Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or just getting your foot in the door as an unpaid intern, odds are you’ve been rejected at least once in your life. Maybe your last journal article didn’t make the cut. Maybe they gave that promotion to Mark in sales instead of you. Or maybe yours is among the roughly 250 resumes received for each corporate opening, and you never even got an interview. Whatever the situation is, rejection hurts.
Authors Get the Brunt of It
I’m an author. Some people might say writers make a career out of getting rejected. First, you get rejected by literary agents (over 100 of them if you’re me). These are usually form letter rejections that you know hundreds of other authors are getting. They start with something like, “Thanks for sending your manuscript to me. Unfortunately…” It’s the “unfortunately” that always gets you. It’s where your eyes glaze over, and you know you can stop reading.
Rejection doesn’t just stop there for writers. If you’re one of the lucky ones who actually gets an agent, you then get rejected by editors at publishing houses. These rejections hurt even more because you were just one step away—one person away—from having a book deal.
So you might think that published authors have it made. But no, they also face continual rejection. They get negative reviews posted and shoved in their faces on social media all the time. Of course, authors are not supposed to respond. They simply have to grin and bear it.
Handling Rejection, Author-Style
So how can you learn to handle rejection like an author does? Below are a few tips I’ve learned over the course of my journey:
- First, when rejection strikes, find what makes you happy. A chocolate bar. A warm bath. A nice long run. Do whatever it takes to take the edge off your disappointment and get the dopamine flowing again.
- Next, don’t dwell on the rejection. You may never know why you were rejected. I once got rejected twice in the same week—once because my novel “was too dark” and then because that same novel “wasn’t dark enough.” You can’t make everyone happy. The more time you spend second guessing yourself, the more you’ll spiral into despair and the less energy you’ll have to improve your chances next time.
- Remember to keep creating and learning. Every author knows the only way to deal with the waiting period when you’re anticipating hearing from agents and editors is to write something new. So your article didn’t work. So you didn’t get a raise. Start working on the next article, or talk to your manager about what steps you can take to advance your career. Look into classes or certifications—whatever will put you first in line next time there’s an open position or new opportunity.
Rejected, Rejected, Rejected—Accepted!
For most authors, it’s not their first manuscript that gets them an agent. I know an author who submitted ten manuscripts before snagging an agent. If she’d given up after her first or second try, her stories never would’ve been shared with the world. And me? It took me two manuscripts to sign with my literary agent—not to mention that she was one of the agents who rejected my first novel.
Remember Churchill’s Words: “Never Give Up”
In the end, it’s all about what those rejections teach you and how you respond to them. You can’t give up. You have to come back better, stronger, and more prepared. When you do, you’ll be setting yourself on the path to success. And maybe in a short while it will be your turn—your article will be the one selected, you’ll get that coveted promotion, or it will be your name on the cover of a book the next time you walk into a bookstore.
What are some of the lessons you learned from not making the cut? Leave your comments in the section below because chances are your experience dealing with rejection may help someone else struggling right now.
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