The Rejection Survival Kit

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.

Chocolate

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

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

49 thoughts on “The Rejection Survival Kit

    1. If you’ve already submitted to someone with one project, I wouldn’t send it again unless it’s so drastically different you wouldn’t even call it the same book. The publishing community is small and I wouldn’t count on agents not remembering your submission. It sucks for projects you feel you’ve made stronger, but that’s the way it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As you well know, I am feeling the sting of rejection right now. Wonderful survival kit idea, and great tips at ways to feel better ❤ I especially like the idea of printing out feedback that makes you happy. Beta readers are the best 🙂 xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ruth Miranda

    After a lifetime of rejection and dreadful ‘reviews’ – not all connected to writing, mind, most were about who I am as a person – by family, friends, employers, love interests, colleagues, co-workers, I should have the hide of an elephant, I think. Alas, my survival kit wants to be made of suicidal helpers whenever rejection (in whatever form) comes my way ehehehehh. Can’t deal, won’t ever be able to deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Suburban Syntax and commented:
    First reblog of 2019!

    This is a useful (and timely) post from K.M. Allan on some ways to deal with rejections. I say timely, because Editors LOVE to use the holiday-downtime to catch up on rejecting all of us. It’s their peak time to send out little “gifts” none of us really want. I won’t pretend I watched Gossip Girl, but I love the idea of a “Nope Day” to retain sanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What I find so aggravating, after almost 30 years of being traditionally published, is that truly talented writers remain unpublished while MANY” break down the door to publication” because of who they are or who they know. It’s like watching a really talented musician/singer never getting an offer from a big label, while others “make it” based on this or that.
    I’ve had my share of rejections over the years (oh yeah!). I could seriously cover several walls with them (back in the day when communication was by snail mail). I’ve made some decent money with a couple of books (bigger publishers), while I’ve yet to make a cent from other books. Still, I learned long ago that I don’t write for the money. With the untold hours I’ve put into my writing (including research) I’ve probably earned no more than a penny an hour. Such is the life of most writers, even those fortunate enough to break into print.
    So, don’t despair. Keep on keeping on. Best of luck, and I hope to see YOU in print soon! 🙂
    –Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michael. Love you insight and advice. Sometimes it really is about who you know. Whether it’s traditionally published or self published, my books will be out in the world one day 😊. I haven’t spent so much time writing them to have no one read them.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We have chosen a hard road for travel where only a handful survive. We know it’s tough but that doesn’t stop us from being hurt when a rejection arrives.

    You mentioned feedback and that is vital. Feedback from fellow writers before we send it out is the one thing a writer can control. It allows us to fix problems, tighten the story and create a sharper opening.

    In the end, rejection hurts. There’s no getting passed it. I like the idea to take a day off. No e-mail, no work, nothing. Every now and then we need to stop.

    Excellent list. Thanks!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I submitted my manuscript to 80 publishers. And got 79 nice and detailed answers. But all were rejections. “The circle of interested readers is too small. There are too few people with rheumatoid arthritis. Publishing won’t be worth the effort.” The last publisher did even not report at all. Family, chocolate and sports had helped me a lot in these days 😉
    I never thought to be an self publisher and now I am very happy with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this idea so much!! I got a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas and I’m definitely stashing it in my rejection survival kit (with your lovely beta feedback too!) for when I start querying. I admire your perseverance so much and I know that you’ll find a “yes” soon. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Although being traditionally published, I don’t discount the option of self-publication. If done right (professionally) I can’t see what the difference is in these days of trimmed down publishing options. So, study until you know the process, and then put you work “out there!” I am seriously considering this option myself. Good luck and blessings to all! 🙂
    –Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Michael 😊. Good luck to you too if you decide to go down that road. I agree, if done right, it’s hard to tell what’s traditional or self-published these days. As long as readers find the books and enjoy them, that’s all that matters.

      Like

  9. Great post! Def saving this, as you know I’m in the query boat with you this year! I’ve gotten pretty thick-skinned about all the short story submission rejections over the years–helps that there have been a handful of acceptances!–but I know the query rejections (or simply the radio silence) will be tough to take at times. I work in quantity, so fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: 10 Things to do When Your Novel has Been Rejected by an Agent – Uninspired Writers

  11. Pingback: January Round-up: 5 awesome articles I want to share | Ari Meghlen – Writer | Blogger | Bad card player

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