• Share Your Rejection

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 12 comments

    The #ShareYourRejection hashtag on Twitter has gotten a lot of action lately, and in no surprise, writers are among the most vocal.

    Many of these responses are inspirational tales of books that were rejected dozens of times before finding a publisher, like Arianna Huffington’s, Jill Orr’s, and Dea Poirier’s.

    Other writers flash some humor within the trauma, like Hannah Khalil, Erin Vincent, and Joseph Finder.

    And then there are the anecdotes that are truly horrific and/or weird, like this one from A.N. Devers.

    As writers, rejection is folded into our lives. So many thousands of agents, publications, and publishers reject so many thousands of projects and writers each year. It’s just math.

    I don’t think I have any horrifying or terribly amusing rejections. I feel left out. Mine are very run-of-the-mill. Form rejections, mostly, or publications that just never respond at all. Occasionally I’ll get a handwritten note on a form rejection — “not for us, but try again” — and that sometimes mitigates the stink of it.

    Once, an editor wrote a note saying something like “There are no mountains east of Denver.” That was a weird one, though not entirely a non sequiter.

    I’ve never tried to find an agent or get a book published, but I’ll be doing both of those things before too long, so stay tuned.

    In the meantime, feel free to use this space for some venting about your own experiences.


    Your turn: Share a rejection story with us, whether inspirational, horrifying, funny, or all of those things at once. Also, how do you deal with rejection? Does it send you into a funk or are you able to brush it right off? If the latter, what sorts of strategies do you employ?


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and has written for books for the Dallas Morning News, the Iowa ReviewElectric Literature, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a writing project you’d like help with or an idea to get off the ground, check out our coaching, editing, and publication services.


    0 0 votes
    Article Rating
    Notify of

    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Barbara Mealer

    Rejection is one of those things you have to deal with throughout life. It is something you need to absorb and learn from if possible. You don’t quit! Look at it as another opportunity. What can you do to improve? What more do you need to learn or do? I attended a conference three years ago where several editors requested to see my work. I sent it in to them but was rejected by all five. Why? Because they were looking for books which resembled what was popular at the moment. My books were too ‘sweet’ and, if they were… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thanks for the detailed response, Barbara. Spot on. So you plan to publish everything yourself from now on?

    Barbara Mealer

    Yes. I’m not a quitter, but I have no intention of spending three years getting a contract and published through a ‘house’ which will take most of the profits and me do the biggest share of the work. I understand the risk and profit for them, but if I do it right, I’ll do better by self publishing.

    Barb W

    I had a story rejected by a magazine, and then accidentally resent them the same story a year later, untouched, and they published it. How is that for weird? This was before online submission systems.

    David Duhr

    Haha. Sometimes it takes me two reads of a story or book to decide whether I liked it. Or maybe the magazine changed editors or focus in that year? Either way, a win is a win.

    Joseph Realdine

    Aloha Nui Loa All,

    Rejection is a beautiful thing, it just makes you find a different path to your goals. According to science it hurts and stays with you more than physical pain.

    So no pain no gain! Never give up on your hopes or dreams. Never

    David Duhr

    Thanks for this, Joseph. I’m on board!

    Torria (StevieT)

    Well said Jose()h! Never!

    Carol B

    I expected to see far more responses to this post! It got me browsing through my own collection of rejection letters (a somewhat masochistic endeavor, but eye-opening). Most of my rejections fall under the “It doesn’t fit our needs at this time” category. That’s just a kind way of saying ‘thanks, but no thanks, although I think it also speaks to what is currently trending. (I’ve never interpreted it to mean my writing stinks, altho maybe that’s just me trying to put a positive spin on it). As to trending, I share Barbara Mealer’s sentiments (above). I understand that publishing… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thanks, Carol. I do think some writers thrive on rejection; it makes them more determined, makes them work harder in order to prove those agents/editors/publishers wrong. Which has its pros and cons. In the end, good writing almost always finds a home.

    I think I have my rejection slips in a folder somewhere. I should pull ’em out and see what happens.

    Torria (StevieT)

    Sorry one of the letters on my keyboard not working, but…Yeees, recently I got rejected…again. It’s gotten me to the ()oint of nervousness to o()en the re()lies as in: ‘drum role ()lease’. Anywaaays, to the su()()ort of a friend as in, being reminded about ()ublished authors who went through same challenges and/or()rocess. As for the latter, my intent is to write for myself first – as in a ()urging – as many of my short stories are from ()ersonal ex()eriences. And my edge, is being able to fictionalize the narratives. Saying that, I have more stories to tell, more stories… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thanks for sharing, Torria. It took me a long time to get to where I could “write for myself first,” but that’s always the best a()()proach. Writing to ()lease or im()ress others is a surefire way to *not* ()ut out your best work.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x