It’s going to happen someday. You’re going to open your inbox, and it’s not going to be the headline that makes your eyes leap to that one email.

Your blood pressure’s going to rise, and it’s going to seem like Chrome slows down in opening that email that’s going to change your life.

You don’t even read the whole email. You just skim to capture the tone and find the dooming line that ultimately says, “Thanks but no thanks.”

Before you hit delete, write off the publication as not knowing good work when they see it, drown your sorrows in a gallon of ice cream, and swear you’ll never write again, wait.

photo credit

photo credit: Daniel*1977 via photopin cc

1. Thank them.

If appropriate, thank the publication for taking the time to review your piece.

Sometimes rejections come from publications where you’ve got a relationship. Thanking them—as opposed to arguing—will open the door for a continued relationship. It might even result in more feedback for you to utilize in number three.

Rather than replying to a form letter, give yourself an internal high five because that publication took the time to read your piece. Even if it’s rejected, you still deserve a “Kudos” because it means you’ve shipped. You gave it your best.

2. Realize rejection is part of writing.

No writer has ever had every piece accepted. The rejection you received is not a personal attack on you, your writing, or your style. Rejection letters simply mean the piece you submitted is not a good match for what the publication is looking for. You may have a stellar piece that would be a perfect match at another publication. Your job is to find the right publication for your piece or make your piece right for that publication.

3. Take a step back.

Did the letter include tips for improvement? If so, take those to heart. They’re not just included in there to make your life miserable and help you see how bad your piece is. They’re a goldmine of tips that could have you perfect that piece or draft a completely new one.

However, just because you make all of the changes suggested does not guarantee future publication but it could increase your chances.

4. Try again.

Rejection is not a conclusion. It’s part of the writing process. Don’t give up. Don’t stop writing.

How do you cope with rejection?


Look over the last piece you had rejected and see where you can make improvements. Post the improved one in the comments and comment on a few others.

(If you haven’t had a piece rejected recently, submit something and post what you submitted here).

Katie Axelson is a writer, editor, and blogger who's seeking to live a story worth telling. You can find her blogging, tweeting, and facebook-ing.

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