Rejection Letters – Learn From Your Mistakes and Become a Better Writer

By Jo M Draper


As a writer, it is almost a given that your dream is for someone to notice your talents, realise your natural flair for words, and agree that your work is worthy of gracing the shelves of bookstores worldwide. Before you achieve that dream however, you have to let publishers know you’re out there. And that means writing letters, which in turn, if you’re lucky, means receiving replies to those letters. And more often than not those replies will be rejection letters.


But as disheartening as they are, rejection letters are a valuable tool for writers. If you get them at all, you should be honoured that the publishing team has actually taken the time to write. Many publishers do not enter into any communication if they do not want to see more of your writing, or take your manuscript any further. If you’re one of the ‘lucky rejects’ you may also receive some valuable feedback in your rejection letter. The natural instinct, when you receive such a letter is to dismiss it as a mark of your failure, and very few would happily trawl through this letter again and again, to try to take anything from it. But if you want to eventually succeed as a writer then this is exactly what you should do.


Rejection letters can often highlight really important elements of your writing, or your approach, that may be the reason for your lack of success to date. For example, a publisher may comment that they like the basic plot but the characterisation may be weak, or lacking in substance. This comment should be taken positively, firstly, because of the statement of fact that your plot has merit, and secondly because the characterisation is something that can be worked on and hopefully progressed to a point that publishers will consider taking it onto their list for the year.


A rejection letter may also highlight failings in presentation; did you follow the publisher’s submission guidelines? If not, then many won’t even bother to read your work. This is a really important point as potentially, the best literary works could be missed simply because the manuscript was not printed single sided, or with double spacing. Take note of any of these points that are raised in your rejection letter and make sure that you do not make the same mistake again.


Learning from your rejection letters can only have a positive impact on your writing and will, hopefully lead to positive results from future manuscript submissions.


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Some People Won’t Like It, and That’s Alright

By Benjamin C Andrews

It’s a never-ending quest to find that one thing that everyone likes. Something that would appease any man, woman, or child the world over. Every single person is different though, and I doubt there is any one thing that every single person likes. When we write stories, we write them with the intent that every single person who reads it will love it. That’s the way we want it to be, and what we tell ourselves. It’s alright to strive for that, but it’s important to keep both feet on the ground while your head is in the clouds.

Point blank, there are people who will not like your book. I’m not talking about people who are just being mean for the sake of it either. Real readers, who have read lots of books, and have nothing but praise for other books in your genre, will hate it. There will be comments, some published and posted, others only said where you’ll never hear. To top it all off, there may be no good reason other than it just didn’t do it for them.

And that’s alright.

It’s not fun to see those comments, but if writing were all sunshine and rainbows, everyone would be doing it. Don’t be discouraged by them though. It’s impossible to placate the palette of every single reader out there. Some will simply accept it wasn’t for them, and say as much should they review. Others will rip you and/or your work up one side and down the other. No matter what they say or how they say it, it’s important to remember they are just one reader. One reader who is entitled to think whatever they wish about your novel. That is the nature of art, to be displayed and judged by all who view it.

Be sure to absorb what is actually being said by that reader though. Some people just like to be mean, and those comments or reviews won’t do much for you. The ones that will though are the genuine, honest comments about why the reader didn’t like it. Negative comments and low-scoring reviews are a great place to learn about flaws your writing or writing style may have.
There is always more writing that can be done, and we grow and change with each word we write. Today’s dissatisfied reader may be tomorrow’s fan. It’s all about opening up yourself to both the good and bad of writing, learning from it, and compounding that experience into your next work.

I’m Benjamin C. Andrews, an author sharing my writing knowledge with others. Visit for more writing tips and tricks, and other quality information.
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