Rejection Letters are Opportunities

Ron Samul, MFA
4 min readOct 23, 2020

I’ve been rejected from every type of writing professional possible. Agents, beta-readers, publishers, contests, magazines, blogs, awards, fellowships, graduate programs, friends, mentors, and readers. Do not give up!

Writing is creative and artistic. But as soon as you package something with a cover letter and send it out for someone to review, you are now marketing. That is a very important distinction to make. Always remember when you step back and fourth over this line.

The worst possible rejection you can get is a non-response. You don’t know how or why the rejection happened, it was just a “no”. But if you can get something in writing, then you are gaining. You can use these rejection letters to help shape and sharpen your novel or story vision. And get it in front of the right reader.

Listen

When you get rejected, listen to the advice or reason for the rejection. I know it is frustrating, but it helps to read a response a few times. I have misunderstood comments when I first read them because I was frustrated or angry. Read them over and take stock in what they are saying. Good comments are not a stamp, but something that will give you insight. For example, “This story seems original, but it doesn’t fit our audience.” That is actually a tell that your writing was fine, but it wasn’t a good fit for the magazine. That is research and marketing. I’ve gotten feedback like, “While the book is mysterious and has a Hawthorne like tone, in the end, I didn’t feel we could represent this book.” This is worth keeping in the file. This is helpful feedback that can be used to rewrite your cover letter.

No Immediate Reactions

It is important for me to temper any immediate response. I get frustrated and have a knee-jerk reaction. But after a few hours, I always come back to it and think about my writing. If an editor says something like, “This didn’t fit our magazine, but please send more of your work.” It doesn’t mean immediately, it means we like the writing style, but we don’t like this particular piece. I’ve worked on the other end of that response and received more work from a writer in a few minutes. Part of the job, in terms of the writer as a seller — is to be professional and continue to play the percentages. Don’t respond with a…

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Ron Samul, MFA

Writer and educator based in New England. MFA in creative and professional writing. His novel The Staff is available through Amazon. / www.RonSamul.org