Writers-all artists, really-must have thick skin in order to wade through all of the rejection letters on the way to literary or artistic success. When you write for a living, you have to accept the fact that some of your work will be rejected, either by a publisher, a reader or a critic. Even after your work has been published for all the word to see, someone is going to reject your masterpiece.
They aren’t rejecting you.
This is one of the hardest concepts for aspiring novelists to grasp. In order to cope with rejection, you must first understand that it’s your work that’s been rejected, not you. Publishers, critics and editors all have a myriad of reasons for rejecting a manuscript or a published work, and none of it has anything to do with who you are.
Don’t overanalyze the rejection.
One of the tendencies for aspiring novelists is to pour over every rejection letter and negative review, searching for some sense of meaning. Even if they don’t agree with the rejection, they still want to understand it.
What you’ll have to learn to understand is that everyone has different tastes and we all have a right to our opinions. Just because Joe Editor or Jane Critic thinks that your work sucks doesn’t mean everyone else feels that way.
There are many reasons for rejection.
When an editor or publisher rejects your manuscript for publication, your first thought is, “My manuscript is terrible!” This isn’t necessarily the case, however, because there are many reasons for rejection.
Perhaps the genre of your manuscript just didn’t fit with the image they are trying to portray. Or maybe they just didn’t click with your novel because it isn’t their style. Remember, even Stephen King has critics, so don’t think that a rejection means you can’t write.
Glean something positive from rejections.
Often, literary agents and publishers (even critics!) will include an explanation for a rejection. For example, if you’ve submitted your manuscript to a literary agent, you might receive a letter explaining why he or she didn’t want to represent your work.
While you shouldn’t overanalyze, you should take what they say to heart. Did they criticize your characterization? Were they uncomfortable with several plot holes? Use their comments to better your writing, then try again.
Consider yourself a member of the club.
When rejection letters and negative reviews begin to pile up in that shoebox under your bed, you can finally consider yourself a real writer. Everyone goes through the rejection phase, whether it’s six rejection letters or six hundred. And just because you’ve published before doesn’t mean you can’t be rejected at a later date.
Don’t stop writing.
Each rejection you receive as an aspiring novelist will not only be a stepping stone in your career, but should also drive you to write more. Don’t take rejections lying down; instead, work to further your skills by taking courses, hiring an editor or just writing every day. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can forge through the rejection letters and negative reviews.