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Rejection can be swift

The hardest thing for a writer to cope with is rejection. We all pour so much of ourselves into our writing; we invest it with so many of our hopes, that it’s impossible not to take rejection as a personal blow.

So, what should you do? Partly it depends on the form of the rejection. If your work is returned to sender with the flimsiest of covering notes – ‘unfortunately we don’t believe we could publish your book successfully in the current market’ – you probably sigh, curse and move on without much pause for thought. Perhaps you console yourself with the belief that ‘they never even read it’. I’m sure many of you will have examples of that.

The shortest rejection I received was this week: “it’s a no”.

Sometimes the rejection is more reasoned and given with regret. Perhaps it’s even accompanied by some notes on what let the book down, at least in the eyes of that reader. This can be even more irritating – to have got close and still be rejected – but it’s valuable feedback. You should think hard about it, try to understand what’s being said, and ask yourself honestly if the reader has a valid point.

Having done that, the important process of editing (further editing) might begin again.

Your approach will depend on the nature of the comments and of your work. Is it a practical book or literary fiction? You might want to stick to your guns but reconcile yourself to the book not being published. Or you might want to put yourself in a publisher’s position and think about what will help your book sell better.

The important thing is not to give up. It takes persistence and the whole process can be dispiriting. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t it’s unlikely that a publisher will. So try to use rejection as positively as you can.

Bounce back with a determination to prove them wrong. Or bounce back with a better version of the book – or with a completely different book that comes out of the rethinking process. Remember that you write for a reason – it satisfies a desire inside you, and that always makes writing worthwhile. So keep writing.

Have you had to deal with rejection?

John Simmons is author of 26 ways of looking at a blackberry, published by A&C Black. He blogs at Blogberry. For more info visit his website 26 Fruits

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