All authors face rejection at some point. It’s a soul-destroying, humbling experience that can lead to writers putting down their pen altogether. Yet for all the pain, rejection can be reframed as a tool for growth. I always ask authors in our interviews how they stay resilient in the face of rejection and here is the advice they shared.
1. Try to be Objective
When you pour your heart and soul into your work it’s difficult to remain objective, yet not every reader, agent or publisher is going to be a good fit. Not everyone will share your vision and almost every best-selling author has had to overcome rejection on their path to success. The successful authors are those that didn’t stop trying at the first sign of failure. Know that rejection is not always a personal statement about your work. Pride yourself on developing a thick skin and not taking dismissal personally. Not everyone is going to love your work but someone out there will. Write for them and for yourself.
‘Oh, rejection. My least favorite thing! It never really gets easier, to be honest. However, I try to remember that rejections are not personal and they don’t determine my self-worth or my value as a writer.’ – Kim Chance.
2. Do acknowledge the pain of rejection
Many of authors I talked to allowed themselves a set period of time to feel the sting of defeat. While it can be detrimental to dwell on the rejection or let it knock your self-confidence, acknowledging it can help you move on. Share the experience by venting to your writing group or partner. You are not the first writer to be rejected, nor the last. Write down the frustrations you feel. Remind yourself of why you write and what you have to share with the world.
‘It’s okay to get a little sad, but after that I suggest having a wall or folder available that showcases all the positive reviews and fan letters pertaining to your work. Stare at that and remember that you are good, creative and one of a kind, and no matter what, don’t let any of those haters keep you from writing.’ – E. J. Mellow.
3. Look after Yourself
Now is the time for self-love and compassion. Most of us have a tendency to give in to negative self-talk. Refuse to be your own worst enemy. You have done an amazing job putting yourself bravely out there. Congratulate yourself on how far you have already come. Rejection is a sign that you are showing up and trying. Speak to yourself as you would a friend in need of encouragement.
‘I have a glass of wine and something made of chocolate to get through a bad review. Then I read all the low star reviews of my favorite authors. If that doesn’t work, repeat the wine and chocolate.’ – Andrea R. Cooper.
4. Use it as motivation
Reframe the rejection as a source of growth. What can you learn from the experience? What are the specific reasons your work wasn’t accepted? Can it be improved upon? Is it the best you can make it? Review and improve your work as much as possible. Your objective should never be to avoid rejection entirely. Writing is subjective and your job as an author isn’t to be loved by every reader. Your job is simply to write the best book you know how and share it with the world. The most important thing you can do is keep writing, keep building your support network and keep marketing your work.
'Rejection is one of the best things that can happen to you as a writer. It can help you hone your craft, sharpen your instincts, and perhaps most importantly, build resilience, which you will need at every stage of your writing career.' - Andrea Dunlop.