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How do you handle rejection?

Many successful authors have rejection letters hidden away in the back of a drawer. I like Stephen King’s attitude – he staked his letters to the wall behind his desk, a gesture which is at once both practical and appropriate for his genre. But whatever you do with yours, first smooth them out from the crumpled ball of despair and see if they offer any clues as to why the story was rejected. 

The only message to take from rejection is that something isn’t working. It could be the way the submission is presented; that the query has been sent to the wrong people; that the writing style needs improving; or that the story itself isn’t suitable. So even though the rejection stings, this is actually a chance to be seized with both hands. Research your chosen destination, check over your work, revise and redraft if needed, and make your next submission super-shiny. 

Sometimes a rejection will also include words of advice. This is as rare as a Dodo feather and just as valuable. Pay attention to any suggestions offered – agents and publishers do not run a charity, and they genuinely want you to send them a fantastic story. Any hints therefore should be deeply considered. Above all, the bottom line is to stay professional. Rant privately as much as you like but never vent frustrations online. Aspiring authors are not the only ones who use Google. 

My chosen way to handle rejection begins with a tragic look into the middle distance. This will be followed up by a dejected mooch around the house and the desire for the largest piece of cake I can find. But pretty soon I will square my shoulders, pick up that story, and ponder it afresh. For more information:

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Twitter: @jayneferst

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