Rejections: An Author Weighs In

There has been an awful lot of talk about rejections on the Internet of late. I’ve even had my own say. Now, prolific author, Stacey Kennedy shares her thoughts! Stacey, take it away!


Rejection…it hurts!

If you’re a new author, you’ll need to grow thick skin before sending off that first query letter. Now I’m not saying you might be one of the lucky ones that get good news right away. You could be. But…for most of us, your inbox will start filling up with those letters you will soon grow to hate. The rejection letter.

So how do you deal with it?

Cry? Scream at the top of your lungs? Toss your laptop out the window? I’m sure you’ll want to do one of those things, but what you don’t do is respond to the letter. Unless it’s a lovely, thank you for your time. By all that is holy, keep your angry thoughts to yourself. I’m sure many of you have heard of an author who has sent a nasty email back in response to a rejection letter. Maybe even laughed at it—I know I have. But trust me, it’ll get you nowhere. Agents and editors have a close working relationship with each other—they talk—and the last thing you want is to be labeled a diva! It’s a sure way to see the number of rejection letters in your inbox increase.

The thing to remember is…its one person’s opinion. As a reader, I’m sure you have picked up a book, read it and thought to yourself, “Ugh. I hated that book!” Just as you have your opinions on what makes a great story, so do agents and editors. But just because your story doesn’t work for one agent or editor, doesn’t mean someone else isn’t going to love it. (SO TRUE!! Oh. Sorry, Stacey. As you were saying…)

So don’t burn your bridges. In many cases, agents might pass on a project, but hand it over to someone else in their agency. Now if you happen to respond with some horrible message saying nasty things, that open door you received will slam shut. Forever.

No matter how many rejection letters you receive, they still sting, and it’s hard to swallow. No one wants to be rejected. But the best advice I can tell you is find a friend; another author going through the same process who you can vent to. There’s nothing wrong with letting off a little steam because the story you love isn’t receiving the attention you think it deserves.

Once that’s out of your system, open a new email message and send out another round of query letters. Go to conferences and meet with your dream agents. Enter your story into contests. Do whatever you have to do to sell your story!  If you get feedback from an agent, consider it and if you agree, apply it to your work. But always keep moving forward.

Rejection letters are painful. They always will be. But the key is to not let it drag you down. Keep writing. Keep querying. And keep believing in your work!

Thanks for your thoughts, Stacey. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Posted on September 16, 2011, in Advice, literary agency, manuscripts, queries, rejection and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Thanks Stacey! I needed the encouragement.

    I don’t think I’ll ever grow the thick skin, so I’ve invested in the antidote–it’s like cortisone cream for the rejection-sting–pistachio ice cream! (Only you eat it–all analogies break down at some point right?) 🙂

  2. Awesome stuff Stacey. Rejection is hard, but motivating. Good for you.

  3. Thanks so much Stacy! Just look at ALL the multiple comments about the rejection process. So many people have so many opinions– many based upon personal experience etc. An agent HAS to consider their own personal experience, likes and dislikes in their selection process, which is really NO different than how WE, as readers, choose a novel to read. When I was told I was too short to play quarterback, I did everything I could to prove the coaches wrong. Rejection actually motivates me to write better because in reality there truly ARE no perfect books. I’m never that in love with a story of mine that I couldn’t at least attempt to improve upon it some. Writers need to face the facts that there’s a TON of competition out there, and sooner or later if their MS is amazing, it will find a place to belong.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more, Don! Rejection motivated me too…well, after I vented a little. 😉

    • I guess I’ve just learned how to trust professional opinions. When I was in the music business, at conferences I would literally sit through hours and hours of critique sessions for people who would have a convoluted opinion of their songs. Many of those songs were terrible, yet the songwriters “thought” they had the next big hit. I still remember the first time in Houston Texas when a producer/publisher picked apart one of MY songs and actually LOVED it, was ready to sign me on as a writer, then she got moved to a different division in California that no longer handled the type of music I was writing anymore. Still, her expert opinions mattered, even when she told me that my baby was ugly. Let’s face it. Sometimes what we write really isn’t very good. God bless the people who are willing to point that out to us, so we can make it better, huh? I’ve said this on may forums before, but I really don’t want to write a book that isn’t very good yet it still makes it on the shelves. I want outstanding not mediocre. Anything less, and I’d be cheating my readers. Thanks again, Stacey!

  4. Aw, Trace…you’re too wonderful to have nasty things said to you! 😉

  5. Gr8 job Stacey.
    As an Acqs Director for LSB, you won’t believe the NASTY letters I’ve recv’d from a Rejection. It’s sometimes painful on this end too.
    And a note to aspiring authors, by being nasty to the Acqs Director/Publisher, whomever reads your story, there is a list compiled to either never look at a submission from said author again, or just a list to remind the publisher/submission reader to tread carefully if we should happen to read another sub by said author again.

    Gr8 advice for all, Stace!

  6. LOL, Eve! Yes, I’ve wanted to throw a few at the wall…there is no doubt about it! Maybe those are the ones you should print so you can do that! 😉

  7. The problem with email rejections is you don’t get the immediate satisfaction of balling it up and throwing it at the wall. lol. Great blog 🙂 And thanks for reminding that not everyone’s taste is the same. Just look at any 5 star book and you’ll see some 1 one stars to go along with the rave reviews.

  8. “It is oh so easy to react first, regret a lifetime.” — Ain’t that the truth, Margie!

  9. Thank you for stopping by, Heaven! That is my hope also! 🙂

  10. Excellent points. Sadly with the internet being what it is, it is oh so easy to react first, regret a lifetime. I hope this will wake a lot of people up before they make a hasty and rude response to rejection. Those replies and blog posts might be a great source of therapy, but in the end you are only hurting yourself.

    I think we all should try to remember how subjective writing is and that one house/agent’s rejection just gives way to an opportunity for another house/agent. You just have to believe that “perfect” house/agent is waiting for you to find them. 🙂

    Margie H

  11. Thanks for your post, Lou! Interesting read indeed!

  12. Great advice! We’ve all been there and it is tough! Hopefully this blog will reach the right person and help them along their journey to becoming a published author

  13. Here’s an interesting essay on rejection from the fiction editor of the Atlantic–

    It applies to literary short stories, of course, but it’s also of general interest:

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