Writers Need To Be Able to Deal With Rejection

Let’s face it, if you’re a writer you are going to run into rejection. Even the very best writers have incurred some form of rejection in their career. It can happen when peers critique your work, when manuscripts rejected by agents and publisher or when readers leave a bad review or comment.

Rejection hurts. It’s brutal.

It can make you want to quit writing. Toss your computer out the window. Hide under the covers while you bawl your eyes out. Use language that would make a longshoreman blush.

Or maybe accept that you might actually be able to improve on what you’ve written.


It’s time to stop treating rejection as something bad. Treat as something positive and use it to make you a better writer. I know, it’s heresy.

People aren’t rejecting you so stop taking it personal. Maybe your work isn’t what the audience enjoys or is looking for? Maybe it still needs more editing? If someone has taken the trouble to provide you with feedback, then use it. Maybe share it with a friend to get some additional advice. If it’s a literary agent, check to see whether your manuscript fits in with their profile and look for a better fit.

Unfortunately, a lot of rejections are useless. If it’s a form letter or template response, you’re not going to learn anything from it. Maybe the rejection makes no sense. So just move on.

Sometimes feedback will be mean-spirited. Not everyone will be diplomatic. So you’re going to need a thick skin. You already know that writing is tough. Sharing what you write is even tougher. Here are a few suggestions I have to get through these rough times.

  1. Remind yourself why you are writing and how much you love writing.
  2. Reach out to other writers for support. Everyone has experienced what you are going through.
  3. Consider self-publishing. I did it and it’s a great way to empower yourself. There are a lot of good stories that no one wants to take a chance on. Take on the risk.
  4. Don’t give up.

Ray Bradbury, said this about rejection: “You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.” He knew a little bit about rejection. Bradbury was rejected over 800 times.

5 thoughts on “Writers Need To Be Able to Deal With Rejection

  1. Mica Scotti Kole says:

    Holy crap, Bradbury was rejected 800 times? That’s so inspiring. I always hear about Rowling getting rejected 80 times and I’m like PSH, I’ve already been rejected over 100 times, 80 really isn’t anything. But 800? Thanks for sharing that detail.

    I like what you say about a thick skin though. As an editor, I know the importance of being able to take criticism, however painful. I have myself cried over criticism of my work, many times. But the work is always better once I apply the criticism. I’m a better writer than I ever could have imagined as a kid, and I’ll only get better from here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • williehandler says:

      I was toughen up by years in the spotlight on a very contentious government policy file. When we work together you will find you don’t need to sugar coat criticism. I’ve been through hell and survived!


  2. ElusiveStory says:

    Sage advice.

    I’m not ready to query agents or publishers yet, and I haven’t self-published anything, so I haven’t been on the receiving end of public criticism. If I get that far, (one day!) I’m sure I’ll be devastated. Private critiques from CPs and beta-readers you trust is one thing; strangers bashing or insulting your “baby” is another.

    I hope I can take such feedback and learn from it (after bawling to my friends).

    But I also hope I will be able to sort the “unhelpful” crictism from the helpful.

    Sometimes readers won’t like a book because they wanted your MC to be a different gender, or because they don’t like your choice of POV, or because it wasn’t the book they were expecting, etc.

    My mother always said you can’t please everyone. And it’s true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • williehandler says:

      It takes a lot of guts to put your work out there. There world is full of rude, cruel jerks. You don’t need everyone’s approval to know what you’ve done is good. The trick is to focus on the constructive criticism and ignore the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

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