Editor’s Geeble – Issue #130
One of the harshest realities of being an author is dealing with rejection. The challenge is to accept that your work will be rejected at some point—most likely multiple works, multiple times—and yet not let that stop you from trying to get published.Whether you’re just starting out or an established namein the field, remember that it’s how you handle rejection that can make or break your career.
When you’re a novice
This is when you’re at the greatest risk of giving up in the face of rejection, which is unfortunate since it’s also the period you should expect to receive the most rejections. You’ll need to learn how to accept rejection received with and without feedback as to why, and keep going. Taking every rejection to heart as though an editor is rejecting you personally (or worse, a beloved “child”) will lead constant rewrites in response to every criticism or giving up after one or two attempts to place a story. This is the road to a short and unfulfilling fiction career.
When you’re a pro
Rejection becomes more difficult to accept once you’ve appeared in a substantial number of publications or produced a successful book or two. The reason is ego. If you have a “name,” you expect editors to be thrilled just to get a submission from you, and so a rejection can seem downright insulting. The danger arises when you let hubris win and fire off a nasty response to a rejection via email. Even worse, you might say something about it on social media, where you might receive praise and sympathy from your fans, but word (and screencaps) will quickly circulate about your lack of professionalism. Either way, that editor you slammed will take note of your attitude, and trust me, they’ll let others know about it too. And once your name is associated with poor behavior, it doesn’t matter who you are—you can expect submission invitations to dry up and rejections to mount.
How you should handle rejection
- Allow yourself to feel disappointed. Go punch a bag at the gym, yell expletives in your room, or pour yourself a consolation glass of wine.
- Get over it. Tell yourself (or trusted friend or family member) whatever you need to feel better, whether it’s that the editor has no taste or their publication wouldn’t have been the best outlet for your work anyway.
- Consider rewriting. First, examine any substantive feedback received from multiple editors. Determine whether there is a common thread (e.g., a character that’s unbelievable or plot point confusing the reader). If there is something that stands out as a recurring issue, take time to fix it.
- After rewrite or as is, submit to the next market on your list. Only once it’s been rejected from all possible outlets should you set it aside and get to work on your next story.
Remember, a story only has to connect with one editor to get published. Assume the next one will be the right one, and keep submitting!