Don’t Take No for an Answer: Dealing With Rejection, by Tania Casselle

If you’re reading this, you are no doubt all fired up to submit your fiction to the many great literary journals featured here, or to hit ‘send’ on queries for your novel. May the writing gods smile on you to receive an acceptance first time out, but if you’re in the writing game for any amount of time, sooner or later you’ll receive a heart-sinking “Sorry, this isn’t for us.” As you rip up the letter and kick the nearest object that won’t kick back, THIS is the time to remember the real secret to publishing success: Only one thing differentiates between decent writers who are published, and decent writers who are not published, and that is perseverance. You can’t send one story to one journal and, if it’s rejected, throw your hands in the air and stop submitting. Well, you can of course, but then you’ll join the long line of other decent but unpublished writers who did the same thing. And to persevere on the writer’s path, you need to be able to handle rejection.

“That’s no secret,” you say, citing examples of best-selling writers now hallowed in the literary canon who were rejected umpteen times before some blessed editor or agent saw their potential. And you’re right; everyone talks about rejection as part of the publishing biz. (Just hang out with authors at the bar, and the conversation soon turns to this sorry subject.)

But being told rejection is a normal part of the process, and dealing with it when it happens to you are two different things. Rejection stings if you have a thin skin, and the discouragement (or even the fear of rejection in advance) has stopped many a talented writer in their tracks. They give up far too soon and remain unpublished. You don’t plan to be one of those writers, do you? Good. So let’s put the realities of rejection into perspective. (While we mainly refer here to short story submissions for simplicity, the same applies to queries to agents or publishing houses.)


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