Getting published: advice for dealing with rejection

Rejection is a huge part of a writer's life, but knowing that doesn't always make it easier. Check out our top tips for brushing it off and moving forward.

You’ve probably heard stories of some authors receiving a book deal after sending out their manuscript on a whim. For most writers, the opposite is true. Typically, getting published is a long and tricky road paved with rejection. That's why we've put together 10 tips to help you along the way.

Have courage

If you’re putting your work into the public domain, it will face rejection. However, think of this in a more positive way: it takes courage to put your work out there and you’re giving it a chance to be noticed.

Be patient

Patience is key when it comes to hearing back about your manuscript. Publishers and (this will open in a new window)literary agents are very busy and you may face some very long wait times. In fact, you may not hear back at all. Be sure to check the guidelines to see if you should write off a particular contact after a certain number of months.

Take feedback on board

If you receive a rejection letter that happens to include some feedback, you actually have reason to celebrate. Feedback is very rare and should be seen as encouragement that your writing shows promise, even if it isn't the right fit for that agent or publisher. Be sure to take the feedback on board and give it due consideration, even if you decide not to follow it.

Don’t stop writing

Even if you don’t receive feedback, that doesn’t mean your work isn’t worth sending out again. It could simply be a case of a bad fit for that publisher or you need to do some more work on it. The important thing is to keep writing.

Listen to your gut

If a particular piece keeps getting rejected, think about why this might be happening. Does the same bit of feedback keep cropping up? Make sure you address any issues and fix them before sending your work out again.

Form a thick skin

Nobody enjoys rejection. As a writer, you need to develop a very thick skin if you’re going to sustain a career in the industry. However, there’s nothing wrong with admitting a rejection hurts. The important thing is not to dwell on it.

Rejection isn’t personal

Your novel is just one submission in a very large pile that is constantly growing. Just because one publisher or agent doesn’t want to take it on, that doesn’t mean no-one ever will. Take a step back and remember why you love the story you’re telling in the first place.

Be classy

Harassing people via email, telephone or social media is never a good thing. Such behaviour will only make you look bad, and could potentially ruin any future publication opportunities. Think before you click.

Reconnect with the writing world

Remind yourself that you’re part of a community of writers. Join a writing group (or start your own), go along to a literary salon or an event and reconnect with other writers. Immerse yourself in the bigger picture.

Take a break

Rest is important too! If submitting is taking its toll, have a break to recharge your batteries. Similarly, switching to a new piece of work can have a rejuvenating effect. Look after yourself and your writing will benefit from it.