A Different Kind of Rejection

As a writer, we all have to face many rejections in the process of trying to become published and it can be difficult, depressing, and leave us doubting ourselves. But it's all a part of the process for developing thick skin and ultimately, sticking to our guns, believing in ourselves, and hopefully published.

I was asked by someone the other day, how do I handle rejection from family and friends? How did I handle it when a close family member doesn't show interest or even request a copy of my book?

My answer was... I cry... a lot... it hurts... but it doesn't stop me from getting back into the game.

I think probably every writer has or will experience rejection from a loved one, but WHY is my question. However, I have no answer for that.

Sure, not everyone in our families is expected to love what we write, but shouldn't they at least try?

In my experience, I think some people don't take writing for children seriously. Especially us picture book writer's. And I do understand how people who know nothing about it, would feel that way. But that's no excuse for close family or dear friend's to reject our work.

We are writer's, we have feelings, and we work really hard and passionately at our craft. It's bad enough that we have to deal with all the rejection, waiting, rudeness, and being ignored from some submission editors... but shouldn't we at least be treated with respect from those close to us?

We also shouldn't have to endure rejection from other writer's. We all need to be there for each other, whether or not we've published one book, twenty, or none.

I know that I try the best way I can to support other writer's. It doesn't mean I can buy everyone's book, but there are other ways of support for instance: sharing Facebook posts concerning other writer's books; commenting on other writer's blogs; or conducting author interview's on our blogs.

I for one am going to try to do better this year with supporting my fellow writer's and I challenge the rest of you to do the same. Let's share the love!


  1. Great post. Sometimes I think it's just as well family members don't "love" our work, especially if they are loving it just for the sake of it. I've learnt to pretty much ignore what family members think, and go more with comments from others. A critique from a writing friend is generally more helpful than one from a family member. Just my HO.

    1. I see your point, Terrie. I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, bad or good, even a family member. It's when they don't even bother to READ the stuff or have any desire to, that bothers me. However, if it's a man... I don't expect them to care. Boy is that unfair!! Men get out of so many emotional things!! Sigh

    2. I think what makes the lack of interest or rejection from family members that much easier for me is the notion that they are generally considered unhelpful critiques of our work. I just work on a policy of if he/she doesn't like it or won't read it so what. As long as other people that read the story like it, that's what matters.

    3. First Allyn, I'm a MAN, and I DO CARE! (Sorry if I sound mad, I'm not, but that point had to be made as I'm very sensitive to gender bias)

      That said, my immediate family mostly reads news and scripture, so I've had to build my network from scratch since I was 16.

      I'm grateful to my e-network, but sometimes I wish I had people offline to share successes and gripes with.

      Second, you're right it's tough to deal with lack of support from your offline channels.

      For me, it's getting my closest relatives to realize that this career takes A LOT of investment and time. Not that they're cruel or ignorant about it. It's just one of those "You don't fully get it until you're doing it yourself" kind of thing.

      It's why I'm VERY CAREFUL when I address the parents and/or teachers in my support network as I'm neither a parent or teacher and don't ever wish to belittle or make light of things I don't have experience with from the parental perspective.

      Despite all the who tell me you don't have to be a parent or teacher to write solid books for kids or teens, there are things I just can't know as a non-parent, or a teacher who sees kids on a daily basis, but my personal experience being raised in a "Fend for oneself" family lends itself to knowing some things that I'd hate to see tear families outside my own apart for being insensitive to kids and teens (And Under 30 Adults) that are constantly marginalized with little support, BEYOND their emergent writer careers.

      This is why I have mixed feelings about non-writer feedback. Many writers feel all feedback can help a writer (Provided it's constructive and based in some)

      I don't want to be unjustly biased, because I personally have had feedback from writers who don't write what I do but made points I needed to consider, but feedback from other writers need to be understanding as much as honest.

      As Terrie Hope (A mutual acquaintance of ours) has helped me learn "You can express the negative without being negative." As esoteric fortune cookie babble as this sounds, it's true.

      I'm sorry if you were devalued by family as you describe. Hang in there.

    4. Taurean,

      I guess I should have clarified the "man" comment. I was really talking about the men in my family. Most of them never even pick up a book, let alone a children's book. Sorry if I offended you.

      And I really wasn't saying I expect my family and friends to understand everything it takes to write a book, I was only saying I don't understand why some of them aren't even interested in looking at a book I wrote.

      Anyway, it's interesting to hear everyones perspectives on this subject! Thanks for giving yours.

    5. I figured you meant the men in your family, Allyn, I just felt I needed to speak broadly to that.

      Excluding you, it does feel male stereotypes are harder to invert than female, in books and in life, especially in this country.

      That said, I used to be a non-reader so I can understand that perspective, too.

      For me, though, it was a lack of finding books that spoke to me personally until I was 14-16, rather than a technical barrier, which is often why many kids (Boys OR Girls) aren't into reading for pleasure, you know?

      Not to sound sexist, I'm so not, but I do wish there were more men in the fray who wrote more varied male characters beyond the basic archetypes we see over and over.

      As much as some women authors still feel there's still male-favoritism in some areas, I sometimes that makes some women have warped views of boys and men in general, in the SAME ways men were conditioned to believe about girls and women. Can you say, EXCESSIVE POETIC JUSTICE MUCH?!

      Just because the men in your family or marital life were jerks, don't all men to the same standard if we've done nothing to warrant it. Period. (Again, I'm speaking generally, not to you, Allyn!)

      Three of of the four National Ambassadors for Young People's literature are women, and nearly all the major literary prizes in Europe went to women last year, and that's great, but I do get frustrated when SOME (Not all!) women authors use their feminist views as weapon to "deamonize" men, like they NEVER stopped to think that perhaps some men may NOT agree with the chauvinistic views their fighting against.

      I was also thinking of Beyonce's sharp remarks regarding gender inequality earlier this week and reading this post kind of brought it back to mind.

      Yes, women are still oppressed in the world and we have more work to do, but when you consider where we were just 50 years ago in the U.S. and Europe and to some extent Asia, things are getting BETTER, I just don't want people to forget that while we continue to fight the issues worth fighting. That's all.

    6. Thanks for your comment, Taurean!

  2. So far, I've never had to deal with rejection from a family member, but I have a son who used to write screenplays, a daughter who is a published author for adults, and a granddaughter who presently writes TV screenplays. What hurts most is rejection from other authors, by just ignoring me. I don't write in their genres, so I don't need their attention. I'm finding this from the authors forum I'm on, with my publisher. Most of the authors there write romance, sci-fi, and adult fantasy, so an MG/YA writer like me apparently doesn't count for much. This is rude but also hurtful. I try to support them in their efforts, but find little or none in return. I guess they must think it takes "nothing" to write for kids 10-16, so why bother...wish they would try their hand at this genre of writing, and see just how much they DON'T know about writing! LOL

  3. I think a lot of people look at writing for children as easy and us writers must not have any skills to be able to write for kids. However, that just means they haven't tried or done their research. I think writing ANYTHING well enough to get published is hard and I admire anyone who writes any genre. But we can't all see things the same. Guess that's what makes the world interesting.... and frustrating at the same time!

    1. That said, Allyn, I've encountered many children's authors just as ignorant about writing "Adult" novels because they feel so strongly that writing for kids and teens is FAR superior to writing ANYTHING for adults beyond nonfiction or exceptional fiction which is so subjective to begin with.

      They find adult fiction in general indulgent nonsense with no interest from the harried reader who lords brevity and has the infamous "Short Attention Span."

      (With possible exception to Jane Austen, John Updike and Dickens among other "Classics")

      But that strikes me as highly pompous and ignorant!

      What's the point of getting kids and teens hooked on books if they grow up and books about their adult experience is duller than what they read in childhood? I love reading and writing children's books, but I still need stories about people in MY AGE BRACKET, TOO! Period.

      Besides, there are some things both as a reader and writer myself (No longer a child) I HAVE to understand, that the average kid or teen doesn't, that's NOT the same as condescending to kids or teens like they could NEVER understand.

      Part of the reason I struggle with writing about parents or families in general is because while I'm not yet a parent I can empathize with parents in stories in ways I couldn't as a kid, and that nuance is something we as a children's authors sometimes overlook, not out of authorial ignorance or self-indulgent wish fulfillment, but when we try so hard to empower the kids in our stories to solve their own problems, we over-villainize all the adults to make kids shine.

      That said, we are starting see more YA tackling this directly, but below YA, I think sometimes in all the "Literary Chest Beating" about not letting adults (Parent or otherwise) take over the story, we forget to make them more human just to empower our kids.

      But there are ways to include parents who aren't abusive and matter to the story without "Playing the Savior" for their child.

      On my part, I've never been ignorant about how hard it really is. This is why I always say I started as a novelist, because I don't take
      That doesn't mean I value brevity and simplicity less than my writer friends who are FAR MORE savvy with brevity than I am, that doesn't mean I write novels because it's excuse to be "Long" or because they "Sell Better" when they're good...

      But because I love novels and I can say what I want to say without being constrained not just in length, but in vocabulary and sentence structure, and I do believe some authors ease into that level of brevity and simplicity picture books and early readers demand quicker, no matter how much they had to revise and rewrite.

      You don't have to be a naive beginner to feel that way. Period.

      I'd love to know what the children's authors have to say in answer to that question!

  4. I'm sorry for ANY rejection a writer must face. My family doesn't take particular interest in my writing (they never have). Now, that doesn't mean they discourage me--they have always supported me. But that doesn't mean they have bought or read my books. They haven't. It doesn't really bother me, not sure why. It's just how it's always been.

    I love the support from other writers!

    1. Katie,

      I'm sorry your family doesn't take much interest in your books, I don't get it and never will. But I'm proud of you for not letting it get you down!

  5. Some of my family & friends also don't take too much interest in my work because it's not really their thing. I understand that and perhaps haven't expected much anyway. So when a friend told me she would buy and read Brightness Sailors last week, I was very surprised and grateful. (When I first started out, it was very hurtful to think my work meant nothing to my family, especially my parents, because of their lack of response. Seriously, not even an 'oh ~' And things got ugly. I got ugly. I didn't like that at all. So now, I embrace a more Zen-like state ~ those who like my works will like them, family or strangers. No pressure.) Sorry you have to face this rejection, Allyn. That Live Happy poster really said it for me on my bad days. :)

    1. Well luckily most of my family has been really great about supporting me with my writing and I do feel good about that. I love your new approach to taking a Zen-like state. I do try to not get upset when a close family member doesn't take interest, but deep down it does hurt.

  6. I love the pix of the editor with the rejection behind him. It puts a face, not a nice one by any means but a face, on that rejection letter. And, you are so right. It does hurt when family members don't give your books a try. But then I 'd rather see a child curld up with my book in hand than a thousand relatives with a copy. That pix would make all the rejections worth it.

    1. Wow, Sherry, you just made an excellent point! I too would rather see a child curled up reading and enjoying my book than any adult relative. Thanks for that. I'm going to try hard to remember that one!

  7. You nailed it this week, Allyn. I loved this post. You are right. We have people in our lives that we expect will support us and our struggles, and then when they don' kills us inside. But with that close rejection we get stronger. We work harder and we will prevail with or without their help. It would be nice though.

    1. Perfect analysis, Courtney! Thanks for your comment.