Friday, June 19, 2020

No More Writing Rejections

by Crystal Bowman

I have been writing for more than twenty-five years, and since I write mostly for children, I’ve been able to write more than 100 books. If I were writing novels, that number would be closer to zero. Like all writers, I’ve received my share of rejections, but I don’t get them anymore and I’ll tell you why.  

I don’t like the word “rejection.” Whether it pertains to a relationship, a hopeful job interview, or a manuscript, it’s just not a nice word. So I don’t use it anymore. Instead, I have replaced it with the word redirection. 

When a submitted manuscript doesn’t result in a contract, it isn’t necessarily because the manuscript was poorly written. Many times, a publisher turns down a manuscript because it isn’t a good fit for their company. Publishing companies have production goals and specialize in certain genres, so wise writers will do their homework and submit to a publisher that’s a good match. This will increase the chances of receiving a contract.

I recently submitted a board book proposal to a publishing house that I thought was a good fit. It was such a good fit that they had just offered a contract for a similar book to another writer. They loved my story and said to send proposals anytime, but they would not publish this one. Since I did not receive a contract from them, my agent submitted it to another publisher, and I received a contract. My proposal was not rejected, it was redirected.

In my early days of writing, I wrote a picture book manuscript about animals preparing for winter. Even though I received positive feedback from several publishers, it ended up in my “not yet published” file for years. When I started writing for Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, I revisited the story and sent it to the editor. They published it on a two-page spread with adorable illustrations and interactive questions. The payment was less than I would have received from a book contract, but they have nearly 50,000 subscribers. Many picture books sell fewer than 2 or 3 thousand, and it was more important to me (and my résumé) to reach a larger audience.   

When I teach at writers’ conferences, I caution novice writers against sending in a manuscript before it’s ready to submit. Here are a few simple tips:
  • Take an online class, attend a workshop, or read a book on how to format your manuscript and write a professional proposal. 
  • Have your work professionally edited. 
  • Study the publisher’s submission guidelines and follow them exactly.
  • Have a clear explanation of why your book meets a need in the market. 
As most writers know, writing for publication in not for the faint of heart. You need the skin of a rhinoceros and the determination of a salmon swimming upstream. Even bestselling authors have their work redirected, so if you receive a “no thank you” from a publisher, don’t be discouraged, just follow the 4 Ps: persistence, patience, positive attitude, and prayer.  

My next picture book will release this October. It’s based on a true story about a grandma who develops dementia. I love You to the Stars—When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembers, was redirected seven times in the past three years and finally landed in a good publishing house. 

I no longer receive rejections because I refuse to use that word. How about you? 


Crystal Bowman is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 100 books for children and four nonfiction books for women. She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and is a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. She loves going to schools to teach kids about poetry. She also speaks at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups and teaches workshops at writers’ conferences. When she is not writing or speaking, she enjoys going for walks, working out at the gym, and eating ice cream. She and her husband live in Michigan and have seven huggable grandkids.


  1. Crystal,

    I love the concept that a submission is redirected rather than rejected.The process is all about finding the right fit. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, the Chicken Soup for the Soul authors were rejected over 140 times before this series was published (one of the most successful in publishing now). They would say the word "next" to each other when they received a rejection. I like that word as hopeful, expectant and moving forward. Great article, Crystal. Thank you.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

  2. Thank you for your kind response, Terry. I think the fear of rejection can keep writers from submitting their work. "Redirection" is nothing to fear!

  3. Nice perspective, Crystal.
    Thanks. Let's keep getting redirected.

    1. Yes! I am not sure how the word "rejection" landed in the world of publishing, but I trying my best to change that word! Thanks!

  4. Larry Leech told me that each rejection is a step toward publication. I will always remember his encouraging words. :-)

  5. I like that concept too! Thanks, Melissa (and Larry).

  6. I felt at one time almost like the famous writer who received so many rejection letters he thought he had enough to paper a room in his house! I, too, dislike that word, but love "redirection." That sounds promising and encouraging. Thanks for your writing this morning.

  7. Redirection is a positive word, and that's what we writers need. Thanks for commenting.