Let's get one thing straight: if you are getting rejection letters, it means you are really a writer! Welcome to the club! ::Cue wild cheers and rowdy applause::
No, but seriously. Rejection letters are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, they are a rite of passage. They are evidence that you are working to put yourself and your passion out there and that's commendable. Most people go through their whole lives without ever being so brave. So shake off the stigma that rejection letter = failure, brush the dirt off your shoulders, eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's if it helps you feel better, and get back up on that horse. The road to publication is paved in letters of rejection. It's just one of those realities that we as writers have to face.
And not just bad writers – ALLLLLLL WRITERS!!! Yes, all of them.
According to a BuzzFeed article I once read:
And here's the kicker to end all kickers – (This one seriously breaks my brain!)
I bet she's laughing all the way to the bank as this 2015 article states:
"Joanne Rowling, writing under the pen name J.K. Rowling, has now written seven books in the Harry Potter series, which have sold more than 400 million copies. All seven books have been turned into feature films, with eight films having been produced under the watchful eye of Rowling. The franchise also led to the creation of over 400 licensed products, 11 video games, and two theme parks. All told, Rowling created a $15 billion brand. While her net worth is a fraction of that, as it is estimated to be just less than $1 billion, that's still enough to make her the world's richest author."
There is no doubt in my mind that all twelve people who rejected Harry Potter lose sleep every night over that mistake!
The reason I bring all of this up is because now that I am on the other side of the fence as a publisher instead of a writer, I know how subjective the selection can be. There are so many factors that can influence a publisher or agent's decision, beyond just your story and your writing. Sometimes it’s the amount of other projects accepted, especially in the same genre, or the current climate of the market, or timing, or dips in trend, or a million of other things that may not have to do with you.
Let me tell you, it's hard to say no. At least for me it is. Because I know that there is a dreamer on the other end of that email who has high hopes for their novel and I never want to be the person who discourages a writer from continuing on in their pursuit of publication. But you need to be stronger and better than the rejections by remembering that it may not be you.
Now if you've received 100 letters of rejection for the same project, perhaps there are somethings you may want to revise: be it your query letter or the manuscript itself. Maybe invest some time in taking your manuscript through a round of beta-readers, a group (3 or so) of trusted friends who will give you some honest feedback on your story, or an editor who can help you identify any issues with your project. Maybe it just needs some tweaking. But if you've only sent out five submissions and received rejections on them, you are still too early in the process to abandon your project or your dream of writing. You need to think, "It's gonna take more than 5, 10, 20, 50 rejections to take me down!" Especially if this is your dream.
As writers, we are innately dreamers and sure, it's hard to be told "no" after all the time you've spent creating your art. But it's just part of the journey. You can grow from it, or you can give up.
But real writers, we don't scare so easily.