The Dejection of Rejection

Last month, after a mere 270 days of editing, I submitted my first-ever piece of literature for publication to Highlights Magazine. 

On Saturday, I received my first-ever rejection letter from Highlights Magazine. 

I’ve come full circle. 

The Editors tried to soften the blow with a form letter telling me that I was “competing with hundreds of other authors” when I sent in my manuscript. 

I was not comforted by this information.  I wanted to be the CHOSEN one.  I wanted Ed McMahon to show up at my door with balloons, an over-sized check, a limo, and a magnum of champagne. 


My husband tried to bolster my spirits, noting that my form letter didn’t indicate that my story lacked focus or had weak characters.  And yes, it helped a bit.  I know it wasn’t realistic to think I’d be published on my first submission, but a teeny part of me desperately hoped it would be so.

So, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board for me.  I am going to send the piece out to a few other children’s magazines and see how it goes.  I have another story idea on tap and will settle down to write it after we return from our summer road trip at the end of July.  Wish me luck!

30 responses to “The Dejection of Rejection

  1. I agree with your husband – looking at that list of reasons for rejection it seems as though your manuscript must be quite good.

    Keep trying – I’m sure you’ll get there in the end.

  2. I’m with husband and Jackie, but of course a rejection slip never feels good.

    That said, huzzah to you for even trying! And save that rejection for when you’re rich and famous, so you can look back on your humble origins and laugh like a maniac 🙂

  3. The list of the reasons on the form letter should help you better place your work. Be sure to examine some last issues from each magazine you are submitting to–that will help determine if your story suits their readership, the editors’ tastes, and the current trends in the market.

    I wish you luck with your submissions, and take each rejection with a grain of salt. You’ll get there. James Patterson was rejected more than 26 times, and some authors have received more than 100.

    Chin up.

  4. If Ed McMahon shows up at your door, I’d lock it an run away.
    He’s probably a zombie and wants your large useful brainnnnnssssssss.

  5. Hey, at least you’re putting yourself out there! I’ve yet to send anything I’ve written anywhere so I give you a lot of credit for giving it a go. Keep sending stuff and I’m sure you will get that acceptance letter one day soon! 🙂

  6. One rejection doesn’t make a failure! Keep trying – this is just a temporary setback. Even the mega blockbuster that is Twilight got rejected from a bunch of publishers back in the day…

  7. If you read any book about writing by authors, I think you’ll find that rejection is the norm!! All the greatest authors start out getting rejected over and over! And your husband is right … it just isn’t good for them right now … it isn’t your story! Keep trying!

  8. Don’t give up! Look at all the successful writers who had hundreds of rejection letters before their stories were chosen.

  9. I’ve never seen a rejection letter like that one. I sort of like it. Of all the reasons on there, the “not suited” one is the most neutral. I’d say that something!

    Keep at it. When I attended the Festival of Books in April, many of the authors said that they were rejected over 100 times before they managed to get something published. They also said that persistence wins out.

  10. Maybe your story would be better suited for another magazine. I know rejection hurts, but don’t let it get you down. Don’t give up!

  11. I agree with Jackie and your husband. The reason they gave is definitely their catchall category for vague rejection; all* of the others are specific or based on technical critiques. Seems like a good indication that the story has potential to be published somewhere.

    *I can’t figure out what the reason below the checked one (beginning with “We do not publish material that encou[rages]…”) is, although it seems to be of the specific variety.

  12. Good luck! Keep believing and it’ll soon become reality!

  13. I think the great thing is that you have submitted something. So they didn’t choose to publish it – that’s their bad luck – at least you are out there having a go which is the main thing in my book. Good luck for your next submission!

  14. Rejection is difficult, no matter what the circumstances. I hope you will persevere.

  15. aw, I’m sorry to hear about that! But you really do have a great attitude about it – keep at it, it will happen for you eventually. 🙂

  16. Luck to you! And take a lot of heart that they didn’t check one of the harsh options. Your story is too good for them.


  17. I think you’re a CHOSEN ONE because you actually wrote your story and submitted it. I am so proud of you for doing that. Still, I know that it must hurt to receive a letter like that. If I had a magazine I would publish you. 🙂

  18. Save that letter. When you’re a super famous author you can inspire others with the “I was rejected [insert number ] times!” speech.

    Honestly though, your husband is right, especially considering it states that it doesn’t suit their present needs…which means it could later on. Don’t get down on yourself. Submit elsewhere and keep writing.

  19. I agree – kudos to you for submitting your story and congratulations on getting the most neutral reason for your story not being accepted. Given the style of their “thanks, but no thanks” letter, you know that they would have told you if the rejection was the result of poor quality, writing style or content.

    Shoulders back, head up, onward and upward. If you never received a rejection letter, who would you taunt when you made it big as a writer? Just hold on to the fact that one day, they will be sorry that they overlooked your obvious abilities. 🙂

  20. I have no doubt in the power of your persistence and talent. Keep sending those stories out there!

  21. If you’re getting rejected, it’s because you’re trying…more power to you!

  22. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

  23. I hate to be all dismissive of your pain and stuff but seriously, it’s “Highlights”. You were too good for them! Your story was probably SO AWESOME that they HAD to reject it because then the rest of the magazine would look like CRAP.

    Honestly, I completely understand why they did that.


  24. I agree with your husband–some of those reasons would really hurt! There are a lot of other childrens magazines; you should submit the piece to other places. Kudos to you for having the courage to put yourself out there!

  25. Don’t worry — there are so many of us adrift in a sea of query rejection, it’s ridiculous. I’ve stopped querying a few of my novels right now while I regroup from the last batch of painful e-mails and figure out how to make my book, um, suck less, apparently! 🙂

    Good luck 🙂 We’ll get there eventually — and then I’ll say, “Hey, I read her blog back when!” 🙂

  26. Keep your spirits up, Natalie! Bestselling authors of today were the rejection-letter receivers of yesterday. Remember that. And don’t give up! I am rooting for you!

  27. Try, try again 🙂

    Think how weird it would have been if Ed McMahon HAD shown up!! spoooooky

    #1 You created something (out of nothing)
    #2 You had the guts to send it out for submission.
    #3 You’re rejection letter was not a scathing critique.
    Every published writer has enough at least enough rejections to paper their bathrooms – so, you’re on your way!

    Keep at it!

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