Unfortunately part of a writer’s life is learning to cope with rejection. But whether you’re writing a book, a freelancer pitching a story idea, hoping to appear on a TV show or someone hoping to get their real life story into print, rejection is something you must learn to live with happily… and here’s my top tips for doing just that and what to do when you experience it …
* Firstly you can minimise rejection by not sending a national newspaper your poetry or your non fiction book to a publisher that only deals with chick lit fiction. Always read the guidelines – always read the publication and check the sort of stories they are printing.
* Avoid sending overlong pitches – no-one in the media industry has time to read your whole life story. If you are approaching a literary agent about a book, ensure you stick to their guidelines. If they ask for three chapters, send those and not your whole novel. Polish your pitch before you send it off – keep it short but include details (how your story begins and ends) and always include something about yourself. Editors are not clairvoyant. The fact you are a mum of quins and wrote your first novel at night IS a story – saying this is just your first novel ensures you miss out the most saleable point. If you are a freelancer sending to a new commissioning editor, point out who you’ve worked for before.
* So your wonderful pitch to an editor has been sent back with a NO? The first thing to remember is unless this is someone you’ve had some sort of huge disagreement with in the past, rejection in business is rarely, if ever, personal. It is a business – if someone wants what you have they will buy it and if it’s not right for them, they will reject it.
* If your pitch is rejected, accept it. Don’t argue with an editor – they know what they are looking for and you must accept what you sent in wasn’t it.
* Avoid going back to a busy editor and annoying them by asking why or seeking long explanations. They won’t have time. And frankly they might not be able to put a finger on why your book or real life story isn’t quite right for them. Good editors don’t always know exactly what they are searching for but they know a good story when they see it. That said, there might be definite reasons as well – they’ve already got something similar, they’ve spent all their budget that month, the people are the wrong ages and so on.
* Never assume because you are rejected by one editor or publisher that other editors will think the same. It only takes one editor to like your story or see potential in it. Some people become paralysed with a fear of sending a pitch out – in case it is rejected. But if it is, so what? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain – that next editor might buy your book.
* See rejection as a way to learn. The more rejections you have, the more you can learn what’s not right! Obviously if you have lots of rejections, have a look again at the material you are sending out. Be honest with yourself – or get professional advice on how to make it better.
* Look out for ‘good rejections’ – those editors that came back and asked more questions might not have bought in the end. But your pitch piqued their interest – so you are pitching along the right lines. And this means keep at it, persevere and you will be successful in the end.