Peggy Bechko: What Every Writer Needs To Know About Rejection

NOTE FROM LB: One thing I’ve learned during my long (Yikes! Sooo long indeed!) career is that unlike other so-called verities, artistic truth is for all practical purposes eternal.

In this article from 2013, one of TVWriter™’s favorite writers and even more favorite human beings, Peggy Bechko, gives us a thoughtful lesson  we all need, in practical and creative truth.


Writers Dealing With Rejection
by Peggy Bechko

battle angelOkay, the truth hurts. The fact is no matter how good a writer you are, no matter how persistent and devoted to your writing, you’re going to receive rejections.

Probably a lot of them over time.

Naturally every writer would like to have all his or her writing recognized for the incredible gems that they are and published forthwith, but here’s where reality intrudes: it ain’t gonna happen.

Even if your writing is perfect in every way, a gem, polished to sparkling perfection (yeah, like that’s going to happen) it might not be to an editor’s taste or the editor could be having a bad day and not like anything coming across the desk, or a lowly reader wouldn’t pass it on to said editor.

So, what to do?

How to avoid becoming depressed, frustrated, and one of those writers who fall by the wayside and give up?

First, remember a few simple facts. Agents and editors are swamped with submissions by dabblers, those who pursue writing for amusement and not as their life’s work. This can be good news for the serious writer who’ll find the more professionally he or she approaches an agency or publisher, the more seriously a submission will be taken.

Secondly, the bad news is established agents get over one hundred submissions a week. Top publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from writers are equally buried. Good news from the perspective of the professionally minded aspiring writer is more than ninety percent of the submissions received aren’t worth looking at twice. Make sure your writing is in the 10% category.

Consider how many writers (read dabblers) put out sloppy work filled with errors; typos, grammatical, or form. Others don’t give a thought to whom they are submitting.

Whether to an agent or a publisher, it’s the writer’s responsibility to know to whom he or she is talking. Know if the publisher publishes the kind of story you are submitting. Know if the agent handles the type of book you are proposing. If you send a science fiction book proposal to a publisher of romance novels you can be certain that proposal will be in the trash can or zapped off email within moments.

Don’t go thinking your work is somehow magical and when you submit a romance to a western publisher (assuming it isn’t a western romance) that it will somehow slip through and be published. Same thing with an agent.

If you mail a query or proposal to several places at once, personalize each one. If they figure you’ve mailed your submission to every agent or publisher in the known universe that, too, will land your submission in the trash heap. Even if you DO submit to every agent and publisher in the known (and perhaps undiscovered) universe they don’t have to know that so take that extra moment and don’t give them reason to guess.

If you do your job right, if you research and rewrite until you know to whom you’re sending your writing and you know it is the best that it can be, then you’ll find you’re not competing with all those hundreds of writing submissions, but rather with only perhaps the ten percent who comport themselves as professionals.

So, you’re doing everything right. Cool!

You’re still going to get rejections. Expect it. Simply put, the chance that what you write will be exactly what any single editor or agent is looking for today is usually very small. Remember, even big-name writers get rejections. Comforting, huh?

Don’t take it personally. Perhaps your piece just wasn’t the right thing for that publication at that time. Perhaps they have something similar in the works. Perhaps that particular editor is going through a very nasty divorce, is drinking heavily and nothing would look good to him/her. It isn’t necessarily a rejection of YOU, nor is it a put down on your writing abilities.

Develop a thick skin, ride it out and when you receive a rejection think of it as an opportunity. Send out a new query immediately. If it is a novel, send it to a new publisher or agent for consideration. If it’s an article, send a new query to the editor from whom you’ve just received the rejection, then tweak the original and send that out to a new editor.

Oh, and did I mention don’t call an editor or agent to argue how they’re wrong about rejecting your article, novel, script or whatever. Won’t help, will only hurt.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle.

Peggy Bechko: Your Ugly What? – The Art And Craft of Writing (not to mention editing)

i.chzbgrby Peggy Bechko

“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” Mark Twain

“It’s hard to take someone seriously when they leave you a note saying, ‘Your ugly.’ My ugly what?” Cara Lynn Shultz

Yep, they’ve noticed too! Seriously. I read. A lot. Have you been reading what’s out there? I admit I’m not perfect and mistakes slip past me too, but really….

While the ‘big publishing houses’ tout their wonderfulness because “indies don’t edit or proof read properly” I’m reading novels with errors up, down and sideways. Errors maybe put there by writers (and maybe not), but most certainly not found by those fabulous in-house editors. Words just stuck in there, with no connection to the sentence they’re in. Plain old spelling errors, grammatical errors that have nothing to do with literary license and many more.

And I don’t mean on one page or once in a while, I mean peppered throughout the whole book! I actually got so frustrated with one book (by an author I really like) that I sent an email to the publishing house asking if their editors were sleeping in the back.

I’ve also read indie published books like Luke Romyn’s Beyond Hades (Prometheus Wars Series http://amzn.to/1oC42ZW ) also his “Legacy” series that had very few slips and was (were, as I read the books in both series) great reads. And M Pax, SciFi writer of The Backworlds series http://amzn.to/18LtNzT (first novella is free) who also has very clean copy.

And those are just two, there are plenty of others. So far in my recent experience the Indies are stacking up better than the publishing houses. Clean copy, easy to read, great stories. And the big houses wonder why their sales are slipping and people aren’t so impressed these days.

So, why do I bring all this up? Let me elucidate. It’s simple. Be honest, how do glaring written errors affect your reading? Doesn’t it pull you up short? Put a bump in the road? Yep, right, it certainly does for almost everyone.

The reader pauses, trying to figure out what is supposed to be there or what the writer means – then continues on – or not! It’s the ‘or not’ that can do an author in. You know, the moment when the reader tosses your book aside and remembers your name for the wrong reasons when it’s the publisher who hasn’t done the final job.

This problem applies to screen scripts as well for those of you who write them and are grinning at the publishing world. An error or typo or two can be easily forgiven. We’re all human. It’s difficult to catch everything in a long written piece. A small blip and the reader continues on.

But repeated, multiple missteps, page after page? Nope. At some point the reader gives up and throws in the towel, tossing the mangled script or book aside for something with a smoother gait. (see paragraph above).

So, here’s what you do. Since everything else is now falling under the author’s purview you might as well accept the fact you need to self-edit and do it well. Of course a little help is nice if you can get it. A professional editor at the end of your writing if you can afford it.

If not, how about a friend with a red pen who’ll happily mark every typo, every grammatical slip or weird sentence he or she can find?

Really, find a path you can follow to clean up that written page. Life will get better when you do.

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Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts for the past week:

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And our most viewed resource pages were:

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

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THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Rules

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Thanks for making this another great week here at TVWriter™, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

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Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts for the past week:

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Thanks for making this another great week here at TVWriter™, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 10/25/13

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Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts for the past week:

Peggy Bechko: Name Those Characters – A Writer’s Puzzle

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And our most viewed resource pages were:

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Thanks for making this another great week here at TVWriter™, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!