Coping With Rejection: Keep Writing Anyway.
Written by
Tayari Jones
August 2011
Written by
Tayari Jones
August 2011

Edan Lepuki has a great post up over at The Millions about a book she wrote that she hasn't been able to publish. If you are in this situation, I definitely recommend that you read the article. Here is the line I like best: "Lastly, these months of rejection have taught me the difference between being tenacious and being stubborn — and being stubborn and being desperate." In short you have to learn when to let go.

I would like to add just a little extra piece of advice about coping with rejection.

Just to establish my rejection bonafides: My first book Leaving Atlanta was rejected by 26 publishers. My new novel, Silver Sparrow, received about a dozen "passes". And in my desk drawer is a heartfelt, but unpublished and unpublishable novel called Evangeline. So despite what is happening to me right now, I know what I'm talking about when I talk about rejection and disappointment.

The best way to cope with rejection is to write something else.

After all, you would have to do that anyway. If your book is snapped up by your dream publisher and you sell foreign rights all over the world, what would have have to do next? Write the next book. No matter what happens, the next step is the next book.

So go do that.

And maybe one of those books in the drawer will be something you will be able to publish later. As for me, I am so happy that Evangeline is safely tucked in a drawer, although I worked so hard on it when I wrote it. But maybe you novel that isn't connecting with publishers today, will connect with them later. You'll still have it. And you still have to write something new.

Good luck.

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    In case anyone is having trouble finding an agent, there is another option now available. is a social interactive publishing website for aspiring authors.  It's sort of a cross between self-publishing and traditional publishing and allows users to decide what gets published.  It's a good place for people needing to prove they have what it takes!  Check it out!

  • Angelina Williamson

    I just finished my first novel at the end of spring and it's in the hands of an agent right now and I'm cuing up more agents to query.  I haven't gotten a rejection yet because it's so early in the game but before this book I had started a different one and set it aside to age.  I'm coming back to it now and it feels good to be moving forward with a new project.  I have no idea how long it will take for the first one to either get published or get put in the drawer but I can't imagine sitting still while I wait.  The more books I write the better I get at writing them and the more likely that eventually they'll see the light of day.  I love to hear you say GO WRITE THE NEXT ONE!

  • Thanks for lifting our spirits.  I like the question, "What would you have to do next?"  Very true in so many phases of writing.

  • Tina L. Hook

    I am in the rejection phase of things now, so these words go a long way for me. And yes, I need to start the next one.

  • This post reminded me of years ago, when I used to write a lot of short stories and send them out to magazines. At one point, I received several letters of rejection at the same time. I remember throwing them all, including my stories, on the living room floor. I was never going to write again!

    Eventually, of course, I picked up all the pieces of paper and got back to writing and submitting my work. That's all we can do; pick up the pieces and keep on writing.


  • Wendy Kelly

    That is the best advice I have heard yet. Thank you.

  • Such great, sound advice! I will keep writing in between the acceptances and rejections. Starting something new is an excellent idea!