Tag Archives: handling rejection

an open letter to all of the editors who have ever rejected my work

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Dear Editors:

Please don’t wince. You may expect a briny, venom-drenched letter layered with defensive, caustic, cussy language. What I intend to do is thank you. Oh, sure, some of your letters made me full body hug the berber (the carpet, not the peoples of North Africa). And yes, Kleenex and Ghirardelli stock spikes in direct correspondence to your correspondence, but when I awake from my chocolate-induced coma, I am genuinely grateful for the work you do. Honest.

Thank you for telling me no when I sent you a manuscript that was greener than Kermit’s backside. I cross-my-heart thought it was perfect when I sent it to you. I was anxious and naïve.

Thank you for the times you took a few moments to offer feedback, an explanation or an invitation to submit again. I know you’re the definition of busy, so your extra effort meant a lot, especially when it probably caused you to shortchange your lunch break, or worse, your sleep.

Thank you for looking out for your readers. I know you have to be ultra selective. Children deserve the best. That’s what I want to give them, but if what I sent falls short, thanks for being honest instead of settling.

Thank you for upholding high standards and expecting writers like me to rise to them. You make us wrestle with our words, use our noodles, elongate our imaginations and demand more from ourselves.

Unflappably yours,


In the end, what makes a book valuable is not the paper it’s printed on, but the thousands of hours of work by dozens of people who are dedicated to creating the best possible reading experience for you. ~ John Green

what about bob wisdom


russian-frogI love the movie “What About Bob?” I do. I love it. I love it for lots of reasons–the humor, the acting, and surprise, surprise, I love the writing.

And despite being a needy, multiphobic, albeit lovable, mess, the comedy’s main character Bob has some real wisdom to share when it comes to dealing with rejection. Oh, what? You’ve never been rejected? Well, that just means you’re not submitting anything to editors. (Bob would tell you to take “baby steps” and get yourself out there, but we’ll save that for another blog.)

There’s a scene in the movie where Bob is riding in a car, chatting with Anna, the daughter of his psychiatrist. The pair is comparing notes on what their lives are like. Anna mentions her fear of rejection. Bob offers this advise:

“You know what I do? I treat people like they’re telephones. If I meet somebody who I don’t think likes me, I just say to myself ‘Bob, this one’s temporarily out-of-order. Don’t break the connection. Just hang up and try again.'”

Is that super lightening brilliant or what?

I suggest framing the submission process using Bob’s sage wisdom. Treat editors like they’re telephones. If an editor doesn’t like your work, don’t break the connection, just try again. You might be able to try again with the same editor or maybe you’d be better off sending your work to someone new. The point is, you don’t roll yourself into a little ball of sniveling dough (like I sometimes do) if you are rejected, you simply try again. And again. And again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. You know the drill.

If it will give you some perverse pleasure/make you feel better, read the rejection stories of the work of some doing-“okay”-for-themselves authors like Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King and George Orwell. As you know, despite some editors being “temporarily out-of-order” when it came to their work, these authors kept trying again. And, I think it’s safe to say, it paid off for them.

So, why not you?

What about you?

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.
~ Barbara Kingsolver