If you're seeking publication, at some point you will have to deal with rejections. And no matter how much you do to prepare for a rejection, some of them will hurt. Maybe because it was a publication you really wanted to be part of. Or maybe you thought a particular was a perfect match for an anthology. Or maybe because you feel like you're running out of good markets to try. Or you just had a bad day.
Any number of things can make a rejection hit a nerve, but there are steps you can take to dull the sting.
- Have a Plan – before I send a story to a first market I like to have the second (and usually the third, fourth and fifth) market lined up. This keeps me focused on the business at hand – selling a story, instead of bogging down in doubt over whether a story is any good or overanalyzing if it's a good fit for a particular publication.
- Don't Take It Personally – I know it's difficult, but there is nothing to be gained by getting bent over a rejection. There are plenty of novice writers who like to think editors are evil dream-crushers, but that's just silly. Badmouthing an editor who sent a form rejection (or even a personal one) only makes you look like an asshat. And even if you keep your ill-will to yourself, fuming over a rejection is just a waste of time. Time that would be better spent resubbing the rejected story and working on new ones.
- Keep it in Perspective – this is hard until you make your first sale or have your first acceptance, but I find it's easier to keep going if I keep the rejections in perspective. While it's true that the number of rejections you receive is NOT predictive, I like to count how many rejections I have in relation to acceptances. Although the ratio is nothing more than one number compared to another, it helps keep everything in perspective.
- Take a Break – no matter how much I try to stay focused on the idea that writing is work and rejections are a part of that work, I still get bummed out sometimes. That's okay. Usually when I start feeling overwhelmed by the rejections popping up in my email-box, I take a break for a day. I read a good book or chill out listening to a favorite album or cook a special dinner. Even when you don't take rejections personally, they get discouraging. It's important to remember to do things that keep you in a positive frame of mind.
No matter how long you've been writing and seeking publication, rejections still suck. But after a while they start to be just another part of the job.
So, what have you submitted today?