Submission Rejected? Tips for Moving on.

November 14, 2014

One thing freelance writers learn early in their careers is rejection is commonplace. When I taught my “Writing for Fun and Profit” series, I reminded students it was their submissions, not them, being rejected.

So what is rejection anyway? It’s simply a decision to not purchase or publish a submission. The decision could be based on business such as the periodical just published a similar article, or it could be based on emotion such as the decision-maker simply didn’t like the title.

If you’ve done your homework before submitting, your acceptance rate should improve. I know because I sold the first thing I submitted to Victoria magazine, to Woman’s World Weekly magazine, and to Mpls/St.Paul magazine. I also sold the first weekly newspaper column I submitted to newspapers in Oklahoma (when I lived there) and in Minnesota. The key to my acceptance rate was I did my homework and studied what each publisher published, wrote in the style of the publication, and was professional in my submission.

Yet, I’ve had my share of rejection as well and coping with rejection is what this post is about. Here are some tips to help you.

  • Understand that rejection isn’t personal–it’s just part of the writing business. Placing your submission on the editorial calendar, not your writing, is what’s being rejected.
  • Move on. I told my students to create a list of publishers/publications for each manuscript. If a rejection notice came in, cross the name of that publisher off, and submit to the next one on the list.
  • Keep writing. The writing world is full of stories about how many times well-known authors were rejected before finally being published. Look for these stories if it will encourage you to keep writing.
  • Learn from your writing. Sometimes a manuscript isn’t ready to be published, but every time you write, you have the opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Realize editors make mistakes. Editors are people. They don’t have crystal balls to show them what will or won’t succeed in the marketplace. They want the writers they work with to be successful.
  • Think about something worse than rejection that could happen to you. Doing that will help you regain your perspective and see the rejection for what it is–part of being a writer.
  • Remember that you can’t be published if you don’t write–and submit!

Hope these tips help you the next time your submission is rejected. Keep these tips handy and when a rejection comes in, simply say, “Next!” and submit to the next name on your list. Happy writing!