Writers hear no more often than yes and learning how to handle rejection is a necessary life skill for every author, both aspiring and successful. Even after you’re published, bad reviews are a form of rejection, so it can be tough to maintain motivation. This is why I read Big Magic on repeat and anyone who creative aspirations should do the same! Other awesome books include You are a Badass, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (see Buster pictured with it here!), The Power of Positive Thinking, and The Power of Now.
I recently pitched literary agents live and have been querying up a storm, so now I’m (anxiously) awaiting responses to roll in to see if any agents are interested in representing me and/or any publishers are interested in buying Twist of Fate.
I’m sure everyone has an example of a time (or 10) when they were rejected (or fearing rejection). Whether from a friend, romantic partner, job application, or publishing house, we have all been there and being mindful while learning how to handle rejection positively makes a huge difference.
How to handle rejection
Do something else. You have to sit with rejection and let it sting. Cry if you have to, talk it out with a trusted friend, journal, but then go do something else. There’s a difference between processing and dwelling on something, so don’t get caught in a negative mental spiral. Try going out for date night (my ideas work for friends as well if you don’t have a partner!) or working out to take your mind off things.
Re-evaluate and learn. If you submitted your query to 10 literary agents and all 10 rejected you, then you likely need to make edits to your submission package and/or your book. This is why I recommend querying in waves so you have the time you need to be strategic based on the feedback you receive.
Follow your north star. One author I met on Instagram received over 350 rejections when she tried to publish traditionally. Her ultimate goal was publishing, not getting the validation that her book was marketable from an industry professional, so she opted to publish it herself. If she wanted confirmation that she had a good story, receiving a pile of rejections would have been the end of her road. Make decisions based around your personal motivations and change course as required.
Don’t let it define you. If you get rejected by an agent, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a terrible writer. It means you’re not a good fit for that agent. The next five agents might love your concept! If you get your sense of self from external sources, you’ll live a rollercoaster life with your emotions all over the map. Only you have the power to control how you react to something, so treat yourself with compassion and remember that one opinion isn’t the be all and end all.
Know your odds. One of my past colleagues left her corporate job to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Her grades weren’t high enough to get into vet school, but she applied anyway knowing that it was a very long shot. It’s easier to accept failure when you’re realistic about it and then you can say, “I did my best” and walk away from it.
How do you handle rejection as positively as possible? Share your tips with us below!
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