Every author wants readers and publishers to appreciate his or her work. Some are fortunate enough that everyone who reads their books eagerly anticipates “the next book” as soon as they finish a final chapter in a previous book. However, most writers usually experience rejection at some point in their creative journey.
Having your writing rejected by a publisher or readers can be a tough “pill to swallow.” Developing coping skills can help you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and forge ahead, either to revise the work that was rejected or to move on to new projects. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re not cut out for the writing industry just because one (or several) of your books have been rejected.
Best-selling author Neil Gaiman has advice for rejected writers
Neil Gaiman has written many best-selling novels, including “Coraline,” “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” and the eight-part special edition comic series, “Marvel 1602.” The following list includes several helpful tips attributed to Gaiman for writers who have been hit hard by rejection:
- Allow yourself time “to mourn,” if you feel sad about a rejection. It’s okay to take a break from writing to focus on other (happier) things, then return to your work when you feel better.
- Try to detach (personally) from a writing rejection. A rejection is not a reflection against you, personally.
- Share your feelings with a trusted family member or friend and embrace their support.
- Wade your way through rejection by staying productive with your writing projects. Stick to a schedule, set daily goals and keep moving forward.
There’s really no wrong or right way to handle rejection as a writer. Figure out what helps you cope, and do it. Some writers fare best with a “get right back on the horse” mentality while others need time to think and process and heal. Whatever works best for you is the right thing to do.
Guess which best-sellers were rejected when first submitted?
Another thing to keep in mind if you’re a writer whose work has been rejected is that you’re in good company. Some of the most famous authors of all time have undergone rejection; in fact, the next list shows some BIG sellers that didn’t make it through their first cuts:
- Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
- The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Carrie, by Stephen King
- Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
King’s novel was rejected a whopping 30 times before Double Day agreed to publish it in 1974! The author saved every rejection letter, saying that it motivated him to keep working toward his goal. Think of these great writers the next time you receive a rejection letter. Remember where they ended up and believe that you can, too. Also, it’s helpful to know where to seek support if you need guidance from someone well-versed and experienced in the publishing industry.