I read an article recently in the Sunday Times Magazine. It was about a man called Denis Pethebridge – and his 30 years of literary failure!
In a leather-bound scrap book he had amassed 338 rejection letters. Starting in 1937 he had sent out articles, stories and novels to just about every newspaper, magazine, agent and publisher in the UK…and had rejections from them all. But did that stop him? No. By 1967 he was planning to start a new volume of rejection letters because the first was overflowing. Apparently he eventually self-published a novel in 1996 at the age of 77 and went on to live until he was 94. In his case optimism, however unfounded, was no detriment to his health.
Every writer gets rejected – and every writers is demoralised by it. But the golden rule to remember is that it’s not you personally being rejected, just that particular piece of work at that particular moment in time.
It often helps if you have a number of writing projects on the go. Start on your next writing project as soon as you send off the last one. Don’t sit there twiddling your thumbs and waiting for a response. The more writing you have out there for consideration, the more chance there is that your next piece will get a positive response.
Always bear in mind that rejection isn’t failure – you can always tweak the piece and send it elsewhere. And also remember that rejection is subjective. One editor may not like your style or your approach to a particular subject, but the next editor you try might be on your wavelength!
Many new writers assume that when their work is rejected it’s because their writing isn’t up to standard. But there are many reasons for rejection. The editor may just have accepted an article on a similar theme or an editor with whom you’ve built up a good relationship may have moved on to a different publication. Market requirements also change over time – that’s why it’s so important to keep up to date.
You’ve just got to have staying power if you really want to be a writer, and not let rejection get you down!