It is immeasurably hard as a writer not to take rejection personally, and yet, I think rejection is rarely personal. If you are someone who has studied your craft, actively reads in your genre (and outside of it), carefully follows submission guidelines, is polite, hardworking, and at least somewhat confident (note: not arrogant), chances are rejection is simply… not a good fit.
Take Rachelle Gardner’s post on why agents aren’t always specific in their rejections. Sometimes, there are no specifics. Sometimes, it just isn’t the right fit at a particular place at a particular time.
I know I’ve lamented to myself before that if I only knew what I was doing wrong, I could fix it. Why can’t more rejections come with feedback? But, I understand the limitations of agents and editors. I appreciate the time they took, even though I must then wrack my brain to figure out what was wrong. Because, one opinion is not The Only Opinion. If we got feedback on all our submissions, unless we were doing something very wrong like poor grammar or one-dimensional characters, we would get feedback ranging the gamut.
One editor might suggest the hero is too stand-offish, while another might suggest he’s too accommodating. One agent might find a character’s motivations to be unbelievable, while another might find the setting dull and distracting. If you are a good writer, you are going up against the same things all published writers are up against—varying opinions, tastes, interests. Rejection isn’t always “this is wrong.” Sometimes, as Rachelle says, it’s “this isn’t for me.”
The trick, as always, is finding someone it is for.