Currently, I’m trying to traditionally publish my novel (that is, through a publishing house). And my first course of action is to find an agent who will take me on as their client. This means sending an excerpt of my novel and a cover letter to a bunch of strangers and asking them to judge my work and hoping they’ll offer to represent me.
Well, that sounds simple enough, but the most common response to this request is in the negative either with a polite and slightly heart-wrenching ‘no’ or a painful silence.
So how do you handle rejection as an author?
Let yourself feel the negative emotions.
Sadness, anger, confusion, disbelief, whatever it is, let yourself feel it. There’s no shame in feeling. You may want to find a private moment and punch some pillows or you might just need to read the rejection email a couple times to let its meaning sink in. It’s okay. It sucks that your work was rejected. Take a second with those negative emotions.
Take a step back.
Please, whatever you do, do not spring into action immediately after receiving a rejection. Do not hit reply and haughtily inform the publisher that they’ll be sorry they passed on your work.
Just step away from the computer and step away from your work. You’ve felt the emotions, now you need to collect yourself so you can make an intelligent and reasonable next step.
Where possible, learn the lesson.
Find the good. Look for the silver lining. If you received feedback, see how you can apply it. Recognize that this rejection has made you stronger.
Remember that this is part of the process.
It’s crummy, but rejection is just part of life, and it’s a large part of trying to get published and make sales. Not everyone is going to like your book, but you don’t need everyone to like your book. You do, however, have to sift through all those folks in order to find the ones that do. Remember, some of the world’s most popular books went through tons of rejections before they found their right publisher!
Remind yourself of why your book is awesome.
Reacquaint yourself with your work. Remember what it was like coming up with the idea, the process of writing out that first terrible draft, nursing it through edits. Your work has grown into something awesome and your writing is awesome. Don’t forget that.
Make a plan for the next step.
Now what? What’s the next step? Are you going to try out a new batch of enquiries? Send your novel to another beta reader to get further feedback? Take a break from this piece? Self-publish? Whatever you decide, make sure to take the time to make sure it’s the next right step for YOU.
Never give up on yourself.
If becoming a published author is truly your dream, then you must never give up on yourself. Keep writing, keep honing your craft, keep pitching, keep sharing, keep moving forward. You’ll never become published if you don’t try. And you’ll never become published if you don’t face at least a little rejection. Bummer, I know.
As for my fresh-off-a-rejection self, I’ve gotta take my own advice and start figuring out my next step. Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing my masterpiece in no time.
Enjoy the journey,