Day Fifteen: Grow a Thick Skin

Sample Agent Rejection Letter

I’m going to tell you something now that I think it’s very important for you to know. Like deep down, bone-level know. Here goes: There is so much rejection in publishing.

Seriously, it has to be the most rejection-filled profession on the planet. The only way to survive is to be tough. The only way to be tough is to realize that agents and publishers aren’t actually out to get you.

I’ve included a sample agent rejection letter below, because I want you to see that it’s not as scary as it sounds.

Even when a writer is successful (even highly successful), they face piles of rejection. It’s just a fact of the business.

Here’s an example:

When I signed on with my first agent, I had four offers. That means four agents told me that they wanted to represent my work. FOUR. That’s huge. It’s amazing. It felt so good.

But, I sent out 140 query letters.

That means that I was rejected by 136 agents. I was getting rejection letters from agents after my book had sold to Penguin.

Sample Agent Rejection Letter

I want you to see that they don’t tear you apart. Generally, they’re not personal at all. Here’s a sample agent rejection letter–one that showed up in my inbox yesterday.

Dear Author,

Thank you for your query. Although your project isn’t right for my list at this time, I appreciated the chance to consider it and wish you the best in your writing and publishing journey.



This is otherwise known as a Dear Author Letter or a form rejection. I’d like you to notice that the fact that I have previously published books did not insulate me from generic rejection.

I’m only just starting to move into the indie publishing world, so I don’t know for sure, but I feel like there’s probably some less rejection involved when you’re not trying to hire an agent and sell a novel to a publisher. But there are still going to be critics who don’t like what you wrote. (Just go look at the 1 star reviews of To Kill a Mockingbird or any Harry Potter book. You’ll see.) There will always be readers who just don’t want to read your work, or who don’t feel it if they do crack the cover.

That’s just the way this world rolls.

I’d like you to think about this: Rejection is proof that you’ve been in the fight. YOU put your work out there. YOU were brave. YOU didn’t hide behind your right to keep your words inside yourself.

Rejection is proof that you are a Ninja.

Here’s Stephen King on this subject:

Stephen King collected Sample Agent Rejection Letters.

We get them in our email inboxes. I was going to assign you the task of driving a nail into your wall to hang your rejections on, but the times have changed since Stephen King was fourteen. Our rejection is digital. So here’s what I want you to do today: make an email tag and title it REJECTION.

Filling that sucker up means that you’re doing it right.


Make a REJECTION label in your email inbox today. Then make a commitment to start doing the thing that will fill it up. (Hint: that’s putting your work out there.) Build up your own version of Stephen King’s collection of rejection letters. If you use Gmail, you do that by going to the sidebar all the way to the left and scrolling to the bottom. Click on “Create New Label.”

Come on over to Facebook and share your thoughts on rejection today. Let’s work on toughening our hides together.


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