Don’t Go Breaking My Heart: How to Deal With Rejections

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Is a rejection the end of the world? It sure feels like it when it happens, but the truth is, client rejections are a part of the career path we all choose as freelance writers. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find a positive way to handle a rejection, so it doesn’t break your heart or kill your vibe.

Rejection is a Badge of Honor – Apparently

Some of the world’s best-selling novelists were initially rejected by people who are feeling really dumb about it now, according to Flavorwire.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – Nothing like obscenity to drive them away, well, back in the 50’s at least. Publishers were afraid of the backlash if they agreed to publish this one.

The Ginger Man by James Patrick Donleavy – He reportedly shopped his novel to 35 publishers before someone said yes.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling – Say it isn’t so, but yes, it took a child of a publisher to realize the genius in this story.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – I’d reject this one myself, but I would be wrong. It went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.

The point is to keep things in prospective. If you became a writer thinking everyone would automatically love your words and respect your talent, you have probably learned that is not the reality of this industry.

It’s Not You – It’s Them

Sometimes a rejection is not a rejection. Jobs get dropped because the client can no longer use the material or the content just didn’t fit their strategy. Not all clients know what they want going into it, either. In a perfect world they would pay you for the effort any way, but no one promised you a perfect world.

The good news is if they don’t pay for your work, you still own the content. Find other ways to utilize that product.

  • Post it to a blog – Or use it as a reason to start one
  • Sell it to another client – Shop the topic around to see if anyone else might be interested. There are also platforms that allow you to post an article and see if there are any buyers for it.
  • Save it for a rainy day – Could come in handy down the road

Maybe It Was You After All

There are going to be times when a client just hates you despite your best efforts to charm them. You can use that as an excuse to drink heavily or take a more proactive approach. Have someone else read your article and offer suggestions on how to improve it. If possible, politely contact the client and ask for feedback, but only if you are willing to learn from the experience.

Handling rejection is part of your role as a professional writer, and how you do it says something about you.

Darla F is a full time freelance writer and environmental activist who takes out her rejection frustration by bike riding wherever she needs to go.


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