5 Things to Help You Cope with Rejection

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Whether you are submitting your first manuscript or your thirteenth, on some days rejection is no big deal. You will have other opportunities. Perhaps the next person to read your manuscript will want to publish it or represent you. No matter. You get on with your day. 

But other days? On those days rejection makes you question why you keep putting yourself through this. Here are five things to help you lessen the sting. 

Set a Limit 

I’m not going to get into the psychology of rejection and why some rejections are worse than others. But if this one rocks you back, take some time to feel the agony. No really. Stomp around the house. Gripe at the cat. Whatever it takes, but go into it knowing just how long you are going to give yourself. One writing friend set a two day limit on being a grump. After that, it was time to get back to work. Me? I’m willing to give myself one grumpy evening to play video games, put Bailey’s in my coffee, and fuss. But a new day means it is time to get on with being a writer or go find another job. Since I don’t want to do that, I get back to writing. 

Call the Girls 

All writers need a support network. When a rejection hits me especially hard, I contact either a librarian friend or one of the ladies in my critique group. They’ve all submitted their work and faced rejection letters. Even when my husband doesn’t understand why I’m upset, my fellow writers get it. 

Multiple Markets 

When I research potential markets for a piece, I make a list. That way when I get a rejection I know where it is going to go next. It isn’t like this no came from the one and only place I had planned to send the manuscript. 

Multiple Projects 

In addition to multiple markets for each manuscript, it also pays to have several pieces I’m shopping around. That way when I get a rejection on one, or heaven forbid three, I still have another piece out with an agent or editor who may even say yes. 

Prize Jar 

Way back when I was a kid, my mom would get me a coloring book whenever I got sick. It was just a little something to help cheer me up. I did something like that for myself when I was a new writer. When a rejection came, I reached into the prize jar and pulled out a slip of paper and got whatever was written there. A trip to the local bookstore. An evening spent knitting. A morning with a coloring book. Visiting the Art Museum. 

What helps pick you up when a rejection gets you down? What systems do you have in place to help you cope? Please comment and help out your fellow writers. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins March 1, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  March 1, 2021). 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--I love the "prize jar" idea. I suppose my MO is an unofficial prize jar, except I'd wallow in several evenings of knitting or reading or watching TV. However, I would have cast my net so far (so many simultaneous submissions) I had many more rejections to look forward to.

Sometimes, a cocky part of me thought, 'They're wrong. This manuscript deserves to be published,' and figured it was their loss. Other times (most times, to be honest) I thought I'd never have any luck.

This was a great post, because as much rejection as writers face, they have to figure out ways to cope... and ways to cope so they can continue the next day to write and submit.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Sue I love, love, love this post. Even though we as writers develop thick skin when it comes to rejections, it still stings. I too especially love the idea of a prize jar.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...


Thank you! I agree. Often we manage to tell ourselves that the editor or agent made a mistake. But I do know authors who are flattened with every single rejection.

I have to admit, there isn't always a lot of rhyme or reason to which ones bother me and which ones don't!

Margo Dill said...

I like to think about all the people who have had rejections in the past and how famous some of them are today, and then I just think: What's one thing I can do to move myself forward today...and try to do that. :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...


I don't remember who suggested making a prize jar - one of my fellow writers. But it definitely got me through some tough rejections. And, thank you!

Cathy C. Hall said...

I like to have a long lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant with a couple of writer friends. Venting gets all the negativity out of my system so I can put it behind me and move on.

Of course, sitting at my fave restaurant with writer friends has been a wee bit problematic these days. So I have to settle for a long call...but it's not the same without the chips and Margaritas, Sue. :-)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Can you all Doordash and Zoom? It isn't the same but - margaritas! This has made treating ourselves tricky. But going out with your fellow writers is a great idea.

Renee Roberson said...

I think I need to get myself a prize jar to console myself because I haven't written or submitted anything to be rejected in so long . . . good tips, though! I'm with Cathy--commiserating with chips, queso and margaritas would be my number one pick!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I can already picture it. 46 slips of paper in a jar. Every slip says, "chips, queso and margaritas." Not a bad plan at all!

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