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‘No’ is not the end

How to deal with rejection

Starting out as a writer is often a starry-eyed experience. You follow a dream of seeing your name in print or on the front cover of a beautifully-designed book. This goal gives you drive, focus, and the hope of creating something wonderful for the world to discover.

Then, one day, you type The End and ponder the next step.

Do you approach an agent or a publisher? Do you submit it into a writing competition? Whatever you decide, you send it off and then hope for the best. 

It’s wonderful when your work is accepted or is among a list of winners but what do you do when a piece you’ve poured your heart and soul into is rejected? 


Rejection is part of the writing life. The Guardian has even described it as ‘the norm for authors’. Even renowned names have faced rejection. F. Scott Fitzgerald received 122 rejection slips before he sold a story. Stephen King’s novel, Carrie, was turned down over 30 times. The list goes on. 

Learning how to accept rejection is a pivotal part of your writing evolution. Rejection is not personal, although it may feel like it. There can be many reasons why a piece is turned down because the process is so subjective. It doesn’t necessarily mean your writing isn’t good and it certainly doesn’t mean you are not meant to be a writer. 


Accepting rejection as part of your writing life makes it easier to move onto the next stage: reflection. It’s time to look at why your work may have been rejected and see if there is anything you can do.

Some key reasons why writing gets rejected may be:

If you’ve had some time away from your work while you’ve been waiting for responses, try looking at it now with fresh eyes and see if you can identify further work that needs to be done. If you’re not sure, try sharing it with trusted writing friends or consider having a manuscript assessment from a professional organisations such as Reedsy, The Literary Consultancy or Jericho Writers. Then, edit, edit, and edit again.

‘Rejection can simply mean redirection.’

Maya Angelou


Rejection can hurt. Sometimes, you’ve done everything you can and your work is still rejected. It can be incredibly frustrating. There are several ways to rebuild your confidence and move forward positively: 

Don’t fear rejection. It’s an integral part of being a writer. Stephen King kept all his rejection letters and used them as motivation to do better.

When you open yourself up to rejection, it means you’re taking risks and pushing your boundaries. Each ‘no’ is a badge of honour. It means you have courage, are embracing opportunities to move forward and keep growing. 

Take rejection for a ride and keep writing! 

‘A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.’

Richard Bach

About Shelley Wilson

Shelley Wilson is a British, genre-straddling author of sixteen books including motivational self-help books and young adult fantasy fiction. She has a crazy black cat called Luna and is obsessed with vampires, Tudor and Viking history as well as exploring castles


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