Monday, February 25, 2013

The Art of Accepting Rejection Gracefully.

A recent response to a rejection letter I sent, got me to thinking about what it means to have your story rejected, how to handle it, as well as how to respond to such things.

As an author and an editor I have been on each end of the spectrum. I have received a whole slew of rejection letters as well as sent some. I'm going to tell you right now, neither position is one I like to sit in.

As an author, when I receive a rejection, I feel bummed out and for a day or so, a little discouraged.

As an editor, I feel bad for the author being rejected because I don't want anyone to feel bummed like I do when receiving a rejection. Having someone tell you your work is no good, is not something that anyone likes (unless you have some strange fetish that I have yet to hear about it, lol though I am going to assume that you don't).

Good questions to ask--
How should an author act in this situation? 
Should they respond to the editor rejecting their work? 
Should they not? What is the right thing to do?

This is true and incorrect all at once. It starts at an early age,
but do we ever really get used to it?
Based on the experience I have had on both ends of the spectrum, here are some tips on the matter.
            -In response to the question—Should you respond to a rejection letter?—My answer is no. There is no reason to prolong the torture of being rejected by sending some sort of snarky email. This kind of response will NEVER earn you an acceptance. The editor/acquisitions manager has already made up their mind about the work in question. Sending this kind of email will only succeed in changing the editor's mind about you as a person and your inability to be professional.

It is okay to respond if you have a legitimate question about the critiques given in the email (if any). To have an honest question is understandable and encouraged. As an editor I want every book I receive to be one worthy of a publishing contract, and even if yours isn't right for a contract right now, this doesn't mean that it never will be. The only way to get better is to ask questions and take critiques seriously.

            -With that being said, I think some authors forget exactly what a critique is. A critique is the act or art of analyzing and evaluating or judging the quality of something. When I critique the work of someone who has been rejected I do it with the intent of helping the author and letting them know why exactly I chose not to accept something they subbed. I don't do this with the intent of destroying someone's confidence, work, or life in general. Not to mention, that a critique is an opinion. If you are going to be an author you have to be prepared for unfavorable opinions when it comes to your work. Not everyone is going to like what you've written. There is so no complacent standard that the literary world abides by. Everyone has their own outlook and I believe that it is safe to say that no one's is valued more than another.

I had someone recently (which is what sparked the idea for this post) respond to a rejection letter I sent, not only say that my opinion was incorrect, but also tell me that they are 'from one of the longest bloodlines in the world'… I seriously sat and stared at the screen thinking… Did they really just say that? Lol, I am not laughing at this person (okay, maybe I am a little) but I fail to see the correlation of one's bloodline and my rejection letter. Knowledge isn't inherited. Thank you, person for confirming this.
Oh, just me, you know, hovering over rejected manuscripts. 

As an editor (and I think I can speak for most other editors when I say this) I do not sit upon my evil editing throne and cackle over manuscripts while I boil undeserving authors in a pot of stew (most of the time). I do, however, give every manuscript I receive a fair chance and I always will.

As an author, I think it is important to keep in mind that a rejection isn't the end of the world, but the beginning of a journey. It is in the journey that a writer will learn and grow into the author they will become. To get anywhere good you have to struggle and persevere before you see the light at the end of the tunnel. 


  1. 'from one of the longest bloodlines in the world'

    Ok, sorry but I laughed a little :) not at the person but like you said what does that have to do with anything?


    1. Lol, yes everytime I think about it, I can't help but chuckle a bit. :-)

  2. Hey, I'm from the longest bloodlines in the world. So what? Although, I've seriously considered asking the Queen of England for a title and some lands as I'm related to her (okay, I may have felt desperate and perhaps feverish when it occurred to me) and Descended from Charlemagne on both my father and mother's side and down more than one line. But, like so what? Doesn't mean I can tell a story to save my life. Might be why I'm cantankerous and cranky and ready to fight. LOL not even in the midst of my fevers did I think of telling an editor they had to accept my book because, well, you know, I'm related to the Queen of England. LOLOL *giggles*

    1. Leona, I think you should get in touch with your cousin (y'all have to be related, right? lol) and give her a good smack upside the head!
      You are aloud to use this excuse because you ARE a fantastic writer. I know because I've read some of your work. ;-)
      You should call the Queen and let her know that someone from the line is giving her a bad name! LOL.

      It really is awesome that you have tracked your heritage that far. I've never looked into mine at least not past the civil war. I should do that.

  3. NOw I know where I'm going wrong...or is it right? I'm common as muck, mum a cockney, little old me...