Rejection is not something anyone likes to deal with but as an illustrator/writer surviving it is a necessary skill. After all the only way to avoid Rejection is to take yourself out of the game and that is not an option unless you're retiring or changing careers. Here are a few tips in random order. If you are an illustrator or writer please feel free to comment on how you have dealt with rejection. Let's learn from each other.
I've discovered that Submitting while agented is a different game. First, I have to run my book ideas through my agent before it even reaches the submittable stage. The idea is so I'm not wasting time working on an unmarketable project. Most of my ideas do not get the green light. Which is fine. A picture book dummy can take me 2+ months to create and I'd rather spend it on something that has a chance in a super competitive market. And my graphic novel? Well... So far my concept and full synopsis has past my Agent's scrutiny and I'm still working on the full script.
When my picture book dummy went out on submission, my agent sent it out in batches of about 8 or so publishing houses at time. The other BIG difference is she got responses and feedback, even if it was just a short note to most of her submissions! Me, pre-agent mainly got crickets. However when you and your Agent decide to shelve a project. It is still a sad thing. YES, there is still lots of rejection even with an agent.
1 - CREATE Something NEW - even better fall in love with your new project. Keeps your mind on something positive and moving forward.
2. Be A Prolific Creative. This is much, much easier said then done.
3. Focus on what you can control. Unfortunately you can't make them acquire it. Focus on what you can control; your creativity, your craft, your productivity.
4. It's Not Personal. When they say the style doesn't suit their needs at the moment. Or they are moving in a different direction. They didn't say you are a terrible person. They just were not into your work. It's subjective. See number 1. Always have a few projects running.
5. Wallow in the Rejection. When all else fails OD on the chocolates and hide under the blankets just set a time limit -an hour, a day or even 2. Allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself and your project, even shed a few tears - you're human - just remember to get back on track, ASAP.
6. Let things cool off. Perhaps put it aside to revise when the dust has settled. In the meanwhile work on something else.
7. Work on your craft. One day, you may be pleasantly horrified by some of your earlier rejected projects and agree with the editors/art directors.
8. Diversify. Learn new things. Keeps life interesting. Your writing may be selling at the moment but your illustration may not, but at least something is getting a positive response.
9. Research adjacent markets that use your skills and strengths. May be your kid lit art might look great on a greeting card or puzzle or hangin in a a kid's room or kitchen or... try your hand at Surface Design. This also allows you
to submit to different markets.
10. Adapt. There maybe nothing wrong with your project. It could be something you can't help like the economy or the market. Be willing to repurpose your art. So the picture book market is down maybe adapt the story for an early reader or chapter book Or try working on art for an older market. OR maybe that piece of finished spec art that was rejected for the XYZ book cover would make a great puzzle or wall art or greeting card. Don't define your art too narrowly.
11. Don't call it a Rejection. I find saying they Passed on my project sounds a lot less harsh then they rejected it.
12. Find your TRIBE. It is super helpful to have at least one other person that understands. It's even better if you find a whole bunch of people to commiserate with when you're down and cheer you on when things go well. This is one of the true benefits of social media.
It should also be noted that in this day and age where many companies are no longer responding to submissions unless they are interested, a rejection at least is a concrete response. I personally find the lack of response more unnerving than a definite yay or nay. I also find submitting things through submittable and jot forms a good thing as you usually get a confirmation that your submission was successful so you know it wasn't lost in the internet ether.
I had originally planned to repost a post for THROWBACK THURSDAY. However when I reviewed the original post I realized that a lot had changed and things that worked then no longer worked for me now. You can read the original here, REJECTION! A Few Antidotes was posted on 10/15/2010.