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How to Get a Handle on Rejection (on the App Store)

Image by Faith Waters

Behind many successful individuals and brands, you’ll find a history of rejection. Steve Jobs was once fired from Apple before eventually returning as CEO, J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was turned down by countless publishers, Steven Spielberg couldn’t get into film school despite applying three times, and The Beatles were shown the door by four record companies. The statistics speak for themselves – rejection in itself is nothing to worry about. It’s how you deal with the big heave-ho that counts.

If you’re in or thinking of dipping your toes in the app development game, you better develop a thick skin and pronto. To get your app approved and open for business in the big wide world, you need to get it past the gatekeepers at the App Store. And nothing will sneak past those guys and gals that doesn’t tick all their boxes and meet their guidelines. That’s the reality! 

The process may be rigid, but to be fair, they’ve got a job to do and it involves looking after the security and safety of the users of your app. If yours isn’t trustworthy enough or up to scratch, you’ll receive that dreaded email informing you it’s time to return to the drawing board and fix any issues they’ve identified. Let’s not sugarcoat it. Rejection hurts like hell, but it’s a learning curve that you can use to your advantage. Here’s how.

Keep It Civil

Contrary to urban myth, the app review teams don’t usually issue blank rejections. They should contain specific reasons why your app was turned down, and the team are usually receptive to how you plan to resolve them. So in all correspondence, be polite and keep it civil. The reviewer is doing their best to interpret the guidelines and make life easier for everyone. So never take it personally, be professional, and view it as a chance to improve your app.

If it’s Broke, Fix it!

As an app developer, you should never be afraid to acknowledge a fault that someone else has identified. Making your app bulletproof should always be your number one goal. So if the reviewer has highlighted a legitimate issue that has a straightforward fix, fix it.

Clarity is key

Trust us, we know more than most how passionate you are about your app. It’s your baby and you’re hypersensitive to any criticism towards your pride and joy. So if you are unsure about any of the reviewers' comments, ensure you get clarification. 

In most cases, you can request a phone call or raise an issue in the Resolution Center. In the worst-case scenario where you believe the reviewer has made a mistake, contact them with detailed evidence from the App Store guidelines why you believe their decision is the wrong one. If the reviewer accepts their mistake, ensure the reviewer notes in App Store Connect are updated to avoid any future confusion. If all else fails, and you believe your app has fallen on the wrong side of a reviewer’s decision, appeal the rejection.

Remember, rejection isn’t a reflection of your abilities. It’s an opportunity to make what’s already good, greater.