How to Handle A Rejected Submission

As a writer, receiving a rejection is inevitable, but there is always a chance the text you have been working on still has opportunity at different publishing houses. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein were both rejected upon first review, and these two are not the only famous books thwarted by publishers. Sometimes you must submit to multiple publishing houses before someone can see the merit of your work, and that’s okay. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tactics to utilize your rejection to craft a stronger manuscript.

1) Don’t be Disheartened by Rejection

Rejection is always difficult to cope with, but the vast majority of books aren’t accepted in just one submission. As mentioned above, we are all fond of some books which faced rejection multiple times before being picked up by a publishing house. These books had authors behind them who believed in the importance of their works and so should you.

2) Don’t Stop Submitting

All publishing houses aren’t looking for the same types of works or even have the same types of people working for them. There are a vast number of publishers who specialize in different works, and you should explore all your options. Try to find publishing houses whose previous published books are similar to the book your submitting. Are you trying to publish a science fiction novel? Look for a publisher who specializes in everything science fiction. Rejection from one publisher, or even multiple publishers, isn’t a death sentence for your work. Keep submitting!

3) Listen to Feedback from Publishers

Publishers will occasionally tell you what they see as critical errors, and this can be a good opportunity to improve your manuscript. You shouldn’t expect feedback from the editors (they often don’t). If they do address problems within your manuscript, they will generally address global issues. Global issues can range from plot coherence to the constant misspelling of a word throughout your manuscript. Take it as an opportunity to improve your manuscript for other publishers, and don’t be afraid of submitting a revised manuscript to the same publishing house.

4) Objectively Edit Your Manuscript

As a writer, it can be difficult to look objectively at your work, but this is necessary to become a great writer. Try asking yourself why your manuscript was rejected. Is the writing appropriate for the intended audience? Are your characters believable? Did you follow the submission guidelines? Are you considering assumptions about shared knowledge? Look for plot holes and inconsistent formatting. These are all things to consider when receiving a rejected manuscript.

5) Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

A misconception about writing is that it’s a one-person job. But typically the best, most enjoyable works are produced when multiple people contribute to the production of a work. That’s not to say you need to rewrite with a co-author, but having a third-party proofread and suggest ideas can vastly enhance your manuscript’s readability. Because writers can become overly attached to their manuscript, a third-party allows for an unbiased opinion which can help find critical flaws within a work. Just be sure to find someone who is not attached to your work already.

It’s crucial to understand that rejection is a normal part of the writing process. Every writer has confronted rejection countless times. Embracing rejection is difficult, but can be one of the most helpful tools for a writer if utilized correctly. Often times, writers will submit their manuscript for years before a publishing house accepts it. But in the end, some of the most prolific, award-winning books are rejected dozens of times before being published. If you ever feel down about your rejection, take a look at this list of some of the most rejected books of all time and remember that you’re in good company.

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