: A Five Step Process
Rejection is a fact of every writer's life. Whether you're on the query-go-round, submitting to editors or stalking the interwebs for reviews on your book, writers are always going to have to deal with people who don't love or even like your work.
We've been rejected. A lot. In fact, we've got black belts in the fine art of dealing with rejection, so here are some tips for surviving without cutting your ear off or something:
Step 1: Depression
Traditionally when we're dealing with rejections of any sort we like to maneuver ourselves into the fetal position and cry. While we've found this technique to be somewhat unproductive it is an important step in the process. You absolutely need to give yourself a little bit of time to wallow. The thing about rejection is that it's always personal and it almost always hurts. So go ahead and eat that pint of ice cream or call your mom and cry. Rejection is tough. You deserve it.
Step 2: Anger
After we've polished off all the ice cream and spent a day or two mooning around, we typically start to get a little angry. I mean, who does the rejector think they are anyways? What do they really know about writing? Clearly they have no taste and will spend the rest of their lives regretting their decision to reject our work. You'll be tempted to do something rash when you're in the anger stage, but do yourself a favor and resist that urge. Telling an agent or editor to suck it isn't going to change their opinion of your work and writing a scathing response to that nasty on Amazon isn't going to make readers buy your book, you'll just look like a jack hole. Above all things try not to look like a jack hole, ok? It's just not worth it.
Step 3: Acceptance
Once you're past depression and anger you start to accept the rejection. You begin to realize that maybe that editor or agent just wasn't a good fit for you. You remind yourself that good writing is subjective. Sometimes after we've been rejected we like to look up one of our favorite books on Amazon and read the one star reviews. Bottom line: a book may be a critical masterpiece or a NY Times Bestseller, but there will always be people that hate it. Rest assured that you're in good company.
Step 4: Growth
After you've managed to accept the rejection, you'll finally be ready to give it an objective read and see if you can learn anything from it. This is one of the most important steps in the process. Obviously, not every rejection is going to offer productive feedback, but every rejection can be a learning experience. When you're ready, take a good long look at the rejection and try to figure out what you can take away from it. When we racked up rejections from agents back when we queried our first (and doomed) novel we pretty much taught ourselves to write based on the feedback from agents. The right kind of rejections will help you grow as a writer if you let them.
Step 5: The Mental Finger
Theoretically after you've gone through the first 4 stages in the process enough times you'll find success as a writer. You'll land a great agent, finally get your book published and maybe even earn yourself a starred review. We've all heard the stories about editors or agents who regret not seeing the potential in Harry Potter or The Princess Diaries and it's sort of lovely to think of the shoe being on the other foot. After all that hard work you're definitely entitled to some gloating, but just make sure you gloat quietly. Go ahead and mentally flip them all off. You know you want to. Besides, there's a good chance you'll be starting back at Step 1 after you've written the next book, so you might as well enjoy it while you can.
Thank you, Lisa and Laura!