"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rejection Revelations...

(Why you Should Never Entrust Your id and Ego to an Editor)

I adore editors. As writers, where would we be without them? They’re like “image consultants” for our words. They give us poise on paper.
The good ones have superhero qualities, with the ability to transform and rescue by the power of their red pen!

But, let’s face it: editors are human. Believe it or not, they make mistakes, are subject to mood swings, and suffer some of the same maladies as the rest of us mere mortals. (And I should know, as the former Senior Editor of a popular regional publication.)

Which is why, as a serious writer, you should never let their words of criticism be the death of your confidence or career, if you want to go the distance, and enjoy the spoils of success.

Here’s how I had this epiphany.


A few years ago, I sent a piece out to an editor whom I held in high regards.
I was painstaking in my efforts, and was pleased as punch with the finished product. The next day, I excitedly opened my Email, to read her response.
She rejected it. But, not only did she reject it, she gave me a laundry list of things she thought were wrong, scolding me like an English college professor.
I was devastated and embarrassed.

After I sulked for awhile, and had a “pity party, “I took the article out again and reread it--twice. I disagreed with her assessment. I trusted my writer’s instinct and decided to disregard her instructions on how to rework the piece. Instead, the next day I submitted it to another publisher in its original form.

You know what happened? It was sold in a matter of an hour, with no revisions required. My writers’ confidence was restored, and all was right with the world again. Truth be told, since then it’s actually happened several times.

THE LESSON: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” In other words, treat periodic criticism as a guideline for your writing, not as gospel. If you’re proud of your project, and you’ve done your best, keep sending it out until you find the right market and editor for your work.
Whether it’s in medicine or the world of publishing, second opinions can be crucial to survival.

Here’s another case in point.


Not long ago, I wrote a commentary piece on the state of relationships today and the death of chivalry. I considered it thought provoking and timely. When I submitted it to my long time editor for a monthly column I write, she kicked it back. No explanation was given.
She merely said that she wasn’t “feelin’ it.”
Since I already had established a strong relationship with this editor, and felt that I knew her taste, based upon a strong acceptance record in the past, a few months later, I resubmitted. It was a no-go.

As they say, the 3rd time is a charm. And it was. Six months later, that same piece was finally accepted by my editor with no revisions, and appeared in our love issue. She and I laugh about it now, when I periodically remind her.


Sometimes in writing, as in other aspects of life, timing makes a difference, whether it’s a seasonal piece, an editor’s mindset, or current events.
Market accordingly and persevere.

It should also be noted that in a T.V. interview with author J.K. Rowling, she shared that her manuscript had been sent off over thirty times for the popular Harry Potter series, before she became an “overnight success.”


Nobody likes rejection, whether it’s personal or professional. But, in the overall scheme of things, rejection can be just as important to a writer’s maturity and development as acceptance. It all depends on what you choose to do with it.
Carpe diem!

How have you dealt with rejection in your creative career? Share your own "rejection revelations" here, personal or professional. :-)

Image credit: Federico Stevanin


  1. Many years ago, I submitted a cartoon (think New Yorker style) to a regional parenting magazine. A few days later the magazine editor called to ask if I could produce more. This was my first experience submiting my work and I was “giddy” with excitement during the call. What a mistake. Even before we hung up, I knew I’d blown my opportunity.

    Thanks for sharing this truly inspirational article Jen. It’s a great pick-me-up for those blue moments of self-doubt.

  2. Nikola,

    Glad to be of help! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience.

  3. I've had similar experiences. Have sold several pieces that were rejected by other publications. I agree with you, you can't take it as gospel; trust your instincts and use it to move ahead. I think that this is something we need to constantly remind ourselves of. Good post!
    Karen :)

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 14, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    Thanks for sharing this, Karen. Have a great writing week!

  5. Though i dont have much experience with editors, i really appriciate the post. Optimisitic!

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 16, 2010 at 5:29 AM

    My, my, what a surprise. :-) Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 16, 2010 at 5:31 AM

    Thanks, T.V.K.--glad you found the info uplifting.

  8. Beautiful piece, as always. As Peter says in "You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought":

    ..The worst that can happen is that someone will reject you. You are left with rejection. If you don't try, however, you have rejected yourself, and are left with exactly the same thing as if you had tried and failed---nothing. If you do try, however, you may get what you want. Even if you get rejected, you'll learn more from the experience than if you had never tried."

    Once, a wise person once told me, "Rejection to me, is a log on the fire that only makes me burn brighter."

    I feel that you are successful in your writing because you CHOOSE to turn the negative into a positive, and instead of allowing another's OPINION and PERSONAL TASTE make or break you, you are okay enough with *you* to not let it stifle you.

  9. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 17, 2010 at 5:12 AM

    Thanks, P.M. Page. I greatly appreciate your time and sentiments. Right back at ya'.:-)

  10. Jen: I thought this was a really helpful post and helps us understand what is really meant by perseverance. I appreciated the advice you gave that sometimes we just have to go with our own gut and what we feel is right. I think that is definitely a consistent lesson I have learned when things haven't gone as I thought they would. Sometimes it really is about relying on yourself and confidence and pushing through until you realize success. Thanks for the inspiration and words of wisdom.

  11. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 20, 2010 at 10:11 AM


    So good to have you here again and to have your input. Thanks for stopping by and providing your perspective. :-)Glad this piece helped.

  12. I haven't really pursued my freelance writing career because of rejection in my early years. However, thanks to blogging and writing every day, I am much more confident. I haven't submitted any query letters recently, but that's on my list of things to do in the near future.

  13. Jennifer Brown BanksSeptember 21, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    Good to hear, Marcie. Don't forget to revise the piece on "Desperate Women" and send it to B.S. Magazine. Success breeds confidence. :-)