The scary thing about querying agents is that they’ll either accept you and promise to make your dream of being an author a reality or reject you. Sadly, agents get so many queries you are most likely to receive the later. Here is how to handle it:

1. Don’t takes it personally

“It’s not you, it’s them.” This is the main reason they’ll say no. Fiction is an art and subjective. Your agent needs to love it to get behind it. They also need time to promote your books and can’t take it if it competes with another they are already pushing or can’t invest the time it deserves.

2. Deal with your feelings

It’s okay to be disappointed. All fiction writers have wild imaginations and you likely had a little day dream about getting signed by them. It’s okay and it’s not personal. Publishing is a business. So, allow yourself time to process their reply and don’t respond about what a big mistake they’ve made in passing on you. Just accept their position and move on.

3. Be in it, to win it

If you didn’t query, you’d never find an agent. Give yourself a pat on the back for all you have achieved. Writing a novel is no easy feat. It takes time, persistence and editing not to mention the accompanying documents. You’ve achieved so much. Be proud of yourself for being brave enough to put yourself out there.

4. Don’t give up

What sets apart ‘real writers’ from ‘wannabe writers’ is that we don’t give up. It’s time to think about the next project. You know, once you are lost in a new plot you’ll forget all about the agent(s) that said no. Perhaps this new novel will be the next best seller.

5. Reflect

Reflect on the process, review your submission(s), relook at the market and agents out there. Every experience is a chance to learn. If you allow yourself to gain from this, you will become a stronger writer. You can make changes, improve, and query again. Next round, they might say yes!


Please share with me your experience and tips for querying and how you handle rejection?

If you’ve not queried yet, I hope this post gives you the courage to go for it. Please let me know how you get on.

7 thoughts on “How to handle rejection

  1. Although I don’t write fiction, I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author (of a different genre), too. I can feel my fear of rejection getting in the way of that dream. The tips and reminders you’ve compiled here are a great help in grounding that fear. I guess it’s just more difficult for us writers because we’re often so emotionally invested in our work, but you’re right — publishing is a business, and we can’t take rejections personally. You’ve written such encouraging words about how important it is to not lose hope and keep going!

  2. Rejection is such a part of the life of being a writer, isn’t it! It’s like cleaning the toilet or any other chore. It’s uncomfortable, not fun, but a part of life.

    A mindset that helped me was just seeing it as a part of the journey. And you’re so right. It ISN’T personal! Many reasons are factored in for why an agent or publisher chooses not to go with your work. HAhaha. Although it can become personal if you chase an agent into the bathroom and shove your manuscript into the stall with them…

      1. Unfortunately, I’ve heard agents share such stories at writers’ conferences so it happens. I don’t think it should happen, though!

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