Wipe Up the Tears: Coping With Rejection as a Writer

Rejection is part of being an experienced writer. Quality content, such as children’s books, non-fiction novels, short stories, poetry and Internet articles are rejected every day. Sometimes rejection letters or rewrite requests come as a blanket email with no personalization; lacking feeling or explanation, but other rejection letters or rewrite requests offer insight in the form of a reason.

If the editor offers a clear, specific reason why the piece is rejected, take it as a gift. Writers cannot progress from novice to experienced writer without a few bumps and rejections along the way. I have been rejected hundreds of times in my career and I expect to be rejected thousands more, but that does not stop me from taking those rejections and moving forward, quickly.

The Gift of a Reason is the Most Important Tool a Writer Has

There are plenty of differences between Internet and print writers, but there is also one huge similarity: Editors hold the key to progress. From the simplest note to lengthy review, editors offer writers a list of steps they must take to become better. Grammar, spelling, focus, transition and depth are common problems noted by editors. Don’t just edit the piece, edit your writing style. The better you become at writing, the fewer rejections you’ll receive in the future.

Don’t Take Rejections Personally

Hold on. Calm down one second. Too many writers take a rejection as a personal stab at their ability as a writer. It is unlikely that the editor reviewing the piece knows your name or personal history. They have a list of guidelines they use to review your work. If it does not meet those guidelines, it will be rejected. It’s that simple.

Writers Hold the Key to Success

Utilize your peers or fellow writers who’ve been down the same path of rejection. Many online writer forums give valuable advice for novice writers to help fine tune the craft of writing. It’s nothing for a writer to send an article to peers before submitting to a client or after a rejection. Peers offer an objective eye—something every writer needs.

The Secret Back-Up Plan

Never keep all your eggs in one basket. Experienced writers create quality content, including Internet articles, stories or eBooks and send the work to a client or publishing company expecting the company to love every word. When the rejection letter or rewrite request comes in, they have no back-up plan for the piece they now own. Always have a back-up plan. Internet writers have a plethora of places to publish quality content, articles and eBooks. You can choose to sell first rights, reprint rights or exclusive rights or keep the piece for a personal blog or website.
Print writers have to do a little more legwork, lining up a second publishing company for submission. There’s nothing wrong with having a second envelope addressed and stamped; ready to send in the case of a rejection.

Rewrite/Rejection … Is There Really a Difference?

I know plenty of writers who refuse to rewrite an article. Rewrites are part of the writing game. Sometimes clients mean one thing and request another. Other times, the writer approaches the topic in a different light or from a different angle than the client intended. A rewrite request does not mean you’re a bad writer or that an article has been rejected. Tackle the rewrite request one point at a time. Edit sections as needed and add content, references or other information the client desires. Typically, a rewrite takes only a few moments, but you gain a wealth of respect from the client.

Writers are humans, not machines. Mistakes happen, rewrite requests are inevitable and rejections are part of the business. Writers who learn from bumps in the road gain valuable experience for future clients.

Richard B. is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments. WriterAccess is powered by ideaLaunch.


  • Alan says:

    Hi Richard,

    Sorry this response is so far down. I had some downtime today and caught up on my blog reading. Your article is excellent and contains really good advice. Yup, there is a but coming. You say \”Sometimes clients mean one thing and request another.\” I agree with the statement, but not with the solution. If I have taken the time to research, write, grammar and spell proof and run Duplicheck I have done way more than just knock an article. If the client\’s instructions were to write an article on how to restore a motorcycle and changes his mind and now wants an article on how to restore a moped, it is a whole new article. I want to be paid if I followed instructions and then the client has a change of heart. This is not a rewrite nor a revision, it is a whole new article.

    What do you think?

  • Jennifer T says:

    Thank you for this sage advice. When asking for a rewrite recently, a client accused me of copying and pasting the article together. I did feel personally attacked because I had worked hard to keep the paragraphs short in keeping with a blog post. In order to please the client, I performed the rewrite into an entirely different article. This revision request shook my confidence. I realize I must deal with my own psychological issues with rejection and remember the anonymity of content writing.

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