3 Tips for Dealing with “Declines”

Posted by on Oct 16, 2013 in Writer Tips & Tools | 2 comments

Next-timeMy friend and colleague, the funny and talented Claudia Mills, uses the word “decline” instead of the dreaded “R” word – “rejection.” Both my former and current agents use the word “pass” as in “They passed on it.”

Both “decline” and “pass” are softer, more palatable words and describe exactly what occurred–the published declined or passed on the manuscript. “Rejection” can imply “I don’t want it.” The fact is, someone there may have loved it, but for a multitude of reasons, the publishing house as a whole couldn’t take it on.

Here are ways I deal with the “decline”:

  1. STAY EXCITED. I’m ALWAYS working on something I’m excited or passionate about or that makes me feel good and happy to be alive. Most of the time this is another manuscript, every so often it’s something outside my writing world, like doing something else creative (like the BURRITO stop-motion video I talked about last week), helping a friend, etc.
  2. POSITIVE SELF-TALK. I work to detach myself from the decline, reminding myself that knowing where it doesn’t belong can be just as important as knowing where it does. When I feel confident about a manuscript (as opposed to wishing or hoping it will get accepted), I can move fairly quickly to “That wasn’t the place for it and I can’t wait to find out where it lands!”
  3. COMMISERATING WITH MY PEEPS. If neither of the above is working, I go out to my writer friends, who will, without fail, remind me of (a) how good the manuscript is, (b) how crazy that publisher was to turn it down and (c) they are confident it will find a home. That is usually enough to get me to #2, which leads me back to #1.

What strategies do you use to handle a pass on your manuscript? Food? Drink? Darts? Share!

Hey there!


  1. If it’s personal to my manuscript, I evaluate what the agent is saying. I’ve taken a month or two to revise some manuscripts after recent re … er, I mean declines. :)

    • Excellent! First of all, getting personal feedback is HUGE, and means they saw something there or they wouldn’t have taken the time to make comments so congrats on that. And good for you for reviewing it, seeing what resonated, and making some changes.

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