Without a doubt this is the most whined about topic in writing forums. When I receive a rejection letter there are two thoughts that automatically come to my mind. 1) My query didn’t induce enough enthusiasm in the agent for them to request a sample of my work. 2) The first five pages (my brief sample included in the submission) contained faults or weaknesses that lead the agent to conclude the novel is unmarketable (or worse. LOL). There are many reasons why an agent may not want to see your work; not currently looking for that genre, already has too many writers, etc. I prefer to be hard on myself and take the blame.

My attitude: my work or presentation could have been better. We as writers need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to the rejection. Taking on this attitude can only make us better writers and marketeers. Blaming the literary agents may be easier, but that doesn’t force us to view our own work with a critical eye. Were your first five pages as tight as they can be? Is your hook strong enough to attract interest? Are you presenting this manuscript in the right way?

For me, the most difficult and frustrating part of this process is not receiving any feedback. Not knowing what part of your presentation query, sample pages, or synopsis lacked appeal makes it so challenging. The process as it currently stands, leaves you trapped in the twilight zone (or in a lonely literary hell like a car caught in a ditch of mud and unable to escape). It is a shame agents don’t use a response form letter with a list of options they could check off to inform you what they didn’t like. For example; weak query, synopsis vague, writing not up to par, too many typos or errors,or even a simple I don’t like you. (I’ll accept any kind of criticism at this point). As crude as this may seem, it would provide invaluable information.

Any kind of input would be great as long as it isn’t destructive criticism (see photo).

What do you think?



105 thoughts on “Rejection

  1. I agree, feedback is a wonderful luxury. I’ve had a few agents who’ve done that for me, and it was enormously helpful. I always send a thank you to let them know I appreciate the feedback, even if the query was rejected.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LadyFi, not only a slow killer, but for me a silent killer like hypertension.
      I haven’t received any criticism from my queries, so I am left wondering is it my query, the synopsis, or the five opening pages. Hey, thanks for stopping by my page to comment. Really appreciate it. .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t you love that rude, invisible feeling? I used to send out a lot of visual art and be ignored and rejected, and finally acceptance when the wind was out of my sales. After researching the book industry and discovering over 95% of advances paid out never are recovered by the books sales and that the author is 100% responsible for marketing the book, I have to scratch my head and ask, “What good is a publisher other than keeping the price down under indy publishing and a stroke for the ego? (somebody likes me, they really like me!) You can always make your price work across all spectrums by offering digital versions. As artists, we no longer need to wait for approval from the gatekeepers. We can swim out to our ships and get on with our lives by thinking outside the box. Good luck!


  3. Feedback is absolutely necessary if we are expected to improve some aspect of our writing that may be weak. I know agents spend a lot of their time reading but how difficult is it, really, to write a paragraph saying: dear writer, thanks for your submission but we had the following concerns….or…dear writer, we are not looking for any material in this particular genre at this time…..


  4. I love what you say about this.
    Rejection is a part of life and some of us avoid it like the plague. I think if we avoid it all together, we miss out on learning valuable things about ourselves and serious building of character.
    In my other professions I get rejected a lot, but it leads to thinking about other ways of being in the world.
    As a writer our heart and soul is put into our work, and it can be easy to get crushed by rejection, especially where no feedback is offered.
    It’s important to never give up and trying new things.


    • Ever since my senior prom I had to deal with rejection. Seriously, it’s a part of life. We need to look at it as a learning lesson to see what we can improve in ourselves and our work.

      Kendra, the most important thing is when we get a rejection from a publisher or an agent, we can’t take it personally. The way things are today, we have no way of knowing if they even read our query or sample pages. So, a no leaves us in the dark when it contains no feedback. Thanks for stopping by my page to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Submitting material for publication sounds even more impersonal than job interviewing. Material rejection sounds very black/white and there are no shades of grey. Maybe that’s for the best because any feedback would likely be “light” on substance anyway. When interviewing for a job you can be led to believe you are perfect for the position and then all of sudden you get no call back nor even any formal rejection. And of course in this age of litigation we can’t expect any, can we? No, whether submitting your work or applying for work one can only plug away and not get discouraged. If we want honest feedback on either our friends or loved ones will likely have to suffice!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice post and I agree totally. It also follows some in other types of work. The simple answer of not responding or saying not interested is a norm. I have re learned things and when I can I rattle off a lot of posts, changing styles and try to keep it interesting. I have realized the past couple of months to make some changes and they have helped. I have a couple subjects that I am going to publish on Kindle soon. I have to break some of it up as I could feasibly get a small series. I have to search through my categories and the 2-3 I plan on publishing and see if there are any I have not added to a newer category. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, God. Thank you so much. Of course criticism should be constructive and delivered in a positive way. That would make us better writers. Thankfully, we have this blogging community to help each other. Thanks for the comment.


  7. The graphic cracked me up! I burst out laughing. I’ve had my share of rejections and it gets easier each time. I do get annoyed with the instant rejections and I doubt many of my queries are even read, but I get it, agents are busy, they’re people. I don’t take it personally. I did land a small press publisher for 6 books, and through their process, I learned a lot about writing, editing, and the business in general. I decided to start self-publishing a year ago, and I’m glad I did. I would hop aboard a big five publishing house given the chance, but small press offers little in the way of marketing and that’s where I find the greatest challenges. I’m off on a tangent here. I guess my point is…queries are hit or miss. If you get tired of waiting, there are alternatives 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. wow another scroll scroll scroll —so i would just continue to send them out and take rejection like a five year old, drink, smoke (i quit) drink a bit more, swear at your wife (my hubby) and start over until someone accepts you. you have talent. or self-publish.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I sent in about fifty pages of the beginning of a story I’m working on and it was rejected. The email I got said others scored higher but didn’t really say how I scored. I know they can’t take the time to explain everything, but something would be nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have stuck my toe into the publishing world only one time and I was so hard on myself. I did the shoulda, woulda, coulda crap on myself for days on end. When I could think unemotionally about what I had submitted, I realized that I should have, in your phrase, tightened up what I had written and made it so much less clunky.

    And maybe going through this process is kind of like a job interview: there are SO many conflicting pieces of advice out there on how to set up your resume, how to act and present yourself in job interviews, whether or not you should send a thank you after the interview, etc. And like you mentioned there is also no feedback involved that can give you a reality check on how to do a better job of writing the next time.

    There are always editors assigned to contracted authors, correct? Then why can’t the publishing industry have editors give constructive criticism of the submissions of the most not-quite-there-but-so-close promising writers? It would immensely help those writers and it would ultimately benefit the publishing industry as well, wouldn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. While agree with everything you said about rejection and criticism, a good dose of self confidence is important too. Didn’t JK Rowling get rejected like 27 time for Harry Potter? Point is, she was rejected A LOT but she knew in her heart the books were good so she kept plugging away at it. So while I think accepting constructive criticism is crucial, I think never giving up is just as important.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Getting a book published just keeps getting harder and harder. Years ago, (before my first husband died and I couldn’t write a word for years after) when I submitted to agents, most actually told me why they wouldn’t take me on. Some letters were brief, some went into great detail. I learned from each and every one. Eventually, I secured an agent, and she submitted my manuscript to publishers. They also stated why my manuscript didn’t suit them.
    Re my current WIP, I submitted many times last year, and was turned down with the standard form letter–if I recieved any sort of response whatsoever. I decided something must be wrong with my story, so I hired an editor, and am currently doing a complete rewrite. I want to go the tradition route (it seems more validating) but may consider self-publishing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes! Something like that happened to me last week with my memoirs.
    A grandson-in-law liked them very much, and he also underlined why, but he also allowed himself to make the friendly comment that, here and there, he found me somewhat “too” distant, reserved. I think I understand his criticism (he is the second reader who made this observation on other writings of mine), and I will ask him to point out the episodes he refers to. However, I’m sure I have done my utmost, so rewriting those events in a less distant manner would force me to use wordings I ‘m afraid I wouldn’t have chosen spontaneously.
    I hope I will not come through as a stubborn or arrogant person. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sorry for commenting so late, just discovered this and wanted to say hello! I’m happy you found my blog, yours looks awesome! I’m a new writer, doing the self published thing after being rejected myself. In fact posting about that today. Glad to have met you!

    Liked by 1 person

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