Make Submitting Work Your Superpower

David James Poissant

Over at the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, writer David James Poissant discusses a topic very near and dear to my heart:

Grit. Or maybe you call it persistence. He calls it relentlessness and tenacity.

It goes by a lot of names, but basically it means a few rejections aren’t going to stop you. Or just because you didn’t get your novel published at age 30, you decide you’re all washed up.

Poissant writes:

Perhaps, for some writers, publications and acclaim come easy, but I’m not one of those writers, nor do I know any. No magazine or editor has ever come to my door and knocked and asked if I had a story or novel sitting around that needed publishing. I say this, and you nod. But, you’d be surprised by how often students or beginning writers complain about not being published or about the difficulty of placing work before confessing that they don’t really send their work out, or that they’ll send a story to three or four literary magazines before giving up on it.

In my experience, it’s not the ones with talent who make it. It’s the ones who keep at it, even when things are going horribly wrong.

Get more inspiration over at Glimmer Train’s latest bulletin:

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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William Ash
William Ash

Well, said.

Elizabeth Gilbert on her web site gives great advice. She says that it is not the authors job to reject the work. The author should write and then send it to a publisher who employs a person to do that. Just write, just keep sending your stuff out. The writer does not have to worry if the work is good, that is the publisher’s job.

That is a great insight as it sets up a very impersonal system–the writer writes, the publisher publishes. Not being published does not mean failure. Not writing does.


This is very well said and very true. I think writers hear and see those who had some magical pill that made it easy for them and figure “I can do the same thing”. I’ll be the next Stephanie Meyers, who’s novel Twilight was published within three months and she was given a ridiculous advance, or the next E.L. James (who people forget was in the industry on the television side and has a husband who’s in production; so many connections). For the most profound and serious of writers, it does take grit, and belief in your work and your… Read more »


In 2005, I wrote the first draft of a nonfiction book for young people. Since then, I’ve workshopped it, rewritten it, won a WIP award, submitted (with rejections), researched it more, rewrote it again, submitted it (again with rejections), moved onto other projects, then I discovered a house that seemed just right, submitted it again. And now it’s slated to come out in 2015. That’s 10 years in the making. But I believe it’s a far better book now for all the leaving and coming back to the story.


Wow, Jane, you are really superb – this post is spot-on to a little talk I’m giving next week on getting published, and I emphasise how unknown writers can get some hits under their belt with submitting to the right publication and the right competition. Of course your blog is high on my list of places to get useful and timely information. Keep it coming, please!


Time and time again when student writers ask me “How do I get published” their eyes glaze over when I start to talk about the “work” involved. They want the 1-2-3 list that ends with the TA DA! But I’m sure I was the same way. Don’t we all want the magic sometimes?

Angie Dixon

Absolutely. I’ve always said if I’m not receiving rejections it’s because I’m not working enough. I have the tenacity of a badger…most days, and in most tasks. I don’t have the badger’s thick skin, but I don’t think that’s a necessity. If you’re sensitive, you just have to give yourself a few minutes or an hour to feel bad and then jump back in there. I like to remember that the worst thing anyone could say is “NO NO NO NOT IF YOU WERE THE LAST PERSON ON EARTH NO! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU EVEN ASKED ME! NO!” And so… Read more »


Timely and bold words and i appreciate the reminder to forge ahead.