It isn’t the most enjoyable part of being a writer, by any means.
Whether it’s a standard form letter, a personalized, “No Thank You” note, or even a call from an editor–hearing your work hasn’t been accepted for publication is what every writer dreads.
To make things worse, perhaps you’re facing a major rejection at the same time a colleague or friend is celebrating a major acceptance.
From here you have two choices: either pick yourself up and move on, or wallow in defeat and allow it to eat away at you.
How often are you tempted by sour grapes?
Here are some clues your resentment might be interfering with your career as a writer:
You can’t believe that Writer X’s manuscript got accepted and yours didn’t. You’ve read their book and thought it was totally lame (yours is so much better).
These editors are obviously biased toward certain genres. They don’t know literary genius when they see it. All they care about is market appeal.
Besides, Writer X probably knew someone who knew someone. There’s no way they’d be published, otherwise.
You know how to get even.
That editor or publishing house deserves a piece of your mind.
Maybe if you send them a nasty email, they’ll write back and confess they were wrong to overlook your work.
You can see the reaction now: “I am deeply sorry for the distress we have caused you. Your manuscript was somehow mixed up in the slushpile and read by an intern. I would love the chance to see your book myself so I can give it the proper attention it deserves.”
Yes, that’s it. It was probably all a misunderstanding.
Now, to write that note…
The shock of seeing your manuscript returned to your mailbox, instead of receiving a contract call from an editor, nearly sends you into cardiac arrest.
Not only is your book perfect the way it is, it’s totally bestseller material!
You edited. You proofread. Your friends read the book and all said it was great. You mother completely agrees.
What more is there? Do they need you to conduct your own market research?
You can’t believe you’re still taking part in that ridiculous community writer’s workshop.
You almost feel dirty being there, with all those wannabe authors.
When people come to you for advice on writing, you feel compelled to warn them about the state of the publishing industry at present, and the futility of trying to break in.
If you’re not getting published, do these amateurs really think they stand a chance?
How dare they send you a standard form rejection letter!
They didn’t even bother to put your real name and title of your manuscript on it. “Dear Author, Thank you for letting us read your manuscript. Unfortunately, it doesn’t suit our list.”
Can’t they see you deserve feedback? Constructive criticism? A personalized note encouraging you to continue in your efforts?
If you see yourself in the any of the former frames of mind, you might be harbouring sour grapes toward the publishing industry, professional writers, or even those sharing the same daily struggles you face in becoming a published author.
Just remember, every writer faces rejection–usually innumerable times before, and even after, a first acceptance.
How can you avoid sour grapes?
- Put it in perspective. Having a manuscript rejected doesn’t mean your work is bad or that you have no talent. It just means that particular publisher isn’t interested, or you might need to consider revision and editing.
- Be happy for the little guys. If someone you know gets published, help them celebrate. Remember, it might be you one day. How would you feel if they abandoned you in your moment of glory?
- Recognize Editors’ limits. There’s only so much an editor can do. Most would probably love to have the time and energy to respond personally to your manuscript, but it usually isn’t possible.
- Improve your writing. Admit you’re not perfect, then take steps to improve on your areas of weakness. You’ll increase your chances of being published and be more satisfied with your own work.
Don’t let sour grapes ruin your writing career.
When you face rejection, turn it on its head and use it as a learning experience to help you grow.