Last Tuesday’s blog post, How To Cope With Rejection obviously hit a chord with many people.

I’ve been contacted by authors and even publishers who have offered their tips on how the ‘process’ works and how to cope with rejection.  I wanted to share these with you and the best way seemed to be through another blog post.

Rejection is so much a part of every artist’s life; no matter what medium they work in. It’s something we all suffer from at some point in our career – generally on many occasions.

It’s something that can set us back, but also make us stronger – it’s something that can make us more determined than ever to succeed.

So what do you do when you have created something with painstaking care, when you have shared a very personal part of you and it has been rejected? How do you pick up the pieces and keep going?

Hazel Edwards (Author of There’s a Hippopotamus On My Roof Eating Cake) offers these tips:

Writers in for the permanent work style of self employed freelancer have to develop ways of sustaining themselves such as:

  • Diversifying, and have emotional investment in other projects at different stages.
  • Re-cycling that rejected project in another format or to another prospective market.
  • Re-read and maybe re-write to higher quality or different audience.
  • Share with small group of peers.
  • Reassure self that the project is high quality but maybe political, timely or economic reasons stopped it.
  • Detour to a new project to feel enthused.
  • Rationalise that one in ten projects gets up.

Sheryl Gwyther (Author of Secrets of Eromanga) says,

1. I’ve never forgotten what another author said once, ‘Regard your rejections as part of your apprenticeship of writing and learn from them.’ Remember, even established writers get rejection letters at times.

2. I keep every rejection letter in a plastic-sleeve folder – it is proof that my work is ‘out-there’, not sitting uncompleted in my computer. And more, importantly, they are concrete proof that the letters have changed over the years.


Dr Tom Bibey (physician, blue grass musician and writer) says:

The main reason for rejection is they can’t figure out how they will make money with it.

Publisher, Andrew confirms that rejection is NOT personal.

Publishers are making their best guess in the circumstances with the resources available. Publishing is gambling and we’re making the best bet we can. But it doesn’t mean a publisher is right, anymore than any other gambler. So much is about the mood of the moment rather than the quality of the work, and it is a myth that the good will always succeed (or the bad fail).


As Wendy Orr (Author of Nim’s Island) says, “It’s important NOT TO GIVE UP!”

I used to use rejection letters as scrap paper for printing out the next ms! But I also always try to honour that grief, because it is a real grief, before letting it go.

(And anyone coping with rejection might like to know that Ark in the Park was rejected by 7 publishers before HarperCollins took it. It went on to win the CBC book of the year, has been published in 6 other countries and is still in print 17 years later. So… don’t give up!)

Carmela Martino (author, writing teacher and blogger at advises:

One of my strategies for coping with rejection is to have a “backup plan”–a list of other places I’ll send the manuscript if it gets rejected. After a brief mourning period, I pull out the plan and get to work.

I also recently read a great interview with YA author Kathi Baron on how she copes with rejection. See

Samantha Clark (writer and blogger at has these tips on how to stop rejections from getting you down:

I remind myself of a couple things:

1) many, many, many now best-selling authors went through heaps of rejections before getting their first book published. In his On Writing book, Stephen King talks about filling a three-inch nail with stacked rejection letters — a lot of paper — before getting his first piece published. Persistence is key, in writing to get the best work and in submitting to find the ‘right’ agent.

2) everybody’s journey is different. A good life lesson for anything, and one my husband is constantly trying to drill into my head. :) Like the butterfly gaining strength through breaking through its cocoon, struggles help us grow and get stronger. Every rejection is an opportunity to either take it personally and give up — never — or evaluate for useful information then move on. We can’t judge our own path by that of other writers. Each path is different. The important part is only that we continue down the path and along the way, pick up whatever helps make us better writers and stronger people.

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner had a great post recently on her Rants & Ramblings blog. it was called You Have to Believe and it was all about believing in the dream of publication.

It’s what keeps all creators creating. You have to have a dream and you have to believe in it.

As Rachelle points out, “We live in an information hungry society” so “our options are expanding, not diminishing”.

Maybe we need to adopt the Hazel Edward’s approach – diversify – look at our writing as a talent that can work across a range of mediums and not restrict ourselves to what we are familiar with.

We need to explore our talent and see where it takes us – there might be writing opportunities out there that we haven’t even considered.

As Samantha mentions, “everyone’s journey is different”. I have found this really works for me – I achieve so much more when I focus on what I’m doing and avoid comparing myself to anyone else’s experiences/successes.

For some people, their lucky break comes early – for others, it can take much longer.

But If we are committed and passionate about our craft, persistent and open-minded, I believe we can start to tip the scales in favour of the acceptances and pave our way to success.

I hope it works for you.




On Saturday afternoon I was on a panel with three other writers at the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne.

Our topic was ‘Never Surrender’ and the topic was basically about rejection and how you cope with it. It got me thinking a lot about the writing process and the disappointment and self-doubt we all go through when our work is rejected.

Our session at the festival was packed out, and obviously, this was a topic that really resonated with writers. So I thought I’d devote this Tuesday Writing Tip to coping with rejection.

First and foremost, I really want to stress that rejection is NOT PERSONAL.

Publishers and agents are NOT rejecting you as a person, nor are they rejecting your ability as a writer.

Chances are that they have said “No” to your project for one of the following reasons:

  • It needs more editing to get it to a publishable standard.
  • They are not publishing/representing your kind of work.
  • They may have just published/accepted for publication a piece of work that is too similar to the one you submitted.
  • Their publishing/representing schedule is full for the foreseeable future.
  • They have tried to market a book on the same topic and it has not been successful.
  • Readers aren’t reading this sort of thing at the moment.
  • They have been flooded with submissions for this genre

These are just some of the things I can think of. I’m sure there are many more reasons why publisher reject our work that have nothing to do with who we are as a person or the way we write.

Getting that rejection letter never gets any easier. It still fills me with doubts about my talents as a writer and my ability to meet the needs of the readers I  want to engage.

But over the years I have developed strategies for coping and I’d like to share them  in the hope that you might find them useful too.

  1. I never pin all my hopes on one submission. I always have more than one submission out in the marketplace at one time. That way if one piece is rejected, I still have hope that the other will be accepted.
  2. If the publisher gives reasons for the rejection I try to take them at face value and not look for a ‘hidden’ agenda.
  3. I read a piece of writing of mine that I am happy with, just to reaffirm that I really can write.
  4. I share my disappointments with a community of other writers who really do understand what It’s like to be rejected and can offer me the appropriate sympathy and encouragement to keep going.
  5. I use the rejection as motivation to keep writing. The sort of philosophy, “If this isn’t good enough I’m damn well going to write something that is”. If I’m busy working on a new project, it stops me from ruminating about the one that just got rejected.
  6. When I’ve got over the initial devastation, I look at the manuscript and try and assess where the rejection has merit. I fix anything that needs fixing and submit the work to another appropriate publisher.

I commend each and every writer for your bravery in putting your work out there – in submitting a ‘piece of yourself’ for scrutiny by others.

Letters to Leonardo took more than ten years from initial idea to publication.

It can be a heartbreaking, but such a rewarding process when your manuscript finds a publisher or agent who loves it as much as you do.

As a writer I still think there are things that can help your chances of being published – to limit the number of rejections that come through your letterbox:

  • Always be professional. Vent your disappointment in private – have chocolate, wine, do yoga, have a mineral bath, do whatever it takes to make you feel better, but always maintain your professionalism in public forums whether it be conferences, social networking or simply meeting with other writers.
  • Then MOVE ON – get your next project out there.
  • Persist – don’t let setbacks dampen your enthusiasm for your writing.
  • Focus on the things you HAVE achieved rather than the ones you haven’t.
  • Measure your successes by what you have achieved personally as a writer – not by how much money you have made or by whether your work is now in bookshops.
  • Celebrate each success no matter how small. An invitation from a publisher or agent to submit your work is something you should be pleased with – it’s the achievement of another milestone.
  • If someone has offered you constructive criticism about your work, take it in the spirit in which it’s intended – use it to hone your craft – use it to become a better writer.

I wish you all the very best with all your works in progress, and hope that this post has given you some strategies to cope with one of  the hardest parts of being a writer.

Happy writing.


P.S. If you’ve got other tips you’d like to share on how to handle rejection, please leave them in the comments section of this post.