Advice for Writers: How To Handle Rejection

No matter how much of a genius you are, it’s likely that you will experience rejection at some point in your writing career.

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was sent to 12 publishers before Bloomsbury accepted it. Before going on to publish over 600 novels, classic crime author John Creasey received 743 rejections. And even our very own magnificent author Laura Pearson submitted her novel Nobody’s Wife to 14 agents before eventually landing in our submissions box.

So, before you get too down about a rejection, first remember that you’re among the literary greats, and then consider our advice on how to handle rejection.

1. Understand what it means

Strip the emotions out of it, and break it down logically. Publishing is a business, and this is just a business interaction. An unsuccessful submission need not be anything more than that.

2. Know it’s not personal

There are so many things that could have affected the outcome of your submission. It could be as boring as a budget decision. It could be as simple as unfortunate timing. It is very rarely — and, in fact, certainly never — a reflection of your worth or character. A rejection does not mean you are a bad writer or pursuing the wrong dream, it just means your work was not the right fit.

3. … but also know it is personal

As in, this is not a reflection of you, but rather a reflection of the people you submitted to. They have to love your work and feel strongly about it. If they don’t feel a personal connection to it, then they wouldn’t be able to do it any justice. You want something to stir inside the editor or agent you submit to. So when someone says no, it just means that she or he didn’t feel that essential connection — and that’s on them, not you.

4. Continue to focus on you

After being rejected, it can be so easy to start looking at the writers around you who have experienced success. Try to avoid the ‘why can’t that be me?’ pattern of thought. Every rejection and every failure is exactly what needs to happen before you find your success, in whatever form that may eventually take.

5. Use it to fuel your fire

A rejection does not mean you should give up writing. In fact, it probably means that you should write more. Go back for more edits. Write something completely new. Use the pain of hearing ‘no, thanks’ as the fuel to get you even closer to a ‘yes, please, we would love to publish this!’


As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with your best advice on how to handle rejection!