Thursday, April 3, 2014

Best Method for Handling Rejections (and getting published)

Nobody likes to be rejected. Even the most seasoned, thick-skinned, successful writers hate getting rejections.
Unfortunately, for aspiring authors rejection isn't just a passing disappointment - it's a way of life.

As a writer, you can count on getting hundreds of rejections. And - I hate to say this - your hundredth rejection will sting just as much as the first.

At some point, you will be tempted to throw in the towel.

Don't do it. Try my foolproof method instead.

The method

Before I explain my tried-and-true method for handling rejections, I have to preface it with the admonition that it will take a little organizational work on your part. Ideally, you should do this before you start submitting your work. After all, you want to avoid as much pain as possible. Of course, if you have already started submitting your work and are in the throes of an existential crisis, it still isn't too late.

1) Make a 'top 50 list.' Find 50 places to submit your work and rank them in order of desirability. (For example, if you are submitting a story, the top slot could be the New Yorker.)

If you are submitting a short story, go here, and find 50 literary magazines. 

If you are submitting query letters to agents, go to Agentquery and make a list of 50 agents for your genre. (Be sure to check the Agents Seeking Clients page.)

Find resources for Science Fiction/Fantasy writers here.

Resources for Children's and YA writers are here.

Resources for Romance writers are here.

Resources for Mystery/Thrillers are here.

Resources for Historical Fiction writers are here.

Go HERE for hundreds of short form markets

2) If your top slot says "no simultaneous submissions" then, immediately after getting your rejection, submit to the #2 spot on your list.

3) If your top slots - or your remaining slots - don't say "no simultaneous submissions" submit to all of them at once. One of them will take you, and your waiting time will be considerably reduced.

4) If you are submitting to agents, make sure you revise and hone your query letter as you submit, but keep working your way down your list. Don't stop. You may need to revise your query letter along the way if nobody asks for a partial or a full.

5) When you get close to number 50 (and I have done this more than once), make a new 'top 50 list.'

Do this doggedly - without pausing to contemplate the futility of writing or the pointlessness of existence -  and you will do just fine. And keep writing! Having several of your works making the rounds on your 'top 50' will increase your chances of success.

You may find, as I did, that by using this technique you will not only avoid the rejection blues, you will get published.


  1. Great advice! Something I will hopefully need in the near future... Rejections are awful, but they are part of writing books unfortunately.

  2. A lovely and highly useful post! Rejection is something we all have tasted, I'm sure.
    I took the liberty of reblogging it. Of course I mentioned the source and didn't post all, but sent people to read the original on your page. Hope it's OK.

  3. When I was first writing I used to keep all my rejections in a manilla folder. It became the largest folder I owned. I got rejected so many times it was sad. Then I realized they weren't rejecting me, just the timing or my piece. It took a long time but I was cool with rejections then and threw them all way!

  4. I made such a list and every time I receive a rejection I submit another query.

  5. This is really great encouragement, thank-you for sound advice Erica.


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