5 Great things about having your writing rejected

Part of being a writer means getting rejections.  Whether it’s a form letter from an agent, a publisher passing on your work, or maybe even the indifferent silence of the masses after you self-publish your book, rejection takes on many forms.

I’ve been at this for two years and I’ve been growing a pretty sweet pile of rejections.  On the bright side, it’s not all that bad.

Here’s five unexpected upsides to getting rejections:

#5. A rejection means you’re part of the club

Every single writer has been rejected.  Not one writer in the history of the world has written just one thing, submitted it to just one agent, had that one agent submit it to just one publisher only to have that one publisher move forward with it.

It’s never happened.

Every writer has a rejection story.  Are you getting rejected for the first time?  It sucks, but it also means you’ve made it.   Nice!  Thumbs up!

Han Solo says thumbs up
Han Solo: Shooting first and supporting writers

You’re part of the group now.  It means you finished something, got it to a place where it’s readable and sent it for someone else to evaluate.

Good job!

#4. Rejection makes you work harder

There’s really only two reactions to being rejected.

  1. Quit.
  2. Don’t quit.

Oh, there’s ways to pretty up either choice, but that’s what it amounts to.  You stop or you keep going.  Most of us choose to keep going.  And while the “I’ll show them all” mentality can be dangerous, it’s healthy to keep some of that attitude.

This pretty much sums up my feelings on rejection

So you got rejected?  Great.  On to the next one.  And the next.  And the next.

#3. Rejection makes your story better

I think every writer should submit their work to agents.  Even if you’re planning to self-publish, I think you should go through the exercise of submission.


It’s hard to scrutinize your own work, and it’s even more difficult to wrap your head around the fact that some people don’t like it.  Intellectually, every writer knows that their work won’t be universally beloved, but it’s another thing to internalize that feeling and believe it.

So trust me when I say, there’s nothing quite a humbling as submitting your work to a couple dozen agents, professionals in the industry, and have them all pass on it.

Pictured: The cruel and indifferent face of an agent on reading his 900th submission of the month

But the bright side to that is it makes you inspect your work with a critical eye.  It forces you think about some uncomfortable truths.  Maybe your first chapter isn’t that great.  Maybe your story lags.  Maybe your narrative is clunky.

My first book is unquestionably better because I got those rejections and forced myself to look at some of the shittier parts of my story and fix them.  I never would have done that if I finished, shrugged, and hit the “self-publish” button.

#2. Rejection doesn’t hurt that much

Oh, the day you get the rejection, it hurts like a bitch.  Nothing ruins your day quite like an agent rejection.  It’s total garbage.

But then you know what happens?  The world doesn’t end.  The sky doesn’t fall down.  You just… keep going.  You keep writing.  You get a rejection, it sucks and  you move on.

And it hurts way less than you thought it would.

Peter Knee.jpg
Unlike, say, banging your knee

Simply knowing that rejections have no long-term power over you is liberating.  You take your lumps, you get better and you move on.

#1. Rejection will let you know if you’re a writer

The best part of getting rejected was learning that I still like writing.

Listen, when you’re writing your first book, of course you’re going to fantasize about being the next JK Rowling, or having your book turned into a movie.  It’s fun to think about, and it’s wonderful motivation to keep going.

Then you get that first rejection and you realize that that publishing industry is a coldly indifferent place.

Pictured: two agents in their offices.

No one was waiting for your book to drop.  You were a nameless, faceless query into a machine that chews through 40,000 queries a year.

So, there you are.  You wrote your first book and no one likes it.  No want wants to read it.

Honestly, no one gives a shit.   Now what?

I’m halfway through my second book, and I’m so happy to find that I’m enjoying it as much as my first.  Because this time, I know that the end result of this will probably be… nothing.

I’m fine with that, and I’m going to keep writing.  Because it’s fun, and I like it.

For me, that was the biggest benefit of getting rejections.  I genuinely like writing.  I like the process.  I like coming up with stories.  And for now, that’s enough.


Do you have a rejection story?  Share it with everyone in the comments

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