How to Deal With a Rejected Article

Has your article ever been rejected? What do you think would have happened?

A ‘rejected article’ is a failure to the writer not simply because the one who rejected it didn’t approve it, but because the writer took responsibility to do something and failed in fulfilling it. But truth be told, every freelance writer has been rejected at least once. Keep in mind that rejection is common. When you take charge of doing something, probability of approval and rejection would always go hand in hand. The most important thing for you to do is to keep margin for rejection, so that when it comes in your face, you are able to cope with it.

While you get yourself ready for getting the result of article you just submitted, place yourself for a bit in your publisher’s shoes. They have articles coming to them from everywhere to be read and approved. They can’t just randomly select some articles for approval. The choice is judged on the basis of who actually showed his best – an error-free article with unique content that follows the publishers guidelines in essence. Therefore, you have to work really hard to actually get there.

Here are the two main areas describing core issues to work on:

Soft Areas

Know your Worth:

The content you bring to the audience has great worth. You can influence them by your writing in many ways. The audience might have been thinking differently but having read your article, their ideas may have changed. So realize the potential your writing has to influence other people’s minds and work on giving in your best to get the desired results.


Trust is also the factor. The information you give will then be talked about by the audience, who believe in what you give to them. You should say what you believe in yourself. Also the information you provide and the fact you place before the readers, should be authenticated.

That inner voice has both gentleness and clarity. So to get to authenticity, you really keep going down to the bone, to the honesty, and the inevitability of something.

– Meredith Monk


While taking up work, you should ask yourself, ‘How self-sufficient I am to do this? Do I need help before I take it up? Do I need to work harder than usual to ace it? Is it something new to me?’ A thorough ‘home-work’ is essential before you are ready to take the charge officially. Try talking to people who have sufficient knowledge in that area, go to library, go through the books, get help from our best friend like ‘Google’ and ‘Bing’, etc to get yourself ready. This way you will be able to tell if you can really do the job assigned or not. Your confidence is utmost important thing, which you can only have if you are equipped with self-sufficiency relevant to the work. Consider this. You are a teacher standing in the classroom about to explain the new topic that you scheduled for today. The students sitting before you are there to take what you have to offer. They will listen, absorb and retain what you tell them. You are the one with the power to influence their minds. Would you offer them something that you don’t excel at yourself? Would you tell them something you are not even sure of? Always remember, a good teacher is not judged by ‘how much’ he has taught but by ‘how well’ his students do in their future, which itself depends how well a teacher has taught.


Another point to consider is what got you started? Why did you choose to write articles, instead of taking up some other job? Was it because you thought it was convenient while doing other things at the same time? Or was it because you always wanted to tell people what you think and this was a great opportunity to avail? Whatever the factor was in making you choose this, straighten this simple thing out first in your mind. You took it up with your own will and now you should give your best. You believed at some point that you could do it, and now you should show them that you can. You have to be the best in your work, whatever that is. After all, what job is earned when there is no compassion?

You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.

– Richard David Bach (born 1936)

Tolerance for Criticism:

Criticism is healthy. Always remember, to achieve success, you have to take the critics’ views. Success is not in telling people, ‘I am successful’ and getting compliments. Success is in hidden in knowing what your critics think of your work. What harm would it do to you if you keep yourself open to different ideas, negative may it be about your work? It will simply lead you to growth; to different paths you may have never discovered before; to the possibilities you never believed in.

Even if your client keeps on approving your work, you have to hang on there once in a while and ask yourself, ‘How can I do better? What should I do to remove the monotonous element in my work? What did I not do before that I can do now to achieve improvement?’ An old saying tells us:

Do not be afraid of growing slowly, only of standing still.

Invite creativity:

Also, keep your mind open for all kinds of possibilities. Extremism is good when you are trying to convey your point, but at the same time, you have to be appreciative of the fact that different minds think differently. You can still convince others if your argument outweighs others beliefs. But pure rejection of possibilities is narrow-mindedness and is less likely to produce the results that you may desire.

It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.

– George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life

Feel of Rejection:

This could be the gravest feeling of all and could lead to discouragement, withdrawal and lack of confidence. But ask yourself, ` If I withdraw now, what is the chance that I don’t withdraw when my work is not approved the next time? Is withdrawal the answer?’ No! Withdrawal will only make you inconsistent and less confident. It will bleak your personality and morale. Fall down seven times but get up eight. Don’t fear what the outcome would be, just focus on your abilities and the quality of your inputs. Remember, nothing is wasted if done with devotion.

Hard Areas


Look for help! Find someone you know who can point out typos you have missed and areas that need clarity. This step can help you improve your work and at the same time, provides you feedback from a reader’s point of view.

Read Approved Articles:

‘Idealize’ the approved work and take notes from that, focusing on what made that article successful. When you read, think about what made the article successful? Is it its coherence? Is it the introduction that appeals most? Are the sentences clear-cut and covey the point? Does the writer have a uniqueness that you don’t find a lot in other writings? What is unique about him?

Learn Your Language:

Excel the language you use in writing your articles. Here are the tips:

  • Assign short assignments on daily-basis– even a session of fifteen minutes can do wonders.
  • Learn from mistakes you make. Don’t lose heart on that and have a go – you’ll learn more quickly.
  • Listen to audio CDs while doing other things, like doing house chores.
  • Watch TV shows and videos online, e.g. YouTube, in the language you’re learning. Grasp different kinds of words and sentences people use to describe similar situations which you would have described differently. This will help you achieve uniqueness in your writing.
  • Make flash cards of new words that you have learnt and place them somewhere you can access them easily, like in the car, so while you wait for the light to go ‘green’, you can go through them.
  • Say newly discovered words out loud for retention. Use them in your conversations, emails, texts, etc.
  • Try attending events that promotes the language you are learning, so that you can be the part of the environment. This helps a lot in learning.
  • Redo the exercises and revise what you have learnt. Repetition definitely helps!

Use of Punctuations Accurately:

There are no definite rules about the use of punctuations. However, a proper style guidelines can help you in sharing your expressions effectively and can avoid the confusion which usually arises due to the wrong use of punctuations. Here is a quick list to help you master and use common punctuation errors:

Period (.) –

The utmost use of a period is to bring a sentence to an end. It is also used in abbreviations. Examples include Mr., Mrs., St. Joseph, B.C., etc.

At the same time, watch out for a few instances where periods are not supposed to be used. For example, it is PhD, not P.hD. Use of period is also avoided when the word is not pronounced, perhaps because it is a very commonly known term. For example: UoH (University of Houston).

Question Mark (?) –

Wherever a question is asked, a question mark must be used at the end of it.

For example,

His question was, can we end this statement with a question mark?

Exclamation Mark (!) –

This mark is used when certain expression needs to be made, such as anger, happiness, excitement, etc. Using it multiple times in one go makes the writing look unprofessional and gives the impression that the writer’s expression of words aren’t convincing enough, that’s why he has made use multiple use of exclamation marks. Therefore, avoid using ‘!!!!’.

Quotation Marks (‘’) –

Quotation marks are used to quote what the person is saying or has/had said. However, avoid using the marks, when indirect speech is being narrated. For example,

I told him that he could do it on his own. This is correct.

I told him that, ‘he could do his own’. This is incorrect.

Quotation marks are also used to emphasize something or bring the reader’s special attention to it.

Colon (:) –

A colon should be used next to a sentence to introduce another sentence in the form of directions, a list, illustrations or explanations.

For example,

There was only one possible explanation: the train had never arrived.

Semi-colon (;) –

A semi-colon is used to compound more than one sentence.

It is also used to separate items in a list, where the use of comma has already been made.

For e.g., members of the board of directors include Josh Clarkson, the CEO; Kevin Stamper, the Secretary; Peter Thompson, the CFO; and Laura Peterson, the non-executive director.

Comma (,) –

When more than one thing needs to be said in one sentence, a comma is used. For example:

It was a great day, because I met my old friend after a long time.

Apostrophe (’)-

The apostrophe has three uses:

  • to tell possession of a noun, e.g. boy’s cat
  • to omit letters, e.g. he’ll
  • to form plurals of lowercase letters, e.g. I’m tired of all his maybe’s.

Parentheses () –

Parentheses are used when extra information has to be told in a sentence.

For example,

I asked Mark (my friend Mark Zuckerberg) to come and see me.

Dash and Hyphen (-) –

Use the dash to emphasize something, e.g. her performance was excellent – quite extraordinary.

A hyphen is used to compound words that are adjectives before a noun is used, e.g. honey-roasted peanuts.

A hyphen is also used with the prefixes ex- , pre-, post-, anti-, extra-, etc.

Idioms and Proverbs:

Idioms are expressions of words that one can’t often tell if it relates to the situation. Idioms are difficult to understand because there are stories from different cultures behind them. Proverbs are wise sayings by famous people and can be easily related.

It is always a good to use them to enhance your writing and give meaning to the situation you are trying to explain.


Use of quotations is very much impactful if used where relevant. Here are some guidelines that should be followed:

  • Always start and end the quotation with quotation marks.
  • First letter of the quote should be uppercase and the rest should be lowercase.
  • If a piece is extracted from the complete quotation, do not start with the uppercase letter; always start the ‘continued piece’ with lowercase letter.
  • A period should be used to end the quote, before the ending quotation mark.
  • Use of several quotations in one paper should be minimized, because the content loses its originality and it gives the impression that the write didn’t have much of his own ideas to offer, that’s why he had to use quotations.


Once you are through writing your article, having followed all the major areas discussed above, comes the point when you should read, edit, revise and then again, edit. Often the tiny matters prevent an article from becoming accepted. Follow Richard Carlson’s 90-10 rules in this case: even if 90% of your article is well-written, that 10% should also not be avoided and worked on. More often than not, 5-10 percent of poor writing results in rejection. See this from a reader’s viewpoint: it is easy to ignore what is perfect, but any error comes to notice in a blink. Watch out for that!

Now is the time to actually revise your work on which you spent all your energies to bring it to an end. But before you start doing that, set it aside for a period of time and divert your mind elsewhere. When you come back after a while, you will be able to start afresh.

Go through the contents of your article and consider yourself first as a ‘reader’. Think what a reader may be expecting from this article and see if your article fulfils those expectations. Now consider yourself to be a skillful writer (which you should believe that you are!) and scan through the reasonable expectations of a publisher. In the end place yourself in the shoes of an editor and see what you would have liked and disliked about your article if you were the editor and the article was someone else’s submission. You can make a checklist before-hand so that you can scan your article through the items listed under ‘reader’, ‘writer’ and ‘editor’ expectations. You can include items such as: clarity of purpose, uniqueness of ideas, proper expression of ideas, correct use of punctuations, format, style, structure, etc. Once done, get it proof-read by someone you trust for errors and omissions.

Finally, your article should seem like a well structured, uniformly formatted, and an error-free work. Hold your breath, take pride in yourself and get yourself ready to submit your work. Hit ‘Send’ and wait for the results. You know whatever it would be; you are almost there; almost there to reach the goal you have set for yourself, to be in the place where you wish to be.

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  1. Very informative article. It is light of hope for those, who got their article rejected include me. Thanks a alot.

  2. Jay,

    Excellent points! This is a very important topic because nearly every writer faces rejection sooner or later. So, learning to deal with it is part of learning to be a professional.

    One thing I always tell writers is not to take it personally. They aren’t being rejected. Their writing is.

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