What to Do When Your Article is Rejected

So the editor said “no.”

It’s okay to feel a tad depressed when an article is rejected. It’s not okay to think the rejection is a reflection on you or your writing ability. The timing may have been wrong, the editor may have something similar in the works, or she just might not like the idea you proposed.

It’s not okay to write a spiteful response to the offending editor, either. Keep the door open for future sales.

Rejection is a part of life for every writer. It happens to all of us, professionals and new writers alike. The difference, oftentimes, is that professionals snap back and do something positive. We reconsider the original idea to determine if we chose the right approach. We rework the query to tailor it to a different publication. Or we sit right down at the computer and start writing a different query for another idea that’s been simmering in our brains.

Kelly James-Enger offered some excellent advice about overcoming rejection in her article, “Freelancing 101,” in The Writer’s Handbook. Treat rejections as opportunities, she says. Even get right back to the editor who rejected your work.

If you have another idea that’s right for that market, start your new query or cover letter with language like ‘Thank you very much for your response to (title of the essay or query). While I’m sorry you can’t use it at this time, I have another idea for you to consider,’ and mail it to the market. In the meantime, tweak the original query, if necessary and resubmit it to another publication. Your work won’t sell sitting on your hard drive. You’ve got to get it out there.”

Kelly believes that taking action is the best way to overcome rejection. I do, too.
Maybe you won’t get another rejection anytime soon. But if you do, you might want to keep and re-read these words of writer Barbara Kingsolver (The Bean Trees; High Tide in Tucson, Animal Dreams).

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.”

© 2008 by Laverne Daley

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