The positive side of rejections

We all get them -writers and rejections, I mean. OK, probably not Steven King, but you get my point.

Thing is, they aren't always a bad thing. Maybe that doesn't make sense. Allow me to expand.

I think creators - so that's artists, writers, etc - need three things to keep them going, rather like a fire. A fire needs fuel, oxidizer and ignition. Creative types need inspiration, dedication and - probably most importantly - appreciation.

It doesn't have to be much, but its the lack of appreciation that grinds me down. And no, I'm not talking about screaming hoards of fans besieging stores at book launches (though I cant say it wouldn't be nice). Appreciation is just a little something that lets you know that somebody out there values what you are doing in some way. It can be a tiny thing, like someone dropping you an email with a nice comment, or someone on GoodReads giving you a healthy number of stars. And the more personal it is, the better. Getting a story accepted is right up their near the top.

So how can a rejection score on the appreciation side? Its how its delivered. Lots of publishers only send regular, impersonal rejections. I can understand why; they don't have a lot of time and being too honest could kick off a firestorm. So 'form' rejections are an expectedly crushing disappointment, but we live with them.

Personal rejections are rare and treasured. You find out more about why your work didn't fit, and you know that the editor or publisher thought highly enough of you to take the time to send you a personal message. Its appreciation, and between peers.

I got one this weekend. One of the three best rejections I've ever had, and it couldn't have come at a better time. For various reasons I've been feeling a little down and demotivated for most of this year, but right now I feel my mojo has returned and I am kicking serious ass on a couple of projects I haven't felt able to tackle.

Always look for the silver lining, I say :)


  1. Hi RB,

    What a lovely attitude to rejection! I’ve never achieved a positive rejection – only the compliments slip variety. After completing my latest book I didn’t even find much opportunity for rejection. Plenty of publishers and literary agents out there but they all seem a bit ‘closed doors’ – so I decided against the rejection route this time.

    I guess a positive rejection is pretty damned close to acceptance – so better luck next time!


  2. Jules, don't give up.
    Editors and publishers dont mean to be rude with form rejections. In most cases they simply dont have the time to share a few constructive words with you.

    If you dont already use one, can I suggest trying to get yourself into a crit group. The right crit group will take years off your learning cycle and - if you can find an honest one - your writing and your sucess rate will improve.

    I'm in the UK and write genre, so I am a member of the British Science Fiction Association's 'Orbit' groups (I am the moderator of Orbit 4 :) ). Its a bit like wicca - the time you invest in critiquing other peoples work is returned to you threefold. Give it a try, and the best of luck with your writing