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What I Learned by Receiving My First Rejection Letter from a Book Publisher

Rejection Letter

What I Learned by Receiving My First Rejection Letter from a Book Publisher

Five months and two days ago, I received my first rejection letter from a publisher.  I won’t bother mentioning the publisher’s name because it doesn’t really matter.  But after reading the letter, I knew what I did wrong with my submission.  Yes, I read the submission guidelines thoroughly – twice.   But I still missed a few steps along the way, which had nothing to do with my writing or the publishing process.  My get-it-done personality got in the way.


Vague Wording in Rejection Letter

I could tell my rejection letter was a form letter.  The publisher inserted my name, the title of my book, and a clicked on a rejection reason.  Then the system populated the necessary fields, and the publisher hit send on the email.

But I learned a lot about myself as a writer.  First, my get-it-done personality likes to sacrifice quality for quantity.  I took months to write and edit my story, and I wanted to get my manuscript to a publisher right away.

Second, I’m a perfectionist.  I read the submission guidelines closely but I forgot to make sure my story fit the particular call.


“Unfortunately, after careful consideration, we have decided that it is not a perfect fit for inclusion in our upcoming…”


The publisher didn’t say whether my story was good or bad.  Well, unless “not a perfect fit,” is just a polite way of telling me that my story needed more work.  I don’t know.  But suddenly, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the word, perfect.

I’ve never been perfect for anything.  But maybe imperfection is the educational part of creative writing.  I don’t have to be perfect.  I just have to persistent and strive to learn something new from every rejection letter I receive..

Some Learning Curves in Writing are Hard to Navigate

At first, I struggled with the publisher’s rejection letter because it was very vague and impersonal.  Initially, I wanted to forget about traditional publishing and try to self-publish my story.  Then I did some more research and learned about all the benefits in choosing a traditional publisher over self-publishing.

Through the submission process, I learned a lot about the writing and publishing industries.  I received a rejection letter, but not all is lost.  Yes, I had my heart set on working with one particular publisher, but now I know there are many others to choose from.


Reviews from my Guest Readers

According to my guest readers , my book, Creative Juices, is a fun read.  Some of my readers want to read it again, while others want a paper copy.  But my biggest learning curve happened when one of my readers wanted to know when the next book was coming out.

When I first started writing Creative Juices, I didn’t think about making it a miniseries.  But now, I think it would work as one.  My readers still want to know more about the characters and they can’t wait to find out what happens next.  I learned that I always need to think about what’s next when writing.

In closing, I’m glad that I finished writing the novella.  I honestly wanted to throw in the towel several times, but I didn’t.  Now, I have an opportunity to make it a duology or trilogy.  And, based upon my reader’s feedback, I’m sure they’ll support me along the way.

If you’re a writer and you receive a rejection letter from a publisher don’t worry.  Keep going because there are a lot of publishers looking for stories.  And, I can honestly say that just by hitting a submit button, I already felt accomplished.  So, that has to be worth something, right?


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D. M. Stephenson

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