Coping with Rejection in the Literary World — Dos and Don’ts

Rejection is not fatal.

I don’t remember where I heard that phrase or who coined it, but the power of those four words resonated with me from the moment I heard them. I agree, rejection isn’t fatal…but it can burn like a habanero pepper exiting your digestive tract. Having felt the burn all too often (I’m referring to rejection, of course) I decided to write this post to help others offset the sting.

Don’t expect overnight success. It often takes years to gain recognition (as much as 10+ years for many authors).

Don’t write solely for fame and fortune. Find contentment in your ability to touch others through the power of your words—even if that happens to be a small number of people. Doing so immortalizes yourself in the minds of your readers and that’s priceless!

Don’t lose sight of why you write in the first place. Don’t let the cutthroat murkiness of the industry blind you from what truly makes you happy. That’s writing, isn’t it?

Don’t be afraid of rejection. It will almost certainly happen to you at some point, if it hasn’t already. Rather than view it as an obstacle that separates you from broader recognition, think of it as an ascending step toward your audience and your place in the industry.

Don’t take rejection personally. It’s not a personal attack on you or your work. Nor is it the ultimate deciding factor of your success. For every no there is at least one yes out there somewhere.

Do give yourself a break when you need to decompress. I tend to get restless whenever I’m not working on something, but I admit, straining under the pressure only increases the chance of a major meltdown or outburst.

Do pace yourself and, if necessary, reevaluate your goals and the steps you’re taking in order to achieve them (I’m currently doing this, myself—which is why I’ve been offline so long).

Don’t compare yourself to others or try to be exactly like them. It’s okay to draw inspiration from those you admire, but remember; there’s a difference between paying homage and committing plagiarism.

Don’t measure your level of success with authors whom are doing ridiculously well. Envy is a natural emotion, especially when you’re struggling, but don’t let it get the best of you by infecting your mind with thoughts of inferiority.

Don’t attack those who reject, or disagree with, your work! Remember, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Besides, success is the best revenge.

Do consider other publishing options if you’re confident your work is at its very best, but is somehow unable to permeate the traditional market.

Last, but not least…

Don’t give up!

Best of luck to you all, my fellow word warriors!


Shykia Bell is the author of the CAMILEON saga, currently available via Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

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