Facing the Inevitable Rejection Letter

Rejection is an inevitability if you ever plan on actually submitting your writing for publication. The only thing writers have control of is how they react to it.

Sometimes that’s difficult, because rejection may be harsh and critical. A rejection slip sent to Rudyard Kipling from the San Francisco Examiner read:

I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.

(Credit: electricliterature.com)
Yeah, this guy had a lot of time on his hands. (Credit: electricliterature.com)

Sometimes so harsh that you may think the editor spent hours writing up that letter, like the one pictured to the right, sent to Gertrude Stein in 1912 by publisher Arthur C. Fifield regarding her manuscript for Three Lives.

Remember, rejection isn’t the end of the world. Rejection doesn’t even mean you or your writing sucks. There are lots of reasons why something you submit might be rejected. For one, the publisher might have a similar piece already in the process of being published. If you’re lucky, you may get a rejection letter that suggests you try again or offers advice on how to better the piece. So don’t sweat it. And just work on getting over it.

How can I get over rejection, you ask? Laugh more. Learn from your mistakes, and start writing again. Have a rejection party; it means you’ve finally joined the club! Keep a file for your rejection letters. One day when you’re a highly-esteemed, bestselling author you can show them off with pride. But above all, keep sending your pieces out.

It may surprise you to discover the amount of times many major publications were rejected before they hit the press. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected fourteen times, and A Wrinkle in Time was rejected twenty nine times. Author Ray Bradbury received nearly 800 rejections before selling his first story, while Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was rejected so many times that the author eventually self-published the book.

– Melanie Figueroa

Melanie Figueroa

Melanie is the Editor in Chief at The Poetics Project. Having earned a masters in writing and book publishing from Portland State University and gained experience as an in-house editor, she now works as a freelance editor and writer. Her favorite book is The Bell Jar. You can follow Melanie on Twitter or Instagram @wellmelsbells.

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