Monday, June 18, 2012

You Cannot Take It Personally

Here comes the "no duh" statement of the century. Publishing is a tough business to be in. But in reality, one of the things that makes this business so tough is not the long hours. It isn't the rounds of editing you go through, or even the times when you suffer from the worst case of writer's block ever. What makes it tough are those times when someone tells you the writing is not going to work.

Those rejection letters are tough. But they happen.

As a writer, you simply cannot take that response of "No" personally. In the end, it had nothing to do with you (hopefully). Editors, agents and contests are simply looking at your piece of writing without a face attached to it. And yes, there will be more times that we care to have, when someone simply says no to a project.

As I read through the submissions that cross my desk, I am never thinking about who the writer is on the other side of that query. Sure, I might see where they live, or their publishing and professional career, should they have chosen to divulge that information, but, when it comes down to it, I am simply looking at the material they have sent.

The writing may be good, but I didn't get as excited about the project as I would have wanted to. This is no reflection on you as a person.

The premise might be great, but the writing not that strong. Again, this is not about you.

The writing and premise might be great, but the timing for marketing, or the impossibility of marketing the story may be the issue. Again - not about you.

I do have to say, (and I am sure other agents have felt the same way) that I did take things personally in the beginning. Darn it! I loved that story so why on earth are the agents rejecting me. Is it because I am a guy? Is it because I am new? Of course I had all the answers to these questions, but, I have to say, those answers were not quite accurate.

Why did they reject the story? It didn't work for them. It was as simple as that.

So, what do you do to overcome this? Feel free to take that "no response" scream at it and throw a fit. But, after that is done, take a breath, smile and tell yourself it is time to get back to writing. The story was rejected and it wasn't you!



  1. Thanks for the reminder. I haven't started querying yet, but I have read enough of this time of information, that I hope I will be tough enough.

    But, I can also see how it would feel personal when the story has become so much apart of me. It's like telling me something negative about my children.

  2. Okay the NICE thing is I haven't cried over a rejection yet. I'm glad about that. It wasn't until recently that I have followed up with a short story rejection and asked why it was rejected. When I learned why, I wasn't surprised and realized it WAS a flaw I was hoping would be overlooked. It wasn't obviously. My goal for rejection is to learn from it somehow. My second goal is to not cry when I get a face to face critique that isn't good.