Beating the Rejection Blues

When you receive a rejection from a magazine editor, you may toss your query or article in the trash.

After all, if the editor didn’t like it, why bother?

You might be surprised that there is a second option, which is to turn that rejection into acceptance.

In today’s Tuesday Tip, I will help you beat the rejection blues by searching for the invitation in every rejection.

Let’s say that you receive a rejection from a magazine editor and it says something like this:

Dear writer,

Thank you for submitting your query titled, “How to Love Your Family Like Jesus.” Unfortunately, we recently published a similar article. While we loved your writing voice, we are unable to accept your article at this time.


Is this a rejection or an invitation?

It’s an invitation!

This market cannot publish two articles of a similar nature in their publication in the same year. However, the editor is letting you know that he or she loves your writing style and want to see more. If you had thrown this in the trash, you’d have missed the invitation! The invitation isn’t just to submit another query, but to do a market study of the magazine to ensure the next query will offer a fresh, new idea.


Let’s look at another.


Dear writer,

Thank you for submitting your article, “How to Plan a Romantic Staycation.” Unfortunately, we have to take a pass. While we loved the theme and believe our readers would be drawn to the idea, this article was more inspiration and less practical application. Please check our writing guidelines for additional tips on how to effectively target our reading audience.”


Is this an invitation or rejection?

It’s totally an invitation. Read the guidelines. Tweak the article to include practical application. Write a cover letter thanking the editor for his or her guidance, and resubmit.


Why doesn’t an editor extend the invitation more directly?

Due to an editor’s day-to-day assignments, they don’t have time to coddle each author.  An editor doesn’t have time to say, “I love how you put sentences together,” or “I wish you had spent a little more time reading a few back issues because you would have found a similar article.”

Editors scans hundreds of queries and complete manuscripts monthly. They are working on publishing the current issue, while editing upcoming issues, and gathering articles for future magazine issues.

When they offer encouragement in a rejection, it’s because they like something about your article or query. They may not have time to offer feedback for each query, but you are wise to look beyond the rejection to find the invitation within.


What if it really is a rejection?


Dear writer,

We received your short story titled, “Heart and Soul.” Our magazine does not publish fiction.


This is a total rejection. There is no invitation to resubmit, send a fresh query, or to learn more about the magazine.

Instead, the invitation is to do your homework. Purchase a current Writers Market Guide. Look for a market that is seeking short stories, and send it. If you don’t own a current market guide, add it to your writing library. We suggest the 2018 Christian Writers Market Guide.


Your Turn

In the comment section below, share a recent rejection you received with the COMPEL community.  Can you find the invitation within?


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  1. I learn from my rejections especially if they provide additional insight. Typically my experience is what one publication another one may accept with some minor tweaks. Worse case I publish on my blog, but I tweak change and grow.

  2. My most recent rejection was my submission to the Compel writing challenge. Here is part of the letter:

    “I’m writing today with some news that is bittersweet. The sweet part is your devotion made it past step one and two, into a small group of finalists. Our review team thought your title and opening paragraph were strong and intriguing and really enjoyed reading your devotion.

    However, we are sorry to say that the review team did not select your devotion to be published on Encouragement for Today.

    In spite of that, we wanted to let you know that this decision does not reflect the quality of your writing. Each devotion that made it to this final round was well written. Just not a good fit for our specific needs.

    We hope this encourages you to keep writing and submitting your work to other publications.”


    I guess the invitation within was to keep writing and submit somewhere else? lol

    While the letter was not just written specifically about *my* writing, it was a little comforting to see that it was implied that it was well-written, so that’s something positive 🙂

    Thanks 🙂

    • I have not received any feedback on this yet. I’m assuming when the contest is fully complete a generic letter will be sent out to all?

    • That’s the same letter I received. I’m choosing to ignore the voices in my head and to see it as an invitation to keep writing and submitting. 🙂