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Reframe Rejection

May 30, 2023




Note From Rochelle


Dear writers,


Today’s tip is an excerpt from my book, Level Up. Lately, I’ve been collecting rejections. Instead of being discouraged, I’ve been trying to reframe rejection. This tip shows you how!


Happy writing,

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach


Reframe Rejection

By Rochelle Melander



To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.

– Aristotle


No one loves criticism, rejection, or failure. But if you’re going to be a writer, you’ll get a hefty dose of all three. Expecting it doesn’t make it easier. Every time I encounter one of these roadblocks, I stumble. I want to eat chocolate, drink wine, and wallow in self-pity. And that’s just fine—for a day. But a steady diet of self-pity won’t help you move forward.


Many popular authors had their best books rejected multiple times. Publishers rejected my favorite childhood book, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, 26 times. Two-time Newbery award winning author Kate DiCamillo received a whopping 473 rejections before her first book was published. But that’s not all! James Baldwin, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Louisa May Alcott were all rejected! Imagine what our shelves would look like if these fine writers had given up? Pretty bare.


The writers who get their stories, articles, and books published do so because they worked hard and didn’t let a tiny little thing like a rejection letter stop them.


In this quest, you will create a plan to reframe rejection and keep moving forward.


The Quest


Don’t interpret rejection from a job, a submission, or a person as a stop sign from the universe. Instead, let it remind you that you are a working towards your next great accomplishment. Use this quest to deal with the rejection you receive.


Step One: Look for Information

When we treat a rejection letter as information instead of judgment, we can use that information to move forward. Does the rejection letter have anything to teach you about your work? Is there a reason the submission didn’t work for this agent or editor?


This agent or editor may not give you this information. I’ve been submitting for more than twenty years, and I’ve rarely received a detailed rejection letter. Lately, some editors and agents have said that “no word” from them after a stated amount of time can be taken as a “no.”


So how do we get information from rejection? If we’ve submitted our stories to agents and editors looking for books like ours and we’re still getting rejected, then we might consider:


  • How does the work compare to what’s being published now?
  • How does the work compare to the work of the agent or editor’s other clients? (Maybe they’ve sold a book like yours recently or they work with a client who’s similar to you.)


Step Two: Consider Next Steps

Use the information you gained from the rejection letter to think about your next steps. Ask questions like:


  • Do I need to revise the work to make it more sellable?
  • Do I need to revise the pitch, to help agents or editors understand it more fully?
  • What agents or editors might embrace this story?
  • Could I do something different with the piece—perhaps turn it into a play or indie publish it?
  • Where will I send it next?



Step Three: Move Forward

If you know your next step for this project, then take it. If you don’t know what to do next, dig into a new project. Spend a little time each week working on a new story or project that gives you energy and joy. Then return to this project when you have the time and wisdom to deal with it.


For the Win

Get support! Connect with your allies, especially other writers and creatives who have experienced rejection—and hear how they turned it around and kept writing. Their stories will help you reframe your own rejection.


In time, the sting that comes with criticism, rejection, or failure will fade. You’ll be able to treat the rejection as information and move forward, toward success.







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