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Coping with Rejection

Writing.ie | Resources | Getting Published | Submission Tips

Vanessa O'Loughlin

If they are honest, even the greatest writers will admit that they have been rejected at some time (or many times!) during their careers. Indeed, one of the first rules of becoming a writer is learning to face rejection courageously, positively and often!

It might make it easier to know that:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosphers Stone JK RowlingHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected 14 times.
  • Johnathan Livingstone Seagull was rejected 18 times.
  • Carrie Stephen KingCarrie by Stephen King had over 30 rejections.
  • A Time to Kill by John Grisham was rejected 45 times.
  • Gone With the Wind Margaret MitchellGone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected 38 times.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was so completely rejected, that Ms. Potter decided to self-publish.
  • George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected with the words: ‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA’
  • Rudyard Kipling was told by the San Francisco Examiner ‘I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English Language.’
  • Diary of Anne Frank The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected on the basis that ‘the girl doesn’t, it seems to me, to have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level.’

Three tips for coping with those inevitable rejections:

  1. Laugh at them. Those who missed out on Harry Potter are still kicking themselves.
  2. Learn from every rejection. Did you send your manuscript to the right person? Does the opening chapter need more work to grab an agent or publisher’s attention? Did you get any feedback you can act on?
  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Have a submission strategy, plan the next move before you’ve even posted your submission and always have the next project underway. Be positive, be forward thinking.

Remember, literature is subjective. The first agents or publishers you try may not like what you write, but somewhere out there, there is someone who will.

About the author


Vanessa O’Loughlin is the founder of writing.ie, runs Inkwell Writers Workshops and is a scout for leading UK and Irish Literary Agents.

Vanessa’s eBook Writing to Get Published: Bringing the Dream Alive is available to down load onto your laptop in HTML or to an eReader. At only $2.99 it’s an invaluable guide that brings together tips and wisdom from Inkwell Writers Workshops and the best selling authors who facilitate them. It is also available on Kindle.

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