll turn to…
The Rejection Survival Kit
The basics of the kit are simple and customizable. To start you’ll need…
Feedback You Like
If no one else has read your MS before submission, get someone to read it now. A family member, a friend, someone you trust from the writing community. They will give you feedback. Take the best of that feedback and print it out and add it to your survival kit. When you get a rejection, take it out and read it. It will remind you your writing is good when you think it’s the worst thing in the world.
Support Contact Details
Those family members, friends, betas, fellow writers who’ve read your work and are great at talking you down from the ledge of despair are who you’ll need. Keep their contact details on hand and call them, email, DM, or organize a time to catch up. They don’t have to tell you that whatever agent or publisher rejected you is an idiot. They just need to be there, listening to you vent, watching you ugly cry, and giving you the chance to get it off your chest.
And by chocolate, I mean the good stuff, only what you eat in emotional emergencies. Or it could be wine, or whatever other vices will (in moderation) help you get through.
A Gift Voucher
For books, or a movie ticket. Give yourself an escape that immerses your brain in something else for a while.
A Nope Day Pass
This idea comes from Meg at Novelty Revisions. She advocates giving yourself a Nope Day now and then to stave off writer burnout. When you’re suffering from rejection burnout, a Nope Day involving no writing, no email checking, no submission preparing is what you need. Just sit around in your pajamas and binge-watch Netflix. I recommend You. It’s a series in the vein of Dexter where a bookstore worker stalks a writer (oh, and it stars Gossip Girl’s, Penn Badgley.)
You’ll see most of the Rejection Survival Kit is any activity that takes your mind off the Whys. Why was it rejected? Why was there no response? Why didn’t they ask for a full? Why was this pitch not liked? Why was a mentor match not matched?
Rejections with no explanation leave you with your own conclusions, which are always worse in reality than the truth.
The truth is your idea didn’t connect with that one person. But you’ll make it worse. You’ll think it because you can’t write, the story is terrible, the characters are awful, and every other lie you can tell yourself. You’ll convince yourself you should give up now. But you shouldn’t.
Pull out that rejection kit, unwrap the chocolate, cash-in the book voucher, and take the day. Then, when you’re ready, get your query, synopsis, and MS attached to an email and press “send”.
— K.M. Allan