Everyone considers rejection a bad thing. If you are rejected by the person who you adore and love, is life worth living? If you are rejected for that loan, whatever will you do? And the examples could go on and on...
For the writer, rejection comes in many forms and some are bad, leaving the author in utter dejection. But, other rejections can be good. Good, you ask? Yes, but first let me explain and give you examples.
Starting with the third example first, we'll work backwards. If the author is 'enjoying' book sales, rather than being ecstatic about the great sales, then, more than likely, there are issues to be addressed with the work. Whether it be a novel, a poem or a magazine article, if nobody is noticing it, sales will flounder. Even flooding social media with great marketing savvy can't help a book some times!
Of course, moving to the second example, a bad review, can also have some influence on this aspect. A bad review can actually be a good thing. This is not what you expected to hear. Of course, this is totally dependent on the actual review. If the reviewer comments on the editing, that is, the spelling, grammar and punctuation, those are items that can be corrected and the review can be called good. But, if the reviewer comments are regarding the content or main characters, again, it could be for the betterment of the project. If the derogatory comment is about a character, this is something you can address and fix. The same holds true for an article. If you are weak in an aspect of the subject matter, you can place more effort at that section to bolster the article's interest and readability. If the reviewer pans you with no explanation, at that point, it is a bad review and there is little hope to salvage anything. Don't ever rise to the bait of a bad review and attempt to justify yourself. Accept a bad review with grace and dignity and move on.
The rejection letter is, by far, the best form of rejection to address. Whatever you do, never, ever think you 'have it in the bag' when sending out a query or manuscript, whether it be to a publisher, agent or editor. Why do I say this? I found an agent who was seeking a) a female lead, b) vampires, c) Brazilian jungle, d) historical background, e) current military or civilian action, f) religious overtones and, of course, g) some sex. So I was more than thrilled to send my work, Ancient Blood: The Amazon which entailed a young anthropologist female who discovers vampires in the Brazilian Amazon jungle which have been hidden since the Conquistadors discovered the Amazon River. There are local police and government officials with a lot of 'shoot them up' scenes with government scandals and, of course, secret religious orders manipulating things via different sources. Oh, and there was sex, too! My partner and I figured we'd nailed the requirements and had us an agent. I sent the email and waited excitedly... a whole five (5) minutes. The agent replied:
Still, when you receive a rejection letter, if you're lucky, there might be comments informing you of the short-comings. It isn't often that occurs in today's harried publishing world, but there are still some editors who will send more than a standard reject form. Take the notes and read them, analyze and learn from what has been offered. Years ago (aka decades) an e-zine publisher rejected my short story with an offer of a possible re-read if I could explain the time continuum and how it was involved with time travel. I revamped my short story, staying within the guidelines and resubmitted. It was accepted. My novel, An Amish Voice, is currently with an agent and it has been sent to various publishing houses. One was interested but only if I was willing to add another 25 thousand words to the story and another possible love interest. I agreed, the publisher read but rejected the story. Still, I had been given an interesting twist to add to my story if I decide to finally self-publish the story if no other publishing house picks it up. When an agent, publisher or editor makes suggestions, remember to evaluate and then decide if it is something that can improve the article or story. This is when a rejection is a good thing.
Do rejections hurt? Yes! Of course they hurt. This is your baby. This is your pride and joy. You've labored over this manuscript or article, pouring your heart and soul into the pages. To have another person defile the sanctity of your work is a very difficult thing to accept.
Remember, it is only through rejection that a writer can improve and with improvement, become published. Almost every writer, from the very unknown to the very well-known, like Stephen King, none were an overnight sensation. They, the well-knowns, received rejections just as the unknowns received.
Rejections are not an item to hide shamefully but to wear as a badge of honor. They are your scars to sport proudly in the battle to publication.