When you get that note saying someone isn’t interested in purchasing or publishing you work, you have two choices.
- You can choose to react. You can let your emotions drive unconscious or unintentional actions.
- You can choose to respond. You can consciously and intentionally decide what to do, which means you think about what action would serve you best in the situation.
How to React to a Rejection Letter
Now, should you choose to react, rather than respond, to a rejection letter, you might do any one of these things:
- Get angry.
- Take their comments personally.
- Write a nasty response—and send it.
- Say negative things about the person or their publication/publishing house across all the social networks.
- Give up.
- Decide you aren’t good enough to become a professional writer of any type.
- Assume you don’t have what it takes to succeed as an author.
- Follow in the footsteps of so many “famous” writers and open a bottle of whiskey…and drink a lot of it.
- Drown your frustration in some other drug of choice.
- Eat a lot of chocolate or ice cream.
- Burn the letter.
- Burn your manuscript.
- Dump your manuscript in your computer’s trash bin—and hit “empty.”
As you can imagine, these reactions will not help you achieve your writing goals. They won’t support you on your journey to become a successful writer and author.
The Rejection-Proof Mindset
That’s why you need to decide how to respond to the rejections you know you will receive along the way to successful authorship or professional-writer status. A response is much more likely to move you forward toward your goals.
Here are some possible responses to rejection letters:
- Revise you query letter. More often than not, a bad query letter causes a rejection letter to arrive in response—even if your book or article idea is a marketable one. In fact, a typo, bad grammar, or lousy letter etiquette can cause an agent or editor to say “no” and never consider the idea.
- Revise your manuscript or proposal. Sometimes you get past the query letter, and the manuscript or book proposal receives a rejection. At that point, there’s a good chance there’s a problem in the document or with the idea. Revision and evaluation are in order.
- Evaluate your article or book idea for marketability. More than a few rejections letters could mean that publishing professionals don’t think your idea is saleable. If it won’t sell books or magazines or bring in readers online, you will, indeed, get a rejection letter. If you didn’t do it prior to sending out a query, a series of rejections indicates the need to take a closer look at the viability of your idea.
- Submit to a different agent, publication or agent. It’s possible that you have poorly selected the recipients of your query letters. If you aren’t targeting your queries to the right market or to an agent or publishing house interested in the type of book or subject you have proposed, rejections letters will fill your email box.
- Figure it’s a game of numbers. As I wrote about in this post, you can assume you have a rejection quota to meet. Just keep sending out query letters and book proposals until you meet that quota and get an acceptance letter or call. In other words, if you send out enough query letters, eventually you’ll get a “yes.” After all, some bestselling authors received more than 100 rejections before an agent or editor graced them with an acceptance letter.
- Stay positive and tenacious. If you believe your query is strong and your idea is marketable, you might just need to keep your chin up and keep hitting “send.” Assume you have sent your work to the “wrong” person…numerous times. Then decide to send it to the right person next time. When you get another rejection letter, once again, say, “Oops! I must have sent that query to the wrong person. This time I’ll send it to the right person.”
- Get professional help. I don’t mean make a appointment with a shrink to see if you are crazy! If you continue to get rejections, or if you want to avoid getting additional ones, you can hire a professional editor or a coach to look at your work. Make sure you hire an editor with experience in query letter, article, or book proposals (or nonfiction books) editing. Then have the editor check to see if your work is publishable—or help you make it publishable.
I’m sure there are some other responses you might choose. Just remember that you do have the ability to choose.
If you do so, you can reduce the number of rejections you receive.
Can you think of some other potential responses you might choose if you receive a rejection letter? If so, share it in a comment below.