When Your Manuscript is Rejected by an Agent/Publisher Write a Hate-filled Letter…and Other Ways to Ruin Your Reputation

Rejection hurts. Rejection is humiliating. Rejection is heartbreaking. Does this mean you should write a hate-filled letter to the publisher or agent rejecting your precious work of art? No. While throwing a temper tantrum may feel good, it certainly doesn’t look good.

Write the letter if it helps  purge your feelings. Then invite a good friend (or two) over, let them read your rant, then hold a ceremonial burning of the evidence. Whatever you do, don’t mail the  darned thing off to the agent or publisher who rejected your manuscript. You will be setting yourself up for failure, or at least ridicule and mocking from the recipient of your angst. They will be sure to mark you as non-recommendable and put you in a special file reserved for “never sign this person.”

Submitting authors need to understand that when they burn bridges (pardon the cliche) they only hurt themselves. What may be rejected today may end up in a bidding war in six months. If an agent or publisher rejects a manuscript that does not mean they reject  the author. I wish more writers would understand this concept instead of deteriorating into an emotional breakdown over it. Perhaps the manuscript wasn’t a good fit for that agent or publisher. This does not mean they might not pass it on to another agent or publisher. That is how the industry works, by word of mouth and a  good reputation.

This is a good time to evaluate yourself as a writer, not your writing skills but your people skills.

  • Do you have the kind of personality that will incite publishing professionals to recommend you?
  • Can you win people over with your kindness?
  • Are you easy to work with?

Believe me when I say this, publisher’s won’t work with a difficult person. Your name will go into a  file called “Life’s too Short.” I have this information on good authority.

As a precautionary warning: you don’t know where your manuscript will end up, and people will remember you for how you behave. Politeness goes a long way.

In the rare instance an author gets feedback as to why the manuscript is being rejected, treat it as golden. If something is pointed out as a flaw or an area that needs more work, then that is the perfect opportunity to go back to the manuscript and make it better. Make it something no one can reject! As Steve Martin so eloquently stated, “Be undeniably good.” OK, so that is too easy and simple, but that is how it works.

Instead of a hate-filled letter, try one full of appreciation for their time and consideration. Thank them for the opportunity, thank them for the feedback. Being grateful works!

Sometimes the rejection letter is just what it is, a rejection, cold and hard. Re-evaluate who you sent your query to. Perhaps they aren’t a good fit for you. Keep pushing forward. Take each rejection as a learning experience, learn patience, learn persistence, these are virtues that will take you far in life. As the good book says, “Shake the dust from your feet, and knock on another door.”