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Category ArchivePublishing

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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Benefits to Using a Traditional Publisher versus Self-Publishing

Creative Juices is complete.  But now the real work begins; find a publisher.   Preferably, a traditional publisher.  I have to find a company who appreciates my story enough to publish it.  But I also have to find an editor who’s willing to work with me long term.


Traditional Publisher or Self-Publishing

Sure, I know I can self-publish.  But there are a lot benefits to waiting for a traditional publisher.  For one, self-publishing doesn’t provide rejection letters.  If a book doesn’t sell, a writer has to just sit and wonder why not.  I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer by receiving rejection letters.

>> Read How I Became a Full Time Writer Here  <<

Most traditional publishers will list exactly what they’re looking for on their website or blog.  As a writer, it’s important to use these “open calls” as resources.  The list should tell a writer all the manuscript requirements such as:  genre, word count, deadline dates, etc..  But it also describes the genre in detail.

The first step is to make sure that the story fits the mold.  Is it exactly what publishers are looking for?  Is it what the market is looking for?  A traditional publisher can help because there’s a team of people and abundant resources to help answer those questions.  With self-publishing, a writer must do all the market research alone.  He or she isn’t just a writer.

There are also many benefits to working with an established company.  For one, having an ongoing social presence is vital to selling a book.  Self-publishing is expensive and social media management takes a lot of time away from a writer who could be doing more writing.  Yes, a writer needs to promote and sell, but it shouldn’t be their main job.  Let someone else help with that part too.

Traditional publishers have a team who provide one v. one time with writers.  Individual editors, creative teams and marketing teams who acquire hundreds of hopeful manuscripts each month.   They’ve seen it all, and they know what it takes to make it in the business.  More importantly, they know what to look for and they know what’s selling.  Anyone can write a story but only good stories sell.


Finding a Publisher Without an Agent

Some publishers will not work with writers unless they have a literary agent.  But, I can’t afford to hire a literary agent.  I have to take my chances with publishers who offer open calls and accept unagented submissions.   I have to enter every writing contest available, blog, and work as a ghostwriter to get more writing experience.  It’s a slow process, but I can afford time, not money.
A lot of writers resort to self-publishing because it seems faster.  But faster doesn’t necessarily equal better.  Some publishers take 12 to 16 weeks for a decision, but slow and steady often wins the race.


Resources to Find a Publisher

I’ve read information on countless websites and blogs about tips on how to find a publisher.  The Writer’s Market provides an updated listing for nearly every publisher looking for contest, magazine and book submissions.  A reference book like this is a great resource for writers to have.

Benefits of working with a Traditional publisher<<  Get your copy on Amazon and have it shipped directly to you!

The best way to publish is to share your work.  Start by entering a writing contest, put it out there, and pray.  Do your best and then hope that every birthday candle and starlight star bright wish comes true for you.

Every publisher is different and every rejection reason is different.  But you won’t know how different unless you start looking for one.

At first, it seemed pointless for me to dedicate so much of my time into writing a story.  Especially, without any real guarantee that it’ll become successful.  But publishing is only half the battle.  Technically, I publish every time I update my WordPress blog.
The real benefit to working with a traditional publisher is that I get to prove that I’m teachable and that my ideas are marketable.