“We regret to inform you …”
None of us wants to read an email that begins this way.
In the Olden Days
The best rejection letter I ever received via snail mail (remember that?) was a barely legible bullet list. The final option on the page was “Because our mother told us to.” Talk about taking the sting out of rejection!
Many of us have been around long enough to remember dropping our query in the mail along with a self-addressed stamped envelop. Then, we’d wait and wait and wait for the agent, editor, or publisher to get back to us. Many of them wouldn’t consider our query if we approached even one other individual or company with the same submission.
Traditional publishing of books, magazine articles, or greeting cards wasn’t (and isn’t) for the faint of heart. But no matter how thick-skinned a writer is, it doesn’t mean they’re immune to the effects of rejection … even if the publisher’s mother did tell them not to take on the project.
I had so many rejections at one point that I stapled them all together and used them as an object lesson at church. At least I was doing what many others only dreamed of doing. I was seeking to be published and was putting my work out there time and time again, knowing it could be rejected repeatedly.
Fast forward a couple of decades …
Times, They are A’Changin’
In the 21st century, writers have more options than ever before. Traditional publishing, self-publishing, indie publishing. Physical books, ebooks, audiobooks. Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook.
Some things, however, have not changed. The possibility that someone (or several someones) will reject our heartfelt, worked and reworked and reworked again words is still very real. In fact, now critics can malign our writing, our intelligence, and our worth as human beings in public forums such as the aforementioned social media outlets plus Amazon, Goodreads, their podcasts, etc., etc., etc.
While there are more roads to publication than ever before, writers must face the certainty that their writing will be not only rejected but also critiqued harshly and loudly. While some criticisms may be worth considering (after you’ve worked through the initial devastation), other opinions aren’t even worth the time it takes to read them. (In fact, many writers choose not to read reviews. They let their readers, editors, and/or publishers determine if they need to make revisions.)
Don’t Fear Rejection
Remember, despite what your harshest critic says, your value as a human being has nothing (zip, zero, zilch) to do with their opinion of you or your writing.
Some adults never outgrew the need to “elevate” themselves by putting others down.
What one person considers a waste of paper and ink or computer code may change another person’s life for the better.
The more you write, the better you’ll get. There are many authors who have either unpublished their first books or, at least, allowed them to fade from the public consciousness. It’s completely normal.
Publishing is not a solo sport. Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish, your team will include some or all of the following people: alpha readers, beta readers, editors (yes, plural), cover designers, agents, publishers … and, most importantly, readers.
Develop your craft. Continue to put it in front of agents, editors, readers … Critics will get wind of your writing. Some will praise it. Some will reject it. Learn from those who have earned the right to speak into your efforts. Glean wisdom from those who haven’t but have pointed out something that could, indeed, make your writing stronger.
And the others? Those who criticize you because they don’t seem to have anything better to do with their time? Yell into a pillow. Eat some ice cream. Have a good cry. And then … remind yourself you are a writer, pick up your pen or head back to your keyboard, and get started on your next piece.
Focus on that person whose life will be better because they read your words … YOUR WORDS!