Writing Tips – Handling Rejection

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As a writer, you’re going to be submitting a lot of material to a lot of publishers and agents. It could be weeks, months, maybe even years before you get your written work accepted, which means many, many rejection letters. Unless you can learn to handle this rejection your writing career is going to be very short.

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The truth is, many writers, once they reach the point where they actually start submitting material and start getting rejected, end up changing careers faster than the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco. Many promising careers were probably cut short because of the inability to handle rejection. Hopefully the following tips will make that rejection easier to deal with and help turn it into a positive.

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Before you even start submitting your material to publishers and agents, get a little practice getting some feedback from others. Don’t give your work to friends to read. For starters, they’re probably not interested and depending on the kind of friends you have, will either tell you what you want to hear or rip your work to shreds just for the fun of it. Give it to somebody who has some knowledge of the material like one of your old college professors or high school teachers if you can find them. If you can join a local workshop to get feedback, that’s always a good thing too. Get as much feedback as you can from as many sources as you can. Most likely some of it won’t be glowing, especially if you tell them to be honest because you are thinking of submitting the work to a publisher.

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Every time somebody says something negative about your work, think about how you feel about the comment. If it hurts, deal with it. Come to terms with it. Tell yourself that you’re not going to let a few bad comments get to you. After you do this for a while you will start to find that you develop what is called a thick skin. Suddenly, the comments don’t hurt as much. When that day comes, you are probably ready to start submitting to publishers.

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When you submit to publishers, keep a list. Make a game of it. In marketing, you only make sales to 3% of your prospects. So if you send out 100 copies of your manuscript most likely you will only get 3 positive responses. As you start getting your rejection letters back, don’t just tack them up on the wall or throw them in the trash. The really good publishers will give you a reason for the rejection. Make a note of their comments. Maybe they spotted something in your work that you didn’t see. Maybe there’s room for improvement. If you take each criticism as the person actually trying to make your work better you will be on your way to turning that work into something that will sell.

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The part of tacking the rejection letter on the wall was no joke. Do it. Make a game of it. See how many you can get. See if you get enough of them to wall paper your bedroom. See how many it takes before you get your first acceptance. That’s right. Think positive. Tell yourself under no uncertain terms that you WILL get your work accepted. Attitude is everything.

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The above is not a magic formula. Sure, you’re going to feel rejected when you get one of those letters. But if you turn it into a positive it will help you get through the number of rejections that are surely to come.

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Just remember to tell yourself one thing. If you give up, you have no chance. As long as you keep trying there is always hope.

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Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Writing Tips

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