Rejection is a normal part of life, but as humans, we tend to avoid it at all costs. If you’ve chosen to be an author, though, rejection is part of the journey. (Might as well rip off the band-aid first, right?)
Our instincts tell us that our very existence is threatened if we’re rejected, so we tend to spend a lot of time and energy building safeguards to ensure we’re accepted at all costs. But when you’re pursuing the author life, shielding yourself from being rejected is actually counterproductive.
Intellectually, we know that rejection is just part of being an author. But secretly, we think and hope that we can avoid it. We do this by creating extra likeable characters, a super watered-down plot, and steering clear of controversy.
The problem is, when we do this, rejection becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now, you’ve written a boring book, and it’s guaranteed to get rejection…all because you tried to avoid being rejected in the first place.
Cruel irony, huh? The good news is, you can turn rejection into something to celebrate, rather than something to avoid.
For an author, rejection comes in many forms–not just getting your manuscript turned down. Let’s look at a few examples, and how to flip them into positives.
The Dreaded Unsubscribe
Your latest newsletter just went out yesterday, and you’re checking the analytics to see how it did. Unfortunately, you notice that several of your readers unsubscribed. Your mind begins to race: Was it something I said? Why don’t they like me anymore? What did I do to drive them away?
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you struck a nerve with someone who, not long ago, signed up to receive updates from you. Maybe they’ve even bought and reviewed your books. Whatever the case, it stings when readers drop off your list.
Positive spin: Losing newsletter subscribers kinda hurts (like…a lot), but it means you’re actually doing a good job of targeting your ideal readers and filtering out folks who aren’t really “your people”. Rather than fretting over their departure, enjoy culling the list.
Getting a 1-Star Review
It’s devastating to get a 1-star review, period. Most readers attempt to leave better ratings for the author’s sake, even when they don’t particularly enjoy the book. …And then there are the few readers who leave scathing reviews that completely eviscerate your book.
Not gonna lie–reviews like this are never fun to receive. But there is a way to make them feel more positive.
Positive spin: Funny enough, terrible reviews can actually help to attract more attention to your book. They’re controversial and tactless–but they also serve to spark readers’ curiosity. They’ll want to know if your book is as terrible as the reviewer says it is. Allie and I have each read entire series just to see if they justified the complete vitriol spewed by the disgruntled readers who hated them. In the end, the bad reviews of one book can lead to multiple books sales.
A one-star review also means the reader wasn’t your audience, so that gives you a chance to ask some important questions, like:
- Who are you targeting, really?
- Does your book blurb reflect what’s really in the story?
- What were the readers’ expectations vs. what actually happened in the book?
- Is your book correctly categorized on Amazon, or are you capturing the wrong readers?
Some authors lean on three-star reviews to help them revise their next stories. A three-star review usually contains a mix of solid constructive and positive feedback that you can use to improve your future work.
Not Getting Your Conference Class Picked
Getting your conference class turned down is a tough blow. You’ve likely put a ton of work into creating your concept and materials, but you didn’t quite make the cut. It’s a little too easy to wallow in self-pity when things don’t go our way, but hear me out: you can flip this on its head.
Positive spin: Perhaps your class wasn’t quite the right fit for this event. Maybe you were really looking forward to teaching this class. Getting rejected from a specific conference isn’t the end! You can take the materials you’ve pulled together and create your own mini-course if you want–and maybe even make a little extra money in the process.
Getting Turned Down for a Blurb
Being an author means putting yourself out on a limb, over and over. This includes asking fellow authors for blurbs in your book. And when an author turns you down for a book blurb, this can feel like a slap in the face. I mean, you would write a blurb for them–so why won’t they do it for you?
Positive spin: Take a step back and think objectively about your book and who you pitched for blurbs. Is the author in question a writer in your genre? Do they have different brand values than you? Are the kinds of stories you write wildly different? Is their life simply too chaotic at the moment?
A book blurb is an author’s endorsement or stamp of approval on your book. They’re likely going to take their books and their audience into account before they agree to a blurb. On the flip side, consider the author you’ve reached out to–are they a good fit for your brand and readers? If not, skipping this particular endorsement actually works out for the best.
Getting Turned Down by a Coach
When you’re seeking a mentor, such as a coach, to help you build your author life, it can be disheartening to get rejected. A good coach will let you know if you’re not a good fit for one another. They don’t want to waste your time or theirs, and your wellbeing is in their best interest.
Still, hearing ‘no’ can hurt. So how do you ease the pain?
Positive spin: There are so many coaches out there, just waiting for the right people to help. If a coach you wanted to work with has decided you’re not a good fit, there’s someone else ready for you. Just take a deep breath and keep making connections–soon, you’ll find the perfect mentor who’s just right for you, your needs, and your goals.
So is rejection a thing to be avoided or something to celebrate? It’s really all in how you think about it.
Your mindset and attitude play a big part in how you handle rejection, too. Let’s look at three common mindsets and how to spin those:
- If you’re naturally arrogant, leave your assumptions at the door. Yes, rejection hurts, but there might be a good reason for it. Try to take an objective view of the situation instead, and see what comes up for you.
- If you’re naturally self-shaming, don’t assume you did terrible work and deserve this rejection. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, approach the situation with empathy and think about how you’d speak to a friend if they were in your shoes. This opens the door to real insights and solutions, rather than just folding in on yourself.
- If you’re naturally defensive, think before you react. Try not to immediately respond in anger and indignation. Give yourself time to process the rejection, and then evaluate the reasons why you or your work might not have made the cut this time.
Need help reframing rejection or understanding it with a new perspective? We’re here to help. Get in touch to schedule your chat today.