Your value or talent is not determined by rejection

You’ve put the final punctuation mark on the literary masterpiece you’ve slaved over for years, decades, or, perhaps, since in utero. Once exposed to the world, you know the world will shower accolades on your genius. Organizations like Pulitzer, MacArthur, and Nobel will beat down your door.

You dream big, because to do anything less is an affront to all that is your brilliance.

That dream list of agents and publishing houses, you’ve cobbled together from publishing magazines and author acknowledgements, is burning a hole in your desk drawer. One of them will be your golden ticket.

You dash out a form query, that can be fitted to every agent on the list and send a sliver of your soul to each address.

What? Anne Gizmo from ACME Literary Agency in New York City sent you a pithy, form letter rejection. Crumpling it up into a ball, you score a three-point shot into the waste basket on the far side of the room.

Wait a minute. A form rejection from Lucy, Todd, Karen, Anne 2, Bob, and Gary arrive in your mailbox. Each form a shaft through the heart.

Dear (insert writer),

Thank you for sending in your manuscript. Unfortunately, this is not the right project for me.

Good luck with your writing.

Sincerely, (insert agent name)

Crushed, you burn the manuscript while vowing to never let the Philistines ever hear from you again.



It absolutely matters that you are passionate about your project. That being said, you can’t be so blinded by your own brilliance you forget some basic things.

  1. There will always be multiple drafts to your project – No manuscript springs fully formed from a zit on a mythical god’s forehead. Draft one is a brain dump, a way to get everything story related onto the page. Drafts two to eleventy-billion is the process by which you sculpt the story into something wonderful.
  2. Every story you work on needs beta readers – Trusted people who will tell you the truth and offer constructive thoughts on how to make the project better. You might not use everything they say, but that feedback will be invaluable.
  3. All manuscripts need to be reworked – Whether it is feedback from your betas, an editor who you are paying to polish your manuscript, or a midnight revelation as to how to make the story better, very few manuscripts spring into existence fully formed and perfect.
  4. Everyone needs to be edited – On Chuck Wendig’s blog, he posted about how important it is that you have your work edited by some one who is not you.

Whether you self, hybrid, or traditionally publish, your job as a writer is to put forth the best version of your project. Taking risks and failing is part of the creative process. Sometimes you have to shelve a manuscript and move on to something else to allow the story to mature and ripen.

So, check the ego and let the process happen. There is a whole lot of crazy in this world of writing and publishing, not losing our perspective is what will allow us to succeed.


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