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Failure, Rejection and the Writing Life by Sarah Webb

I’ve been writing full time for over twelve years now. In that time I’ve published number one bestselling novels for adults (Always the Bridesmaid) and children’s books that have been shortlisted for awards (Ask Amy Green series, Sally Go Round the Stars, Beyond the Stars) but I’ve also had book ideas turned down by my publishers and have started several novels that will never (and should never in most cases!) see the light of day.

Sally Go Round the Stars

Sally Go Round the Stars

When books are turned down –rejected – it can be a real blow to your confidence but it’s part of every writer’s job to dream up new books. Some will work and others won’t.

Award winning children’s and YA author, Sheena Wilkinson says the ‘standard story is of rejections and then the magic yes. But another story is after that. When you keep writing better books, have a track record of awards and good reviews, but not great sales, and then get rejections. I think people are less willing to talk about that. And perhaps less prepared for it.’ I agree, it can be tough and all writers experience it.


Sometimes we have to ‘reject’ our own work, and it takes guts to admit that the book we have been working on for months or even years isn’t good enough. About ten years ago I wrote a 100,000 word adult novel and I was gutted when I realised that it wasn’t good enough and that I’d have to start again with a different idea.

My first book, Kids Can Cook was turned down by most of the Irish publishers – O’Brien Press, Gill and Macmillan, Mercier, Poolbeg – before finding a home at the small but wonderful Children’s Press. It paved the way for future books and I will always be grateful to the editor, Reena Dardis for taking a chance on me.

To have a successful writing career you need self-belief, energy, dedication and above all, resilience. The skin of a rhino also helps! But you only need to find one person who loves your work, one editor who believes in you. One.

Every writer has faced rejection. All writers get turned down. It’s how you pick yourself up that matters, how you keep going.

Irish writer, Samuel Beckett once said: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’ It’s great advice.

Writing is a Journey

Writing is a Journey into the Unknown 

If you love to write, keep writing!

Yours in writing,


4 thoughts on “Failure, Rejection and the Writing Life by Sarah Webb

  1. You are so right… this is the elephant no one talks about, and it can come as a huge shock to find that in a way, every book is the first book when you try to sell it.

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