like hate me. You really like hate me!”
No writer wants to get their work rejected, but probably it has happened to you, and it will happen to you in the future. If you get your work rejected, it may not mean that your writing isn't any good, it could just be that that particular publisher didn't like your work, and that the next could love it.
Dealing with rejection is good for your character. I read somewhere about a writer who would take each rejection letter and use it to wallpaper their office; to them, each was a badge of honour.
The first thing to do upon getting a rejection letter or email is to take a deep breath and leave it for a day or so, then approach it with calm thoughts. Most of the time the publisher will say something like:
On this occasion I am afraid I cannot take the opportunity of publishing your work, but I encourage you to keep writing.
Publishers don't usually give a rejected writer a critique of their work; they just don't have the time to do so. Of course, a response like this doesn't really give the writer any idea of how to improve, so if you like you can get back to the publisher, just pick your time. If the publisher is close to a deadline, you are better to wait until after the magazine is out before approaching them.
Do not be rude or sarcastic to them, no matter how tempting this is! Publishers talk to each other, and pass on stories of rude and over demanding writers.
Two years ago I had to reject 1/3 of the submissions for my short story magazine simply because I received more than usual. My rejection email said something like:
You might take heart in knowing that I received 60 stories and could only accept 25.
One writer wrote back to me 5 minutes after his rejection email just to tell me to:
Get f***ed, Matthew...
Needless to say, I had spent days reading stories, it was 2 in the morning when I finished my email correspondence, so this email didn't quite make my day. Of course, I forwarded this email to every publisher I know... They all had a laugh, but the bottom line is that writer will never be published by me.
If you can, give them a call on the phone. Tell them thanks for the email, and that you enjoy reading their magazine (even if you don't really). Ask them if they can give you an insight on why your piece wasn't accepted. Listen to what they say, take notes maybe. If they are terse, thank them, wait for them to hang up before you do. If they give constructive advice, ask them if you can submit again for their next issue.
If they say 'no', thank them and learn to live with it. It's only writing after all.
– Mathew Glenn Ward