Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Surviving The Rejection Rollercoaster

by Lisa Katzenberger

It Will Be OK book cover

There is a certain feeling that goes along with sharing your stories with the world and asking someone to love your work. For me, it’s a mixture of thrill and fear, with a little nausea mixed in for good measure. The thrill of agency representation! The joy of getting an offer! The fear that no one will like your story! As you wait, wait, wait to hear back from agents and editors, the anticipation builds, like rising up a rollercoaster, slowly, so slowly. 

Then WHOOSH! You are plummeted to the bottom and faced with a rejection. Before you even have time to catch your breath, you are spinning, your heart twisting and turning as you try to process this pass. And before you know it, the ride is over. But then there is something that pulls at you, something that says “Wanna go again?” And feeling either brave or terrified (or both), you get back on. If you want to win at this publishing game, you gotta get back on.

I often wonder why I put myself through this writing game that is 95% rejection and 5% success. Why do I go through the pain of people saying my words, my story, my heart, are “not a good fit?”

National Regular Average Ordinary Day book cover

Because the rejections keep on coming. Even after you sign with an agent, even after you see your book on the shelves at Target, the rejections keep on coming. And they still hurt.

So how do we survive? 

A good cry helps. Chocolate is key. Give yourself a reward for getting out there, for being brave, for exposing your heart.

And then write. Do not let these rejections knock you down. Rejections stink, and they stir up lots of emotions of self-doubt. But the “no” is really a “not yet.” It’s not a “never.” So keep on writing, keep on showing up to the page, keep on submitting.

Finally, talking to writer friends is a must. They understand what you are going through the best and will listen and nod and give you a hug. If you haven’t been to a local SCBWI Illinois Network meeting, get to one stat, even if over Zoom. And share your story, your pain, your worries, your fears. We are all here to listen. We are all going through this together.

And then we will ride the rollercoaster along with you the next time around.



Lisa Katzenberger lives in the Chicago area and is a longtime member of SCBWI, where she volunteers as the Social Media Coordinator for the Illinois Region. Her debut picture book was published in Summer 2020 from Penguin Workshop. Visit her at