Lollipops and rejection letters

Rejection letters are a fact of life for writers.

Every writer gets rejected.


Perhaps I should qualify that statement. Every writer who submits to publishers gets rejection letters. No-one is exempt; it’s a fact of life for a writer. If you keep on submitting stories, poems, articles and novels to publishers you are going to get rejected. Not every piece of writing will get accepted, nor will everything you slave over will see publication. Fact.

No writer likes getting rejection letters. I’ve sometimes heard speakers or read in books about writing that we should not be upset about getting a rejection letter. Everyone gets them, and the publisher is rejecting the story or poem and not you. While there is some truth in that, getting such a letter still hurts. Sometimes – many times – we find it hard to divorce ourselves from our babies, er… writing. You don’t like my poem – therefore you don’t like me. It’s an easy conclusion to come to, and it can be quite harmful. And it hurts. I know; I’ve had my fair share of rejection. A few years ago I sent out over 30 submissions to various publishers and every one was rejected. I nearly gave up writing.

The good news

Now for some good news. Not every letter from a publisher is a rejection. If you keep on writing the best work you can produce and keep on sending it out, sooner or later you will see your name in print. And when you get an acceptance the feeling is great. You are entitled to do the Writer’s Dance. Yell and scream in excitement. Tell your family and  friends. And then get back to writing and do it all over again.


Now what about the “lollipops” mentioned in my title? I’ve just read a wonderful story about “How to turn rejection letters into a positive.” The writer of this article learned a valuable lesson from lollipops.

  • Keep working hard at your writing.
  • Only submit your very best work.
  • Keep on striving to improve.
  • Keep on sending out your writing.
  • Enjoy those acceptance letters.

Good writing.

Why manuscripts get rejected by publishers

Over the years I’ve had my share of rejection as a writer.

Many of these rejections were for poems, articles and stories I had submitted to magazines. Some were for children’s novels I have written. Some of the rejections were blunt; they didn’t want to publish my writing and no reasons were given. Some were polite and very brief. A few were encouraging and praised my writing. One notable rejection was a full page of suggested changes and a request to resubmit. (I’m still working on that one.)

Rejections come in many forms, but the reaction of the writer is often the same; devastation – or, at best, disappointment.  Writers who give out advice about writing on web sites or at conferences or who teach writing classes glibly say, ‘Don’t take rejection personally. They are rejecting the writing – not you.’ That’s all well and good, but it is still deflating to get a rejection letter, especially something like a novel you’ve slaved over for five or more years.

I’ve also had it drummed into me that I should always work on a manuscript until it is the very best I can present. From what I have heard and read, far too many would-be authors submit shoddy writing to publishers or agents. They don’t realise how easy this makes it for the editor or agent to reject that writing very quickly, perhaps in a few seconds. It’s a very competitive field. In order to get published your writing has to rise well above the ordinary, the mundane and the truly awful.

For a longer discussion on this topic I’d like to recommend the following article. The title says it all.

Submit your writing

‘You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.’

Isaac Asimov


This is one of my failings.

Guilty as charged.

I write, write, write and have no trouble churning out stories and poems and articles. Then they just sit quietly on my computer hard drive or as a printout in a folder. I don’t have a problem with blog posts, but when it comes to sending off my other writing to publishers or to competitions I am sadly lacking.

I think the problem stemmed from a period several years ago when I did send out quite a few pieces to various competitions and print publishers. In a very short period of time I had many dozens of rejections and not a single acceptance. I am talking about more than 30 rejections over a short space of time. It messed with my mind. I became discouraged and subsequently depressed.

I really haven’t fully recovered, which is silly I know. The only way to get published is to send out your best writing.

And when the inevitable rejections come, the story, article, poem or novel needs to go out to another potential publisher. Sometimes the piece needs rewriting, severe editing or other forms of improvement, especially if the previous editor you sent it to gives feedback along these lines. There is no other way.

Note to self: submit those manuscripts!

Note to wife (if she reads this): Yes dear, I will send them off. Promise.

Good writing.