Bethany Maines drinks from an arsenic mug


Rejection is Knocking

Part of any creative endeavor that gets shared with the public is rejection.  I understand that not every person will love my creative projects.  And I even get that somewhere out there is someone who hates my books and art.  In fact, I kind of hope there is.  I would like to have a nemesis who howls with rage every time I put out another book.  After all, if I’m not sparking unnatural fury in the heart of someone, what am I even doing with my life? However, hatred would be welcome compared to the banal everyday “meh” of rejection.

Rejection Corgi with the caption... Dear Writer: It's not you. It's me. Sincerely, The editor.

Thanks, but no thanks…

I would not care to count up the number of rejection letters and emails I have received over my career, but I would guess that it’s in the hundreds. And by and large, most of them are a polite form of “it’s not for me.” There have been many that have been intentionally or unintentionally condescending. “You’re doing so well” is not the compliment some people think it is. Many people (particularly those under 30) seem compelled to offer tips and suggestions rather than stating why they personally did not accept something.  There’s a big difference between “you should work on your hook” and “I couldn’t see how I would sell this in the current marketplace. I needed a something to more strongly differentiate it.” One tells me why you rejected it, the other sounds like I suck as a writer. (You may say that is a slight misinterpretation, but my brain does not believe you.)

So why sign up for rejection?

Because the risk is worth the reward. And, of course, there are the corgi memes. And after the first fifty, the polite “no thank you” rejections don’t sting quite so much and you can move on to ice cream, alcohol, and burning the really crappy rejections. And as much as I hate to admit, the rejections have helped me become a better writer. Admittedly, they’re a bit like following street signs in a foreign language as I try to decipher what exactly they mean, but they still give some clues.  Right now, I have two projects out to various entities and I’m crossing my fingers that they don’t try to send me searching down the back alleyways to self-improvement. I’d much rather they went with a large flashing sign that says “I love it!” But just in case, I’ll keep the desserts, memes and cocktails at the ready.


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of action-adventure and fantasy tales that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind end. She participates in many activities including swearing, karate, art, and yelling at the news. She can usually be found chasing after her daughter, or glued to the computer working on her next novel (or screenplay). You can also catch up with her on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

5 replies
  1. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Love this, Bethany. I could never understand why someone would sob and wail when they received a rejection letter. Not to compare myself with JK Rowling but she received a whole slough of rejections and … well, I rest my case. Guess what, if your getting rejection letters as a writer, you’re doing your job.

  2. Debra H. Goldstein
    Debra H. Goldstein says:

    I don’t care what you say — I still hate rejections. They make me most unhappy, but encourage me to look at the piece again and see if there is a way to improve it — or, maybe it wasn’t right for that market, but is for somewhere else. Hurt, angry, disappointed = all good motivations to put one foot in front of the other and keep on trucking.

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