Rejection Can Be A Positive Experience

by limebirdvanessa

A while ago I wrote about my experience of submitting a story to a publisher for an anthology which was rejected. Despite obviously feeling a little disappointed, I was so grateful to receive specific feedback and it was a good learning experience for me.

Since then, I have submitted two other pieces of writing to publishers, both of which have been rejected, but both of which have left me hopeful. Again, I was lucky with both to receive some feedback rather than a generic rejection, and there is nothing in either one that makes me think I should give up. They both made me feel like I’m almost there, but not quite. Rather than leaving me disheartened, they have spurred me on to keep going.

The first is a non-fiction parenting book, and this is what the publisher said:

Many thanks for sending this. I have had a good look at it and it’s interesting but too risky for us in the current environment. Parenting is a very crowded shelf and any new investment in it would really need to involve either some major theoretical/behavioural research or a celebrity front (and probably not even the latter at the moment). If you could secure some guaranteed advance sales we might be tempted to take another look but I’m afraid that as it stands we’ll have to pass.

The second was a reworking of my NaNoWriMo novel from last November (are you impressed that I did something with it? I am!), and this is what the publisher said:

Thank you very much for letting me read your work, which I regret is not suitable for us. I like your heroine very much, she was a most sympathetic and interesting character, and I also liked the brisk way you got the story moving along, however, I did not resonate with the stereotyped villains, and the direction of the plot. I am so sorry to disappoint you on this occasion, but would be pleased to read more of your work in the future.

As you can see, both the rejections have positives in them that I can take and work on. This is the first year where I have actually submitted my writing to a book publisher, and I’m so pleased with myself that I have managed to do this with three separate things. I previously always worried that I would take rejection badly, and yet I find myself taking the positives rather than the negatives from them.

If fear of rejection is one of the things that is holding you back, then I urge you to work through that, it might not be as bad as you think…

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29 Comments to “Rejection Can Be A Positive Experience”

  1. I really enjoyed this post Vanessa! Like you said, they can obviously see something in your writing, but you just haven’t found the right match yet. I can feeeellllll it’s coming soooonnnnnn.

  2. This is so true – I can see why now my first books didn’t land me an agent. Positive rejections kept me doing and I’m glad I didn’t give up. You will get there!

  3. You are definitely a published writer in the making! Keep going. I know you’ll get there in the end!

  4. What great positive feedback! Keep going. Your time in the sun is coming very very soon. You have a lot of support behind you. You’re going places, lady! Just keep believing

  5. Vanessa you have such a positive point of view on things, it is such a bonus. Really excellent feedback you got on your work, how encouraging! You could dedicate your first book to me, I wouldn’t mind. πŸ™‚

  6. It definitely looks as if you are on the right track.

    One thing that I would add, particularly with respect to short stories, is that it is often that case that there is limited space in an anthology (with stories already committed by ‘name’ authors) and so it can be difficult to get in. If a story is rejected by one anthology it may be suitable for something else. One of my stories was rejected over a year ago but was recently published in a magazine, another story was turned down by a different anthology and will soon be podcast, so keep on submitting those rejected ones!

    • Thanks Dennis. In the case of the anthology that I mentioned in the other post, my writing definitely wasn’t up to scratch, but I do still think it has potential, I just have to spend the time polishing it up. With the second one that I mentioned here, they were completely right about the stereotyped villains, I think it would work if it was a comedy, but that isn’t, and as soon as I read the comment I realised how right the publisher was on that! Those little comments in the feedback can really help so much.

  7. Vanessa,
    I think you should definitely be encouraged…there’s some good feedback there. The glass is DEFINITELY half full!

    • Thank you πŸ™‚ I particularly liked in the second one where she said she would be pleased to read more of my work in the future – maybe I’m kidding myself but I feel that a publisher wouldn’t say that if they didn’t mean it because they get so many submissions already!

  8. I always took any rejection that wasn’t a form letter as a positive sign. The fact that an agent took the time to point things out meant to me that they had at least found the material interesting enough to read it. I think you have the perfect attitude about rejections, and I agree, those two you outlined are positive, indeed.

  9. Congratulations! Those are two very nice rejections. Yes, I would send the second something new ASAP while you are still on the radar. Very encouraging.

  10. Receiving some specific reasons for a pass would be so helpful! Then you have an idea of what’s working and what isn’t. Given what I’ve read in your posts, I’m not at all surprised that you’re getting these more personalized replies. I think you’re very much heading in the right direction.

  11. What awesome rejections! πŸ™‚ Seriously, as I’ve been in and out of the querying stage, I was more frustrated when I received a form rejection that told me zilch about why they were passing on my work. I think writers who are serious about their craft are willing to hone their work to make it the best it can be, and the only way we can do that is by getting specific feedback. Having a fellow writer give us their 2 cents is great, but to get feedback from someone straight from the biz, someone who knows what’s selling, what works, that’s invaluable.

    Keep up the good work!

    • I know, it’s not just nice to receive specific feedback, it’s invaluable! Otherwise you could keep doing the same things wrong over and over! I know of course that it’s just their opinion, but as long as you are choosing reputable publishers or agents, then their opinion is an informed one and it would be foolish to not take their comments on board. I feel that my submission to the second one I mentioned on here was stronger because I had taken on board comments I received when I submitted to the anthology – that one had commented that I did too much telling rather than showing, and that the dialogue was stilted, so these are things I really worked on with this one; it’s a different publisher and a different story, but I know that by addressing those issues, my submission here was better than it would have been. It’s in their interests to help us produce the best that we can and I wish they would all recognise that!

  12. Thanks Vanessa! It actually is something that scares me. I’ve not been really good taking any of my feedback. Mostly because I’m not sure what to do with it. Rewrites are more daunting to me than the actual writing. I just don’t really know how to do it yet. I’m stumbling through, slowly, but first I have to fight the insane notion that if it stinks now it will never be good enough. I hate feeling that way, but for now, it is my reality. Thanks so much for sharing! Those look like some excellent comments on your submissions, with motivation to keep you going! Congrats!

    • I’m not usually very good at taking criticism or rejection, so it has suprised me that I’ve taken these ones so positively! Maybe if they were straight rejections I wouldn’t have, but because they have good comments in them, it’s making me feel good about myself. I’m usually ok at implementing changes that I receive in feedback, they usually seem to resonate with things that I was already half-thinking! You’ll get there πŸ™‚

  13. You are almost there – I hope that you have celebrated.

  14. It sounds funny, but I think those are great rejections (you know, for being rejections). They’re personalized, so I do get the sense the responder actually read what you submitted. I don’t think there’s much worse than a rejection from someone who didn’t take the time to give your effort the time it deserved.

    Congrats on submitting! That’s a milestone in itself. πŸ™‚

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