Guest blogs and bloggers / humor / writing

How to Survive Rejection

An efriend writer originally published this as a guest post on their blog to help me launch my latest prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds. In case you missed it there, here are my anecdotal thoughts on how to survive rejection (something I know a lot about):


I have a lot of experience with rejections. I sent queries to agents for my first three books. I made sure these busy folk represented my genre, that I followed their website directions, that I referenced books they already represented so they’d know I spent time preparing my query. I set a goal of 100 queries–100 agents–and then decided I wasn’t going to get to yes.

That’s a lot of rejection. You probably wonder how I survived. With a dollop of humor and a strong belief that no agent can shape my future. Here are my tips for you:

  1. When you get your first rejection–or 100th–say this: Well there it is, the stupidist thing I’ll read all day.
  2. You got five rejections in one day. You want to leave a nasty Tweet on each of their Twitter feeds and then scream about them on your Facebook page. You don’t care if you burn the relationship. Don’t! Smile knowingly, that they missed the best book to cross their book in years, and self-pub.
  3. Crawl under your bed with the rejection letters and whisper to the agents, “Any dumber, you’d be jellyfish. Or rocks! How could you not see my brilliance!”
  4. Getting upset about rejections is like inviting a pin to a balloon party. What did you expect?
  5. Given the choice of a rejection letter or a recreational colonoscopy, which would you choose? See, there are worse things.
  6. S/he probably didn’t even read it.
  7. You don’t want to work with him/her either.
  8. Rejection is when theory meets reality, the agent’s theory about what will sell and the reality that they’re wrong. Their loss.
  9. Get over it.
  10. Rejections have the charm of a car alarm but at least car alarms have a purpose.
  11. You thought your mss was a twelve-alarm fire. They called it a sparkler. They’re wrong.
  12. They used hyperbole to reject you, like, “This is the worst story I’ve ever read”. As though ‘worst’ is all the explanation necessary. Not.

My favorite survival tip is distraction. I have a lovely dog who thinks he’s pack leader of our family. I don’t disagree which puts me at his beck and bark anytime he chooses. That helps to distract me. Maybe you have a similar dog… or cat… If you do, you are nodding along with me.

#amwriting #IndieAuthor

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, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021. 

80 thoughts on “How to Survive Rejection

  1. With regard to point no. 7, Jacqui, I know from experience that if an agent/editor doesn’t respond to your query or manuscript — whether they read it or not — then he/she wasn’t someone you wanted to work with, anyway. It just wasn’t meant to be. Better to know that sooner than later.

    Liked by 1 person

      • That’s right. I’ve been an agented screenwriter — I was at a Big Letter agency here in L.A. — and I can absolutely confirm that worse than no representation is the wrong representation. You want an agent who’s all in on you — who wholeheartedly believes in you and champions your work. If an agent’s enthusiasm for a writer and her work doesn’t meet that high bar, then they’re not the right agent — period. So, every time a prospective agent passes, you can say for certain that was not the agent for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My target is 100 rejections before I draw the line in the sand. It will mean sending a lot more than 100 queries out as so many take either a very long time to respond or don’t ever respond. I don’t do too badly with rejection, thank goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jacqui, when I started writing I didn’t know about agents or that process at all. I was lucky as I sent my books to Anne from TSL Books and she loved them. They were her first children’s books and we learned together. I am perfectly happy with Anne and wouldn’t dream of publishing with anyone else. I have enough stress in my day job to last me and wouldn’t want to add it to my hobbies and leisure activities. I am glad you pushed on and self published. From what I hear, being published with a big publisher isn’t a bowl of cherries either. BTW, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte was self published initially.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. With the title of the post, I thought maybe this was going to be a “Dear Abbey” response, and in a way the same “tips” would probably help with other types of rejections, too. I don’t know what would have happened if the first attempt I made of publication (which was to a judged historical journal) had been rejected. Instead, the editor made some suggestions and asked me to rework it, promising he’d sent it to the reviewers. I did, the peer review gave their thumbs up, and I became a published author! I hate to say how long ago that was.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Best advice I’ve read in a long time – and you made me smile! Thanks for your generosity in sharing your journey.

    Agents and editors (of traditional publishing houses) are all about making money – the writer is just the delivery service of the package on the shelf, and they don’t care if you wrote a truly great story or a recipe for chicken soup. They want people to recognize your face/name/brand from a mile away so they’ll jam aisles to buy the book written by I Am Already Famous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This made me laugh, Jacqui. Ugh, those rejections are painful, especially the first few. It’s good to be able to laugh about them. Sadly, #6 seems pretty common, I’ve hit the send button on queries and received instantaneous auto-rejections. That’s when I decided I was just wasting my time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One must have incredible perseverance and belief in himself/herself to keep going in the face of rejection. I don’t understand the need to trash someone’s work. I understand that publishers can’t respond to the merits of each query they get, but if they’re going to respond with a scathing response, that seems a bridge too far.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rejection is part of life. In publishing no is a part of the saturation of the book industry. Getting published by a traditional publisher meant you made it as a writer. Today with millions of books available and Amazon destroying how books are sold and authors paid traditional publishing is being destroyed. Reality is traditional publishers are merging to keep afloat. I saved myself from being rejected by creating my own publishing company, Modern Mystic Media, LLC. My books are a business. If I create a large following maybe a traditional publisher might consider my work. I am not waiting for anyone to approve of my work. I keep my head down, butt up and keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Jacqui – it’s part of life isn’t it … we all fail all the time and keep going – and I bet there are zillions of books we haven’t read! Yes … having a pet can certainly take our stress away. So pleased you’ve overcome … stay safe – Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Jacqui, your have incredible dedication and patience … well done on your persistence of 100 query letters and it’s all their loss! Those rejections made you even more determined to succeed and be published on your own terms and your creativity and books are flourishing! Thanks for sharing your hard earned secrets to coping with rejections and yes, although I have no pets there is lots of other healing forms of distraction!

    Liked by 3 people

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