Thursday, August 6, 2009

Responding to Rejections

The other day, a friend of a friend tweeted in response to receiving a submission rejection letter. A few of his followers copied his message, added encouraging words, and sent it back into the twitter universe. Now people who have never met this writer know two things about him.

1. Somebody just rejected his writing.
2. He is sulking about it.

Neither of these occurrences is uncommon for writers. Almost everyone actively pursuing publication collects form rejections. And they sting. You send your “babies” out with high hopes and big dreams. Let yourself mourn, for a minute or two, and then get back to work. But be careful who you invite to your pity party. Do you really want an agent or editor who might be checking out your work with hesitation to see your announcement that others are quickly dismissing it? You can whine, but do it offline and to someone who loves you more than your virtual friends.

Posting your writer rejections on the internet is like drunk dialing after a breakup. It might seem harmless at the time, but when you look at the after effects, it ain’t pretty.

And followers: send your kind thoughts, but don’t spread the word about someone else’s rejection. Respond without repeating it. Otherwise, you are the buddy who watches your friend in his moment of weakness and takes his picture.


  1. BTW, the people I follow would never try to hurt someone's career on purpose. I don't follow folks like that. :)

  2. I haven't posted about any of my submission rejections on my blog, and never analyzed why. Maybe I'm intuitively aware that it's not a good idea to have that information out there for the world to see. Sometimes being an introvert is a good thing! Thanks for spelling it out so clearly.

  3. I totally agree with you--there are way too many industry people out on Twitter and FB for someone to post about their rejections there.

    My editor is on Twitter and I'm very careful what I'm tweeting about! We all have to stay professional.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  4. I agree! thanks for stopping by :)

  5. I've never thought about it this way! It's a smart thought, though. If you've got an agent with your query and they Google your name, the first thing that comes up for a lot of people is your Twitter account (it is for me). If the agent liked your pages and query, but sees that you've been rejected several times, they might think twice about requesting - not only because of the rejection, but also because agents like to think they are the only ones you queried (even if they know you are probably querying multiple people). Good post!

  6. "Posting your writer rejections on the internet is like drunk dialing after a breakup."

    HILARIOUS AND TRUE! :) Can I quote YOU in the twitter universe with that line? It is perfect!

  7. Thanks, everyone. And Donna, feel free to quote me. :)

  8. Strange I've stumbled along this blog because I keep a diary about my submissions and rejections.
    I think if my diary can help someone *not* make my mistakes then it's a diary worth keeping.
    I don't, ever, knock my rejections though, and I don't invite sympathy. Every rejection I get is a step up in my opinion.

  9. Excellent post Laura. I mentioned my rejections in my end of the year/new year's goal post on my blog, but only as a way to reflect on what I learned. You shouldn't complain about them, or any part of the submission process online. Keep the behind-the-scenes stuff behind the scenes. I don't think most people realize how big their internet footprint is.

  10. Thanks, Austin! You are right about the enormity internet footprints. And once something is out there, it's impossible to remove it.