Writers, Listen Up: How to Handle the Rejection Letter

In order to be a writer; to officially be a writer…one has to have thick skin.  One has to anticipate rejection and, some would even say, welcome it.  I’ve read plenty of assertions that suggest, for every one acceptance letter a writer receives, she can expect many more rejection letters to arrive before hand.  I suppose then, we ought to assume rejections are but individual steps that lead us closer and closer to acceptance.  And, if nothing else, the rejection letter that comes from a would-be literary agent or publishing house is a testament to the fact that someone saw your work, took the time to consider it, and extended their time further to write back to you. 

The optimal rejection letter, of course, includes a few tidbits of constructive criticism about your piece of work in question, and ends with a statement such as, “we hope to see more work from you in the future.”

Yesterday, I received one such rejection letter. 

The letter was from Writer’s Digest in regard to my entry for the 16th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards.  My book was not selected as a finalist, runner-up or Grand Prize winner.  But I received some awesome feedback on my book and to me, that was worth the $100 entry fee I paid, and the $1.06 postage fee Writer’s Digest paid to send feedback my way.

The submitted books were ranked, based on three categories:  Structure and Organization, Grammar and Cover Design.  They were assigned numbers, with 1 meaning “poor” and 5 meaning “excellent.”  Here’s how A Dozen Invisible Pieces and Other Confessions of Motherhood fared: 

Structure/Organization:  4
Grammar: 5
Cover Design: 5

The judge’s commentary included comments such as: “The author is a capable and intelligent writer, the prose lucid and polished.  One gets the impression that the words flowed effortlessly from her head [on]to the page.  I also liked her sense of humor.”

There was also a call for a greater sense of plot and gripping narrative arc.  (I suppose, when it comes to writing memoir…if you’re “lucky” enough to have experienced “gripping” life situations, you have that much better of a story to tell.)

So, while I would have been utterly ecstatic to receive a different letter in the mail–one that proclaimed me to be a contest winner–I am pleased to have participated in the competition at all and, you can bet, I’ll be competing again in the future!

In the mean time (and to make myself feel better) I revisited the analytics information for my book’s website . 

Every so often, I check back to see how much traffic is passing through the site, and which pages (author bio, excerpts from book, etc.) are most frequently visited.  Here is the update I found:

Since the release of my book, and the launch of the book’s website in March of this year, I have had thousands of visitors from 24 different countries and 47 out of the 51 United States of America.  While a small percentage of those are repeat visitors, the greater percentage are unique visitors to the site.

When I review this information I am reminded of the success of my overall achievement:  A Dozen Invisible Pieces was written as a cathartic measure for me, and published for women like me.  And whether or not it wins awards and prizes and main stream notoriety…or spreads in a viral, word-of-mouth kinda’ way through the women (and men) of this current child-rearing generation…either outcome is a success in my world.

I have a long way to go before I can call myself a famous, successful, recognized or notable author.  But in the mean time, I love what I’m doing, and those little ol’ rejection letters ain’t taking no wind out of my sails!



Filed under Writing and Publishing

4 responses to “Writers, Listen Up: How to Handle the Rejection Letter

  1. To me, if someone praised my sense of humor that would be like winning an Oscar! Well done, my dear.

    My philosophy with handling rejection letters is to always have other manuscripts out, so I can just transfer my hope to them. Also, to start a rejection letter collection, so I’ve just added to it!

    It is so weird, as soon as I saw the subject heading of your post it reminded my of my dream last night in which I received two acceptance letters. They were for little free verse poetry pieces (which I do not currently have floating around looking for a home!) and in my dream I knew that I was on my way to a freelance career selling little meditative pieces and making a name for myself that way… thanks for reminding me! (Though I don’t know exactly how to interpret it, since it seems pretty far-fetched!)

    Congrats again on the great feedback for your book and also your amazing attitude!

  2. Thank you, as always, for your lovely comments, Elena.

    I like the idea of a “rejection letter collection.” People collect rocks and stamps and Beanie Babies…why not rejection letters, too? 😉

  3. ojL5qc Thanks for good post

  4. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page
    layout of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

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