Why Your Work is Being Rejected (And What to Do About It)


If you’ve been writing for years, then your skills have (hopefully) vastly improved. And yet you’re still getting rejected. Doesn’t make sense, right? Odds are the reason your work is discarded has more to do with your name not being Lee Child or Laini Taylor than with your writing skills. Struggling writer Chuck Ross suspected this very thing was lurking at the heart of his mounting rejection pile. So he decided to run a sneaky test. He submitted Jerzy Kosinski’s award-winning novel Steps to 14 publishers under the fictional name ‘Erik Demos’. All 14 rejected the novel. He received a form rejection letter from the house that had published it! Fourteen publishers failed to recognize a book that had already been published and won an award—because no one looked at the title or writing. They saw only the unknown name of the submitting writer and rejected the submission based solely on that unfamiliar name. –Rotten Reviews.

So how can you subvert this annoying phenomenon? Well, you could change your name to Catherine Coulter, but sooner or later your little floy-floy will be found out and boy will your face be red then. The only real option is to think small at first. I submitted to e-zines and contests that didn’t cost me an arm to enter. These types of publishers and small presses are not as prejudiced as those stuffed-shirts in New York. They value quality stories and content over brand name author names (unless a well-known author happens to submit, in which case the same rules apply and you’ll be SOL).
Dream Big but Start Small. You can’t reach the upper rungs of the Writing Ladder without first climbing the lower rungs. Then again, there is the rare and thrilling tale of the unknown who was hoisted from the slush to become an overnight success. But don’t wager your career on blind luck. Work-work-work first. Make a name for yourself with the small places. One rung at a time. Eventually your name will grow (literally: the better known the author, the larger his/her name appears on their books. Just look at Stephen King’s books: His name up top, title in smaller font below). How have you handled your rejections? Cried? Gotten plastered? Considered submitting your thoughts to the rejecting agent in an angry rage-monster letter? I’ve done all these things. Share your response. We’d love to hear it.

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