Rejection Netiquette


Let's face it, rejection isn't the fun part of writing. No one wants to find one lurking in the Inbox, or hiding among the bills and leaflets. A tough rejection can turn a good day into a bad one, and a bad day into something that makes us actually look forward to the 2012 Apocalypse.

Rejection is the Dark Side of writing.

In the age of social networks, the ability to purge ourselves of our frustration, anger and hurt over a rejection can be achieved with a few short clicks. Now more than ever, it's easy to connect with others, sharing details and commiserating. A little crying, a little fist-shaking and we can get on with the day. The question is, should we?

Let's look at the pros and cons.

Say you blog about your latest rejection. Here's the pros:

--It helps you feel better.
--The writing process is cathartic.
--You connect with your readership, who are in the same boat.
--Your readers can offer words of encouragement in the comments, providing you with a much-needed pick me up.

And here's the cons:

--Emotions can affect judgment. You might be too candid or worse, be rude or disrespectful to the person or publishing house that rejected you.
--Voicing your frustrations can sound whiny or sour grape-ish.
--You're announcing the fact that you've been rejected! Anyone can read about it, including the eds and agents you've submitted to who are still interested in your work. What will happen to their interest level when they go to check out your web presence and a couple of clicks shows them just how many places have rejected the MS they are now reading?
--It can be viewed as unprofessional. I know, some people might disagree because rejection is a part of the process, but if you are seriously working toward publication, you should always be aware of those who might be among your online audience. Editors and Agents expect you to be able to take rejection or criticism and still remain professional. Six paragraphs of DIE EDITOR DIE isn't going to endear you to anyone in the business except other frustrated writers.

Bottom line: when you're out in public, make sure you're pants are on.
Blogs, Tweets, Status Updates, etc are all ways for agents, editors and booksellers to find out more about you and your working style. Be aware of who might be reading about your writing journey--the ups, and the downs.

20 comments:

Lady Glamis said...

I just read a great article yesterday about rejection. You Can Read It Here

Thanks for sharing yours, too. These are some great points and things to ponder!

Liana Brooks said...

But what if it's a very nice rejection? Usually I ignore them, but every now and then a rejection comes with some very positive feedback...

Angela said...

Thanks Lady G!

Liana, I hear what you're saying. Sometimes positive rejections can bring about good feelings, not bad ones. Still, I think it needs to be weighed as to whether you want editors to know of your rejections. I think you have two options in this case. If you aren't posting each and every rejection that comes in, you could blog about the feedback angle of a good rejection, and how you appreciated the comments and how it lead you to an epiphany about your writing or gave you a boost that you're on the right track. Or, you could blog about virtually the same thing, but leave the rejection out of it and simply mention the feedback on your work that got you thinking about something you could strengthen or develop.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice over what to blog about regarding the writer's journey. It's more the rant/rave/whine aspect that can be dangerous to get into, especially if intimate details are leaking into the post. I think frequent posting of rejection can also have a negative affect, too.

There are other safe outlets for frustration--private emails to friends and critique partners, private messages on online writing forums, or membership-only forums where you have control over who may see your post (like at the Critique Circle).

PJ Hoover said...

I never blog about rejection. I never blogged about querying. I try to keep my blog presence completely away from this part of the process.
There is the negativity aspect. Plus, yes commiserating is cathartic, but it also keeps those negative feelings being hashed over and over. Not for me.

That said, I have a couple close friends I share my submission secrets with in a non-public forum. Because yes, moral support is really helpful.

courtney said...

Great advice.
(As usual!)

spamwarrior said...

This kind of stuff is what my private journal notebook is for :)

Rebecca said...

I've mentioned rejections on my blog before, but usually as general updates. Rejections are, after all, a part of my writing journey (and every writer's journey). I don't dwell on them, don't whine about them. Sometimes I celebrate them! Rejections can be disappointing and encouraging at the same time.

beth said...

AMEN.

Never talk about them.

Never.

Danyelle said...

Wonderful post, and so true. Once you hit enter, it's public. Commiserating can be a good thing, but that's what email and phone calls are for. Something in a more private setting.

Hazardgal said...

I really needed to read this post. Sometimes blogging is pure therapy for me and I admit that I've posted about rejections, mostly grant denials. They seem to be harder and harder to get. Publication denials I keep to myself. I agree that one's web face should not be pouty!

jessjordan said...

1) "DIE EDITOR DIE" = my first real laugh of the day.

2) "when you're out in public, make sure your pants are on" = my second.

Thank you :)

Merc said...

Excellent points. ;)

I keep my rejection commentary to private forums and email between people I trust. (I guess I also try not to post about acceptances for fear of jinxing it. :P)

But yes, while as a writer I can understand the frustration, I think you may sometimes do yourself more harm than the momentary releif of venting if you post too much about rejection.

Now, saying "Got another rejection today" (and moving on) and not specifying WHAT it was for or WHERE it came from or from WHO, I think is fine. Hey, we all get them, right? Everyone expects it. Agents and editors will not be surprised. As far as I can see, a general comment about getting rejections without specifics won't hurt if you do it in public. (Once in awhile. All the time and you may want to re-think that.) The key, imo, is to keep it generic and move on with your commentary. ;)

Great post.

~Merc

ddpattison said...

Never admit it. A motto to live by.

Darcy

gapyeargirl123 said...

This is one of the reasons that I love livejournal far more than blogger. Livejournal lets you choose to show your posts to certain people.
I think it's important to vent. When I start getting rejection letters, I will definitely blog about it. I expect I'll be sad. Not so much angry, but disappointed, and I think talking helps. However, I'll filter those posts so that only those people I really 'know' and feel I can trust will be able to see it.
Those people will be people who can sympathise, and offer encouragement, and I think those things are very important. I use that part of my blog like my support network - I trust those people, and I know I can talk about anything there. I know exactly who is reading those posts.

It's always interesting to read different views.

Mary Witzl said...

I agree with much of this. I would NEVER name names, and whining is just silly. When I first started submitting and getting rejections, I did whine and feel misunderstood. The more polished my writing has (I hope) become, the less inclined I am to complain about rejections and the more inclined I am to take another look at what I sent off, to see if it was really up to scratch.

In a way, mentioning one's rejections is a way of identifying with other members of the club, though. "See, I belong here -- I too have been rejected." When I first started writing, I was mortified to admit to rejection. Now, I'm very proud of my positive rejections. I feel a little like one of those guys who brags about almost having made it to Cambridge.

Mary Witzl said...

I agree with much of this. I would NEVER name names, and whining is just silly. When I first started submitting and getting rejections, I did whine and feel misunderstood. The more polished my writing has (I hope) become, the less inclined I am to complain about rejections and the more inclined I am to take another look at what I sent off, to see if it was really up to scratch.

In a way, mentioning one's rejections is a way of identifying with other members of the club, though. "See, I belong here -- I too have been rejected." When I first started writing, I was mortified to admit to rejection. Now, I'm very proud of my positive rejections. I feel a little like one of those guys who brags about almost having made it to Cambridge.

Debra E Marvin said...

Great reminder. Try googling your name if you're an unpub and chances are some of the things that come up are your comments on various blogs.
It feels like we're chatting with friends but we're also putting out thoughts and whatever mood we're in out there where things take a long time to fade away.

Angela said...

Wow, look at all these comments! Glad to see so many add their thoughts. Thanks, everyone--this is a great discussion. Debra, good point about reminding to google yourself once in a while--it's a good reminder that this could very well be the first thing an interested agent or editor might do, so what we see, so can everyone else.

Roy Buchanan said...

Great article, Angela, and good advice. The post from Lady Glamis ia also a good read.

I haven't blogged yet as I honestly don't feel I have anything worthwhile to say that others might want to read. Having said that, there might come a day, I hope, when blogging would be worthwhile.

Rejection hurts, but like others who have posted I feel voicing ones frustration should be kept to private forums or emails. It is part of the writing process and to voice opinions and frustrations about rejection on an open forum would be umprofessional and as suggested detrimental to the blogger.

Great care must be taken about what we post in any forum. Like personal dealings, coutesy, politeness and respect are good tools. As also suggested, using rejections as a tool for improvement is likely the best outlook to have.

Happy writing all.

Angela said...

Thanks Roy. Hugs!

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