The nine stages of facing rejection as a writer

If you aspire to the lofty heights of ‘published’ writer, no doubt you’ve faced rejection time and time again – as I have. I am currently querying my novel, Mesmerise, with agents and considering there are only 15 Literary Agents in Australia, and I can only submit to about seven, self-publishing is starting to look damn attractive right about now.

We should all expect to get rejected as a writer, so please don’t let it get you down! If all else fails there’s always self-publishing, or another wonderful story (with commercial potential) lurking in your mind.

Before I get all teary-eyed, here are the nine stages of getting rejected as a writer to cheer us all up! (Because we’re all in this together…)

1. Waiting anxiously to hear back and knowing ‘you’ve got this’ because you’ve already told half the people you know that you’re getting published



2. Your inbox ‘pings’ with an email from… THE PUBLISHER/AGENT!!

idea cat


3. Reading the rejection email – and your world falls apart



4. But then… you realise you must have sent your initial query to the wrong person. Let’s just change the title and genre and resubmit it 22 more times to make sure…



5. Seriously why the hell would you want to be published by them anyway? You’re better off without them



6. Wallowing in your self-pity, you wonder what you are going to say to the 200 guests that will be at your ‘getting published’ party next week

embarrassed cat


7. At this point, you just want to go hide in the biggest hole you can find



8. Eventually you realise that perhaps they really weren’t looking for a pirate romance right now. ISALLGOOD

waiting cat


9. Battle scarred but still hopeful as ever, you send off another round of submissions and march into battle

confident cat


Never give up… never surrender…

55 thoughts

  1. After years of both being rejected and accepted by publishers (yes, mostly rejected), I really focused on the contracts. You have little control over the result. You will make virtually no money. And you still have to do your own marketing. I have now self-published four novels, and that’s what I will stick to. Unless you become really famous (not necessarily from writing …), going with a traditional publisher just does not pay.


  2. I had a top agent who I had to fire after 4 years because his personal life was so messed up, he was rarely sending out my book. Then I made the mistake of signing with an Independent publisher. He was a horrible, verbally abusive, non-marketing jackass. After several years of anger, upsets, and frustrations, I finally I said, screw it! I took back my books and republished them myself on Amazon in October. I am so much happier, and I feel empowered! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m so glad your story has such a happy ending!! Im sorry you had such a bad experience with an independent publisher – sounds horrible! I’m thinking I should just jump straight into self-publishing, but I might still try a few publishers before I do ☺️

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Can I say that reading this made me sob grossly, but then I laughed because cat memes.
    I applaud you for even getting that far. I’ve been dreaming of being a published writer since I could read. I have more notebooks than I care to count with half-finished ideas, I just never get that far.
    I think I need discipline….yeah…and to stop falling down the side of complacency.
    So I applaud you. You are my unsung hero. You finished a manuscript (please teach me your ways) and that’s awesome. The fact that you’re going out there is awesome.
    So to wrap things up…I think I just wanted to tell you that’ you’re awesome.
    Don’t give up!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Like you I haven’t quite decided yet but even if you go with a mainstream publisher you end up having to do a lot of the marketing yourself via book shop signings, author talks and the like. They will give your book about 3 months to make it and if in that time it doesn’t it kind of fizzles. Admittedly they will do some advertising, get it in book shops and possibly get some reviews for it so there is some purpose with a mainstream publisher. I’m tempted to go self publishing and travel the countryside at the same time as it is released. Will enjoy watching your journey. Loved your cats. They made the rejections worthwhile.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is the most accurate thing, I swear! I’m currently querying my book ‘Exposed’ and I’m just hoping and wishing for the best. I think as long as you believe in your work, you’re good to know. It’ll fall into the right hands at some point, hopefully. Good luck on your querying quest!! I’m rootin’ for ya!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s SO easy to relate to this, but I’ve read some advice that says it can take 100 queries before your work reaches the right person. Good luck on your journey! I’ll be riding alongside you. 😊


  7. Everything I’ve read & researched about traditional publishing has me scrambling to self-publishing: keeping the rights to worlds and characters that you created, ability to choose copy editors, cover artists…and no “gatekeepers” standing in the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The self publishing route is the one I am taking. At the Writers Group I belong to we had a workshop on Self Publishing. There are some sites that charge you to “Self Publish” but the one I am using does not charge a sent, but recoups their costs once the books are sold. 🙂 Cheaper all the way around

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Millie! Your cats seem to be handling this quite well, but as a fellow human, I can’t underestimate the discouragement of all this rejection.

    You refer to the 15 literary agents in Australia (where I also live): try 168 rejections from American agents. This is what I endured with my YA project, Labels, until I was so discouraged that I gave up on it (for now) and went on to question myself so heavily that I am struggling to work my way through my very messy NaNo project, Death Imitates Art. I had imagined Labels as an eye-opener for scores of teenage girls who, like my former students, need to feel that their epiphanies about unreliable adults are simply a normal part of maturity. Labels was such a favourite of mine, and I was so proud of it, that it is mortifying to have professionals consistently knock it back: usually politely, but not always.

    So, what to do? Self-Publish? Perhaps not, in my opinion, as we must always make room for the remote possibility that these professionals really do know what will sell, and what won’t. Self-publishing is like running your own business: if you are an entrepreneur at heart, then go for it. Personally, I need a safety net, so I don’t think I will ever go that way… that may mean my writing is only for close friends and a few competitions, but that is better than not writing at all.


  10. My shortest rejection letter from an agent, said, “I’ll pass.” When I received the fifty pages of my requested MS back in my Self Addressed Stamped Envelope, it was written on the bottom of the first page. It’s been a long, long time and I still remember those words. I like having control over my work now. One perk I enjoy? I get to pick the models and design for my book covers.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Cats make everything easier… I think I’ll keep this article open in another tab while sending manuscripts off, so I can process my feels via felines

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I don’t know how to get a book published by a traditional publisher, but am thinking if the book content is as funny as these cats, you’ll get there and rock!! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  13. If you need a gentle nudge or hearty shove towards self-publication, go check out Joanna Penn’s podcasts at The Creative Penn. Seriously, they’re good stuff if you haven’t listened to them before. I think I’m going to do a post on why I am rejecting traditional publishing till they come to me on my turns. Of course, when does the 12th of Never come this year? 😉

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I’ve self-published four novels to date and I love it. Complete freedom, no having to ‘fit in’ to what someone else perceives to be marketable, and 70% royalties from Amazon as opposed to around 10-20% (if you’re lucky) from a traditional publishers. As long as you’re prepared to a) Be a good writer, b) Pay for a good editor and proofreader, and c) get an awesome cover made, why not give it a shot? Surely it’s better to have purchasable books in the marketplace than to spend years begging someone else to publish it? Who knows, if your self-pubbed book does well, the traditional publishers might come calling (a la Andy Weir (The Martian) and Hugh Howey (Wool series).

    Liked by 6 people

  15. Oh boy, I know that feeling so well. I’m running out of agents to send my book to as well. But at least these days we live in a world where mainstream publishing isn’t the only way. I’m starting to look at self publishing – so many people rave about it these days!

    Liked by 4 people

  16. 4 & 5, definitely – I’m still there. lol. The market is flooded. The process convoluted. If you look at writers market, it’s got long lists of what-not-to-send… which was odd, because these lists existed BEFORE 50 shades and in the heat of the Twilight hype. (i.e. no fan fiction)… I heard, in the old days, you just sent letters and the first few chapters straight to the publisher, no intermediary. (The how-to get published books had lots of history, little advice… lol) chin up. keep at it. eventually… fingers crossed.

    Liked by 4 people

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