Dealing with rejections can be one of the most frustrating aspects of being a writer. Chances are you’ve spent ages polishing a piece to get it ready for submission, and as far as you’re concerned there’s nothing more than can be done to your article – it’s perfect. Then in comes the rejection from editor; maybe there’s some feedback for you, but in many cases it will be a form letter. Common reactions from writers in this position range from anger to denial that your work deserved the rejections. I’ve teamed up with writer Susie White from Australian Help, who says that “being rejected hurts – you can pour your heart out on a page or make yourself very vulnerable, and having this coldly refused can be heart breaking”.
Don’t take it personally
The main thing to remember when dealing with rejections is that it’s not personal, and in most cases doesn’t even reflect on your writing ability. Even the best writers have received many rejections through their careers, and it’s a necessary stage on the road to getting published. Here, we’ll outline some of the most common reasons that editors reject work, what to do when it happens to you, and how to use the opportunity to learn and improve.
Probably the most common reason that well-written work gets rejected by editors is that the piece you’ve submitted doesn’t fit with their specific guidelines about what they need for their publication. All magazines have an angle, approach and brand which they must maintain to retain a distinctive identity and appeal to their dedicated readership. Another issue might be that they’ve already got too many submissions, or they have enough work already on a similar topic to yours, in which case you can go back to the drawing board to bring a new and unique angle to your piece, or submit it to another editor who might be looking for something more like what you’ve produced.
Use your rejections to your advantage
Some writers have even gone as far as to say that rejections should be something you welcome. After all, what’s a rejection if not an opportunity to learn – and the fact that you’re receiving them means you’re putting your work out there! Author Kim Liao argues that you should aim for 100 rejections every year, counting on the fact that if you send that many out, you’re bound to get some acceptances too. It’s also a key way to get over the fear of putting your work out there, and while the first few rejections might hurt, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you harden to them and a more pragmatic attitude emerges.
Be wise when you submit work
Some publications don’t require you to have the fully written piece available upon submission. Remember this, and use it your advantage when you submit work. Your email to an editor can contain the opening lines of your piece, and a summary of how it will continue, highlighting the relevance it has for the particular publication you are pitching to. This allows you to really tailor your suggestions to the editor and to take into account some of their comments for your piece before you sink all that time into actually writing it.
Pay attention to presentation and length
Although it’s true that the content of your writing is more important than the quality in many cases, clear and well-edited work means less for the editor to do, and presenting your work in the best way possible is crucial in getting it accepted for publication. Make sure you have been polite and concise in your communication to the editor (no one likes reading through pages of text waiting for you to get to the point), use proper punctuation and grammar, a professional and clear font and pay attention to the styles used by the publication to which you’re submitting –Gary Hills, editor of UK Writings, says “if you can find a style guide, even better”, noting that many magazines have a pre-made document which all their staff writers have to follow. “If you comply with this,” he continues, “it shows that you’ve done your research and also ultimately means that the editor will have to do less work”.
Always check your work for plagiarism, as this is one way to get yourself blacklisted as no reputable publications wants to be accused of copying content, and nor should any good writer. A variety of plagiarism checkers are available online, such as Academized and Plagium.
Also pay attention to the length that pieces of writing published where you want to get yours published tend to be. If yours is far too long or short, this minimises the chances of it being selected, as does having a slow opening; it’s important to hook your readers, but also the editor, into your work as early as you can. There are many resources online which will teach you how to write effectively for a variety of genres, be it fiction, personal essays or more journalistic pieces.
Lastly, remind yourself that writing is not easy. It takes extensive practice and a great deal of patience to hone your craft, and rejection is a natural part of this process. The best authors and journalists around today have undoubtedly gone through exactly the same sorts of rejections you are experiencing – probably more! The best advice that a writer who keeps getting rejections can receive is to keep writing, and to not be scared or disheartened by rejections. You’re still doing more than those who aren’t submitting work, you’re still a writer.
Time to practice…
Now, after having read this article and considered the reasons your work might be being rejected and solutions for what you can do about, here’s a task for you to put these lessons into practice. Dig back into your past pieces of writing (you didn’t throw them in the trash, did you) and choose one which was rejected. It doesn’t matter if it was a blog post, article, or piece of fiction. Choose one which you were proud of and which it will be tricky for you to pick out the faults with. One where you really couldn’t understand why it was rejected.
Now, go and find the rejection you received and try to work out exactly why that piece was rejected and how you might be able to change it. Then spend fifteen to twenty minutes working on the piece and improving it. You might even find you’re able to take it to a new level and that you want to resubmit it to another publication. Even if not, this exercise will be a valuable learning opportunity. Why not share what you’ve learnt in the comments?
Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years of experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs at Buy essay. She is passionate about covering topics on self-development, writing, blogging and others. She believes that constant learning is the only way to success.