Turn a Rejection Letter into a Plan for Success!

What a Roller Coaster writing week!

One day I receive a MORE DOCS PLEASE email for one publisher and another day a NO THANKS from another.

Last week a rejection letter arrived in my email inbox  for SAYONARA.

I was mortified! How could a publisher reject the first three chapters of my beloved crime novel? … The ones I had sweated over?
I was ashamed, too embarrassed to tell anyone. So I let time and research be my healers.
The reality is that very few writers achieve a YES from a Publisher on the first or even second submission of their manuscript.
So many best-selling books and authors were rejected tens or hundreds of time. I found solace researching their famous names and their rejection history.

I printed and displayed my own rebuff like a badge of honour, reminding myself not to take rejections personally. (Devouring a chocolate bar and gulping a glass of shiraz helped.)

img_0026Now that I’ve accepted my NO and my ‘diagnosis’ I’m ready to absorb the publisher’s feedback and take her advice on board.

I’m mind-mapping solutions and developing a constructive plan.

I’m so grateful the publisher offered me personalized advice via not one but TWO emails … Thank you.

Her words heartened me.

“SAYONARA has great merit … a promising manuscript.”

What’s my plan for success?

•    Break down her advice into doable chunks and perspectives.
•    Mind mapping …Who? What? Where? When? How? with characters, timelines and SHOW DON”T TELL.
•    Immerse myself in the crime genre with books and film.
•    Rewrite
Sayonara following the plan
•    Seek Beta readers to provide feedback
•    Research publishers who are a ‘good fit’ then submit

Phew! Now I have a practical plan in place I will transform SAYONARA into something stronger and punchier. I’m 95% there and that extra 5% will make all the difference. I can’t wait to read the finished book.


WooHoo! A children’s publisher requested MORE documents for my picture book ALANA TO THE RESCUE #2 days after they received my original submission.

YAY! I’ve made it to Round 2 … I’m already visualizing my book launch!

* How can Writers  become more resilient to rejection letters?

*Or will those letters always be fraught with tears and shock?

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12 comments to Turn a Rejection Letter into a Plan for Success!

  • Graham Clements

    There’s only one way you’ll ever succeed in writing and that is by putting your manuscripts out there.

    Good that they gave you some feedback on Sayonara.

    You certainly have covered a few bases, crime, memoir, science fiction, picture book, adult, YA, children.

    Good luck with the picture book.

  • Thanks Graham,
    The positive advice from the publisher for SAYONARA was uplifting. Otherwise it would be too shattering to keep going again after putting so much effort into it.
    Thank God … I’m smiling with the picture book requests.

  • Although I am sad for you over the ‘rejection’ letter, I just love how you have dealt with it. Such a great post! Your honesty and candor pave the way for wannabe’s like me to be armed with all we need to handle the rollercoaster of the publishing world, so thank you so much for sharing your feelings. It’s only a setback too….and I quote “Sayonara has merit and great promise” unquote. I hope one day I have a rejection letter like that! 🙂

  • Hi Susannah,
    The rejection was hard to take because I really respect this publisher and she had shown previous interest in my writing.
    Her positive words are highlighted on the Slip and its now pinned up on my Vision Board in front of me to give me incentive, to push myself on.

  • Rejections are a way of life in what we do, but if you learn something from each one then they are not actually a ‘negative’ in the long run. Too many people receive a rejection and get so disheartened that they put their manuscripts away and give up. What you have done is look for the positives in what you’ve been given and that will ultimately help you. I wish you all the best.

  • HI Karen,

    I am in the EXACT same situation. My fiction was rejected last week while my non fiction is under consideration by a massive publisher…Very contradictory and frustrating…Yet I also loved that you shared this because I felt lonely with my situation and also shared the embarrassment you described…

    Thank you again and good luck, it’s not the best who make it but the most stubborn 🙂

  • Hi Sharon,
    Thanks so much for dropping by with your advice and support as a Published author.
    The rejection letter resulted with me looking at my own chapters more critically and analyzing HOW can I improve my writing?
    Which is a necessary for me to go forward as a writer.
    I know I can succeed in this Rewrite and I’m determined to see it through.

  • Thanks Stephanie,
    So glad you shared your trials and successes too. Good quality fiction takes time to develop. Love your quote about The Most Stubborn. That’s us! I wish you every success with your decisions :))

  • How wonderful you got some feedback. I too got some great feedback this week from an American Agent.
    My reaction to rejection depends a lot on what else is going on … sometimes I brush them off… and other times I am distraught.
    Hope your kids series gets snapped up.

  • Hi Michelle,
    Yes, I was delighted to receive feedback despite the rejection. It made me look at Sayonara closely and work out what I needed to do.
    Yes I agree about the timing and importance you place on a rejection will effect your reaction.
    Sorry to hear about your “no” from an agent too. They’re harder to score than a Publisher!

    I hope both my Kids Series gets snapped up. I’m getting those “good vibrations.”

  • Great post. Very useful and inspiring for the people whose publication is rejected. Feedback should be used in a positive way, and everything will fall in place.

  • Thanks for dropping by. After I dealt with the shock and the empty feeling of “rejection” I knew I must do something. The only way for me to move forward was to make a positive plan for success. The rewrite is well underway and see the improvements jumping off the page.

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