Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Beyond Submission REJECTION by Diana Ting Delosh

Unfortunately, rejection is a part of an illustrator/writer's life. If you're creating and submitting your work, you're going to face it at some point. Even when you know it's professional and not personal, it may still sting. The only way around it, is to not submit ever. Chicken. As a veteran of the submission game, here are a few of my strategies to lessen the sting in random order.
Summer Raccoon Girl © Diana Ting Delosh
Ink & Watercolor.
1 - Submit. Yup, sounds counterintuitive but this actually works. It doesn't have to be the same project - just submit something, ASAP. Every one of your submissions represents hope. If you have a lot of submissions out it's more likely that something will come back accepted. Don't put all your dreams into one project submitted to only one company.

2 - Work on a new idea - even better fall in love with your new project. Keep your mind focused on something positive and moving forward.

3. Focus on the process not the result.  Right now I'm challenging myself to submit something 4 times/month. It can be an art sample pack, promo postcards, website url, a Picture book dummy /manuscript proposal, whatever. The question, "Who am I submitting to and what" keeps me moving and the checking off  - "Yay, I did it" helps give me a mental boost.  It also makes me realize that I need to create more things. A challenge to try is: Submit 10 different things to 10 different places in 10 weeks. The closest I've ever come to meeting this challenge is 5 different things submitted to 10 different places in 10 weeks.

4. There's safety in numbers.  Nowadays most publishers accept multiple submissions, as long as you let them know. Research whom you think is a good fit for your project and submit. I do it in small batches in the hopes I won't hear NO from everyone on the same day. Now that could be depressing.

5.  Accept it when they say it doesn't suit their needs or they have too many hibernation stories at the moment. It's them not your project. Move on. Someone else may love it.

6. Wallow. When all else fails OD on the chocolates and hide under the blankets just set a limit. 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.

7. Learn from your mistakes. Take a cold hard look at your project. Is there room for improvement?  Revise, edit as needed and send it to others.

8. Work on your craft. One day, you may be pleasantly horrified by some of your earlier projects and relieved that they were rejected.

9. Diversify. Learn new things. Your writing may be selling at the moment but your illustration may not, but at least something is getting a positive response. This also allows you to submit to different markets, maybe even discover a new source of income.

10. Adapt. There may be 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 something entirely new.

11. Try Semantics, for some reason, "they passed on my project," sounds a lot kinder to me than "they rejected my project." I keep a submission log and I find PASSED looks a lot nicer on paper then REJECTED.

12.  Celebrate the different levels of rejection. Give yourself a pat on the back if you get a personal letter from the editor vs the standard form rejection... or nothing. It should also be noted that in this day and age where most companies only respond when interested, a rejection is a concrete response. Thankfully, when E-submitting, some companies have an auto-reply so at least you know they received it.

FYI: This is an updated version of a post I originally published 10/15/10 on my Art blog. Hey it's summer. Here's the original post, if you're curious:  The Hare Illustrat√®re: REJECTION! - A few Antidotes

Twitter: dtdelosh

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  1. I'm thinking one more -- friends! Nice to know there are art friends around to share with and maybe get a hug . . .

  2. Good one! Definitely should be on the list.

  3. I really resonate with this post Diana. When my son was little, I was rejected from an art show, and he noticed I was a bit down. He asked about it, and I said I was not juried into a show I really wanted to be included in. He was only 5-6, sitting in the backseat, thinking about what I said. Finally, his small voice piped up, "Rejection. What's that like, mom?" He truly had no idea. It was funny, but I knew he'd experience it in time... though he already had earned three ribbons at the local fair three years in a row! I did tell him that I always allow myself one day to be sad. Then I move on.

  4. Great list. I particularly need to focus on #3, and push myself to submit more. Thanks for sharing this, again.