You've taken the plunge, dared to be brave, prepared for the worst and hoped for the best and sent out your baby as a submission to a publisher. But rather than the happy acceptance you hoped for, you've received the worst - and your work was rejected. Now what?
Congratulations! It isn't a tragedy, it's a rite of passage. We've all been there, done that, it's just a fact of life for a writer, and it happens. All writers will be rejected in their lifetime, that's simply a given. No need to feel as if the end of the world has arrived, cause it hasn't. No need for doom and gloom and tears, etc.
What is the proper response, you ask? Why, get back up on that horse and ride again! Metaphorically speaking, of course. The literary world is littered with tales of famous writers who were rejected multiple times before receiving the acceptance and publication they dreamed of. Don't be discouraged - you're in good company!
So, what do you do now?
You might take a break, recharge those psychic batteries a bit, in preparation for further battle. Don't kid yourself, it's a battle to be published, and the battle is not getting easier with the advent of e-publishing. True, there are more opportunities to be published, but there are also that many more people who think they can write and are fighting for the limited room to be had. I'll save the rant about those people for another time, let's concentrate on you, the rejected writer.
Before you submitted, did you take a good look at the publisher? I think the main cause of rejection lies in the writer's not doing that and submitting to a market that his story was never going to be right for, no matter who wrote it. Not everything will fit everywhere, no matter how much you want it to. So rather than trying to force that square peg into that round hole, look at what the publisher has done, see what sort of material they publish. Read the guidelines carefully, they're there for a reason! Take them seriously. A publisher who says they don't accept menage, for example, is not going to look nicely on your m/m/f story no matter how you dress it. One who asks for no explicitness isn't going to want your steamy cock-laden romance story, no matter how wonderful it is.
Were you really prepared to send in this piece? Did you have anyone else read it? A beta and a crit partner are invaluable things. One or both, if you can manage it. Your friends are all well and good but seriously, they're more likely to tell you how much they liked it, which isn't what you're looking for. Also, spell check is an invaluable tool, and grammar check. Use them a lot. Don't be afraid to accept criticism, it helps you grow as a writer.
If you have friends that are writers, ask them for suggestions, that is often a good way to find publishers. Those on the inside are more likely to know what a publisher will like or not like. Not that that's a guarantee, but any inside information can't hurt, right? Look for open calls for submissions, see what you have that fits. Sometimes exposure is worth more than mere monetary value, as anthologies don't tend to pay well.
Most of all, don't be afraid to try again with another publisher. And don't be afraid to fail again. Don't look at it as a step back, but rather a step forward. You've eliminated a publisher who isn't interested, now concentrate on the rest and fine tune your search.
Rejection isn't the end of the world, unless you make it that way. So set your mind to success, learn from this failure and move forward! You'll be glad you did. Sometimes a rejection is better than an acceptance, and sometimes an acceptance is made to be rejected!
Have any of you later found out you were happy that a publisher rejected you? How do you all deal with rejection? I'd love to hear what you have to say!