Monday, June 9, 2008

Stepping past rejection

SoTerra Cotta Ornament at The Bourse (Philadelphia, PA)Image by takomabibelot via Flickr We're all about contracts here - which for many, involves endless rounds of querying, writing, polishing, promoting, edits - redrafts, invoicing, deals with publishers, deals with editors buying articles for whole stables of magazines, sites, newspapers, blogs and more. It's about working towards that shining goal of having your name and words in print right?

I spent the last year investing in my writing - I started a course at University that I really am enjoying - and at the same time, to celebrate the end of term, I polished up all of my stories and poems and subbed them round places I spent the year hand picking. Its not an *ideal* way to get yourself into print - for a start, it doesn't subscribe to the 'rule of 13' that Dej and Heather frequently mention (I think!) on Thewritingmother's mailing list.
Sometimes, when I'm submitting work, I feel like I'm trying to use a rosetta stone to decifer success though. I've yet to 'crack' it - but I'm sure its there, just round the corner.
Due to various things that changed (for the better!) in my life recently, I'm even more determined to translate some of my hard work into success, but I'm finding rejections very hard to deal with. not because I believe I'm not being seen in the right places, but because I'm sending my work to 'all the right places' and I just can't seem to break in. Its not a bad thing - I'm becoming more determined to do it, and writing all the better.

So - I wonder - how do you step passed rejection? It is, after all, only another stage of your journey as a writer - so how do YOU deal with it?

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Jon Bard said...

My first advice is to determine whether the problem is your story, or the way it's being presented. From our experience, the vast majority of unsolicited submissions never make it to an editor. They're flagged by an assistant and slapped with a form rejection.

Often, it has nothing to do with the quality of the manuscript. Some typical causes:

* Incorrectly or sloppily formatted
* Over/under the word count
* Targeting the wrong age or genre
* Poorly crafted cover/query letter
* Sent to the wrong editor
* Is of a genre not published by the company

....and so on.

Editors might want to be able to dig out diamonds in the rough, but they truly don't have the time. If the manuscript isn't just right (and to make it just right, get the publisher's guidelines and follow them to a T, plus we have a DVD that's specifically about this subject) your story won't get a serious reading.

The good news? If you can master the art of submitting a manuscript properly you'll leap over the vast majority of the competition!

So start there before you fret about whether the manuscript itself is the problem.

All the best,

Jon Bard
Managing Editor
Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers -
The Children's Writing Web Journal -

Lucy Adams said...

As a humor columnist, I query editors all the time, by phone, by mail, by foot. And I get rejected more times than I get a, "By golly, we were just sitting here talking about how we wished someone like you would find us!"

I get past rejection by 1) reminding myself that they are not rejecting me and/or my work, but that the timing wasn't right. Their paper is full, they already have a humor columnist, or their budget won't allow them to pick up anything new. And 2) I make a mental or written list of all of my publishing accomplishments, including complimentary rejection letters.

Then I get back out there and plug away, because if I don't give anyone a chance to tell me "No," then I'm also not giving him a chance to tell me "Yes."

Good Luck!

Lucy Adams
Syndicated Columnist
Author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny

Serenity Now! said...

Jon and Lucy have offered some really good advice.

Personally, I find writing rejection quite easy to take... I have two ways of looking at it:

1) I'm one step closer to an acceptance.

2) It's only one person's opinion.

Of course neither of those absolve me from going back and taking another look at the piece.

You are right Kai, it is just a stage of the journey. It's a time for rest and reflection... but if you stay there too long, you'll never want to get up again.