writers tips / writing

Writers Tip #109: A Rejection Simply Means ‘No’

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: A rejection simply means ‘No’.

This tip is from Janet Reid. She’s an agent with Fine Print Literary Management who represents thrillers, mysteries, and more. I follow her blog where she offers pithy, realistic advice to writers on a weekly basis.  She always seems down-to-earth and provides a touch of humor to make the bad (or good) news go down better. Her list of tips for writers is spot-on–I don’t think there’s one I don’t agree with:

  • Be bold
  • Be tenacious
  • Be rational
  • Be knowledgeable
  • Be competent
  • Be ready
  • Be positive
  • Be reachable
  • Be brave
  • Be polite

…and my personal favorite:

Be wary.

One of her tips resonated with what my gut tells me about submitting our babies to agents. See if you agree:

“I reject good and publishable work Every Single Day. Work that goes on to find an agent and get published and win prizes. Repeat after me: rejection only means no, nothing else.”

For more detail, read her post here.

Thank you, Janet, for confirming what I’ve always believed. This is why I query dozens of agents and don’t let it get to me when they send a form letter in response to an email that took me an hour to craft–that was perfect in every respect, except it didn’t get a request to represent me. Now I know why.

Click here for more writer’s tips. Click here to sign up for Writer’s Tips.

More tips on rejection:

Rejected? You Have Stellar Company

My Writing Style Doesn’t Work

An Open Letter to Agents–Open Your Minds or I’m Leaving

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

51 thoughts on “Writers Tip #109: A Rejection Simply Means ‘No’

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  4. I’ve never queried an agent either, Jacqui – like Jill most of my stories have been published after winning competitions. I would have no idea how to approach an agent, but this is great advice for any writer (even as life lessons for non-writers)😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Out of curiosity, how many queries do you send out at one time or before you get an aye or nay back? Is it like looking for employment where a person sends introduction letters to all places he or she wants to work, knowing there might be more than one favorable response? Or is that a no-no in the writing industry because there may be many turn-offs from agents once word gets around that the writer has done something like this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • These communications aren’t exclusive unless they are requested to be so. Me, I’ll send 10-20 queries, but as soon as someone asks for a partial, I stop sending. Still, I don’t notify other query recipients until I get an offer of representation.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The agony of the form rejection. You never know if it’s because you wrote a poor query letter or because of things out of your control. Being a writer is tough.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love Janet Reid’s blog, and like you, I’ve become much more practical about rejection than when I first started out. Form letters I take in stride, and when I get an actual note about the submission, I take what they say to heart, whether its praise or something they think doesn’t work.


    • Me, too. I’ve made so many changes based on input, I’m even resistant to that anymore. Which isn’t necessarily good. I did get a request for representation subject to changes I’d make based on their input. I didn’t disagree with them, just–as Shari says–weary.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My first book had a couple of rejections–mostly it still needed editing. Then I self-published. It was a complete surprise to me when it won the BAIPA* Best Literary Fiction Award. A rejection just means “No.” It doesn’t mean “Never.”

    *Bay Area Independent Publishers Association

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe. This current WIP has garnered more agent interest than I probably deserve. I have another book that is my passion that has zero interest (well, I did get one agent all excited when he read my query letter and then turned it down when I sent the book. I must have oversold the story).

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jacqui,
    You are a doll. I like this article because it is so true. Rejection only means no from the agent or agency that you sent it to. Read your manuscript out loud again. Maybe, you see some inconsistencies. Then correct them and send it back out again to someone else.
    Great post, Lady and I am going to check out Janet Reid.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is so good to read; especially since it is direct from somebody in the industry. Calm, collected and clear. Imagine all the sighs of relief from us writers reading your post today, Jacqui. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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