I think we writers set ourselves up for a fall by using the word, “rejection.” Rejection is what happens when a guy says he doesn’t want to see you anymore, the sorority or mean girls’ table doesn’t accept you, or your body makes you deathly ill after a liver transplant.
When an editor or agent says, “I can’t use your manuscript,” they are telling you the truth. It’s like a writer turning down an insurance salesman. It is not that more insurance wouldn’t be nice, it’s just that the writer cannot afford it right now, has different priorities, or uses a different financial tool to accomplish the same purpose. The editor may be focusing on an unrelated issue, the agent may not be able to afford the time to promote or polish your work, or they may have just bought all the manuscripts they can handle in your genre.
But why don’t they give every writer a personal explanation as to why they said, “No?” Do you give a personal explanation to the fourth telemarketing call you get in a day? Agents and editors main work is selling the manuscripts they have accepted, not buying new ones. Of course, we wish that wasn’t so.
I prefer to say that an agent, “turned me down.” This is a more neutral phrase, and a more accurate phrase, than saying he or she rejected me.