Tuesday, April 20, 2010

About Rejections (Part 1 of 9)

Early in my writing career, I sent a manuscript to Christianity Today and within weeks I received a rejection. Inadvertently, I sent the manuscript back to the same magazine. Two weeks later, the same editor not only accepted my article but also asked if I wanted to write paid book reviews. (Not being stupid, I said yes.)

I’m not encouraging writers to follow my example but only to point out that rejection is a subjective response. The cliché holds true: "What one editor hates another one loves."

Here’s another truism: If you’re going to submit material for publication, you’ll receive rejections. That’s a guarantee.

At a writers’ conference in North Carolina in 2001, the speaker asked those of us who had received more than ten rejections to stand. More than half the conferees rose. "How many have received twenty? twenty-five? thirty?"

As the numbers increased, fewer people remained standing. At the end, I was one of only three left. All of us admitted to having received more than a hundred rejections. I’ve been writing longer than the other two, so I assume I had more rejections. None of us felt embarrassed. In fact, one of them said, "Rejections are our red badge of courage—we had fought the battles and turndowns are our wounds."

Rejection is an unwanted-but-necessary part of professional writing. If you can't handle rejections, don't submit for publication.


  1. Cec,
    I am sure there have been times in your life when someone shared with you that your words were a gift from God...but just in case they haven't, please know this morning, as I sit here with tears of joy and a giggle in my heart--your post was a direct answer to my post last evening. On a side note, the other day, I reviewed your website and read all about the books, articles, etc that you have written. To be honest, that isn't what impressed me the most. What impressed me the most was your willingness and gift of mentoring new writers. Thank you for investing your time in someone's future. Hope you have an awesome day filled with many blessings!

  2. At a writers conference last year, a friend said that rejections are evidence that you are a working writer. Even the IRS uses them as proof. ;)

    Personally, I'd say that rejection, though painful to be sure, can produce Christ-likeness in us. He was rejected, and He was perfect. What else can we expect?

  3. Great thoughts this morning.


  4. I am standing up.

    Most of my rejections from editors have been kind. One who rejected a children's book sent me a pamphlet, "How to Write a Children's Book." I was a little miffed at the time, but now I can laugh about it.

    They spent money on postage to try to help me succeed. That's significant, don't you think?

  5. A Writer's Digest article helped me so much a few years ago: a young woman said her goal for the year was to collect a hundred rejections. Wow - that meant she had to do a lot of submitting. I took the example to heart and worked to send out something at least once a week that year, which toughened my hide more than any other exercise I set myself. The persistent stand.

  6. Thanks Cec for some very helpful advice you've posted on your blog. I also mentioned you on my blog today.


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