Anybody make a sale in the last week? If you did congratulations! Anybody get rejected? If you did, hang in there.
Unfortunately I received neither, but I’m eagerly anticipating a response from several different places. I’m hoping for at least a couple sales, but I’m prepared for the rejections. Looking forward to them actually. As I showed last week, a rejected story always has potential for revision and resubmission to a different and often better market.
As I’m preparing my own collection for self-publication, I’m actually hoping some circulating stories get rejected, but not quite enough to withdraw them. I think a few of them would fit nicely into the collection I’m putting together. If you asked me a year ago, I would’ve said “That’s the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.”
But it’s true.
I’m far from being a veteran writer, but I’m sure a lot of folks that have been in this biz longer than me would agree. Rejection often works in your favor.
There are two main types of rejection letters. Form and personalized.
A form rejection is a standard, no thought, automatic rejection that will usually say something like “Thanks for submitting, but you’re story isn’t right for the anthology.” Or something along those lines. A polite way of saying “you suck.” When I first started, those were all I got. It was discouraging.
As I continued to submit I began to gather personalized rejections. It might have been the presses and editors that I was submitting to, or it might have been that my stories were improving. I’m not really sure. Several stories were rejected with a couple lines about the story, why it got rejected, why it didn’t fit, too long, too short etc. And almost always included my biggest, constant sin as a writer. TOO REPETITIVE.
I’ve heard too repetitive from publishers a million times. Guess what that tells me? Exactly. I’m too goddamn repetitive. I’m convinced that excessive repetition is my biggest flaw as a writer and through these personalized rejections, this major flaw was finally brought to my attention.
“Your story isn’t quite right for us,” would’ve never made me realize this.
Through those personalized rejections (send me an email [email protected] and I’ll give you a list of publishers that have sent me the best rejections) I was able to revise, resubmit, and sell to other markets. Could I have sold them without the comments of the editor? Maybe. I don’t know, but I sure as hell know those comments didn’t hurt, and sped up the whole process.
Hopefully, and I might be wrong about this, personalized rejections will at least help the editor remember your name, possibly giving you a better shot the next time around. Kind of like a makeup call in football or basketball. This guy wrote a great story that didn’t quite fit last time around, maybe I’ll throw him a bone this time. Like I said, I’m probably wrong, but I prefer to see the bottle of blood half full.
I can tell you a mini story about this. Last summer, I sent a story in that got rejected. I can’t remember what my cover letter said, but whatever it was got me an immediate, personalized confirmation response from an editor. I don’t know why she liked me from the word go, but she did. She even friended me on Facebook. Worse things can happen.
She rejected my story a few weeks later, and I don’t know if she personalized my rejection because she liked me, the story was good, or she personalizes all of her rejections, but I like to think it’s some combination of one and two. She was the first person to tell me a story of mine was too repetitive. Like most amateur authors, my first response was to jump up and scream BULLSHIT.
Then, I went back and reread the story.
I wasn’t even through the second page when I realized just how exactly right she was. I still do it. In every first draft and I don’t know how to stop it, but in my revisions, I keep an eagle eye out, and my writing improved a great deal with this small piece of advice. (Was that a run-on fragment? I hope so)
Anyway, I spent a few hours fixing up the story based on her suggestions and guess what!?
I sold it to the next market I subbed it to. It’s coming out soon in an anthology called Under the Knife from Cruentus Libri Press.
On a whim, not even expecting a response, I sent her a Facebook message thanking her for her feedback and telling her that I revised the story and placed it in another market. She surprised me with a quick response. She surprised me even more by telling me that she remembered me, my story, and the rejection she sent me. This was a month or two down the line. I’m not making this up. I was blown away. She congratulated me and said she looked forward to future submissions from me. Like I said a few weeks ago, you truly never know.
It was a wonderful experience and I hope I can place a better story on her desk in the future.
So personalized sound soooooooo much better right?
True, you get the excellent feedback, but sometimes you also get the, “your story didn’t make the cut, but it was the best of the best… of the losers.”
Thanks a fuckton.
Please excuse me while I rip my hair out.
I actually got a few of these before I sold my first story. (One place that I occasionally sub to is notorious for this) I’m being funny here and even though something like that is as funny as it is depressing, it is still somewhat validating, as long they don’t send that same line to everyone. Anybody want to compare rejections and find out?
I guess the lesson to take from this two parter is to not let rejection get you down. It’s going to happen, so get used to it and eventually you’ll get over it. Eventually you’ll even find it funny. I posted one last week and I’ve got a few others that have made me laugh. Here’s another gem: “Interesting premise and started out great. Good initial development, good hook and nicely developed characters.”
Here’s the second half “About halfway through the story it started getting ridiculous.” Out of context this probably isn’t funny, but it had me in tears. The good kind.
Don’t take it so seriously, practice, patience and perseverance will eventually pay off. If my jackass can sell 8 stories in a year, you can sell at least 9.
Lastly, publishing moves about as fast as a slug riding a turtle, so don’t count on those few stories that you’ve sent out. It might be months before you hear back. Keep writing. Have 10 more ready to rock while you wait to hear back.
Your writing will improve, your inevitable rejection won’t hurt as much and then when you get that pleasant surprise that you’re story has been accepted you can order a pizza and get happy drunk at a strip club and spend 100x more than the token payment your story will probably receive.
Also, you’ll have more experience with writing and editing (please god, even though I’ve occasionally committed this sin, don’t send out first drafts) so when you get a personalized rejection you’ll be able to improve the story and sell it somewhere else.
Take the advice of the editors, unless you can tell they completely misread your story, which is rare, but can happen, they are probably not wrong. You are fledgling writer and they are (or should be) an experienced professional editor. Translation: they know their shit. Listen to them. Their honest and sometimes harsh criticism is worth a lot more than a reader emotionally attached to you who is prone to telling you that you shit sunshine and puke rainbows.
If you work, and work, and work, it can and will happen, and in my experience, once things start going good, they usually stay good and rarely dip below average.
Don’t give up on your stories. Best advice I can offer you all. Take the suggestions you get in your rejections and turn shit into sugar.
I got no emails last week. I felt rejected. If you’ve got anything to say, hit me up at [email protected] or check out my brand new Facebook author page New World Horror – Kerry G.S. Lipp. So far it’s got 8 likes. That’s it. Makes me borderline suicidal. How about a mercy like?
PS. Just to prove my point about rejection, and this is not a lie, I wrote this blog at a bar and just asked my server for her number. (I’m really glad she was kind of cute) I figured as I finished this blog it would be win win. I’d either get it or I wouldn’t and if I didn’t, I’d learn from it and do better next time. And I’d have a nice conclusion to the end of the rejection blog.
PPS, I was kind of hoping I’d get rejected because it would’ve been funnier. I might even text her. No phone calls, it’s 2013.
Kick ass and write some great shit this week!
Keep reading, keep writing and keep it real,
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- Ongoing Submissions: Trigger Warning - April 7, 2016
- Six Hundred Sixty Six Bottles of Blood on the Wall: Not Ready To Die - September 19, 2015
- Ongoing Submissions: Black Girls Are Magic Lit Mag - September 11, 2015
- Ongoing Submissions: Creepy Campfire Stories (for Grownups) Quarterly Publication - July 24, 2015
- Introducing GRAVE MARKERS - June 3, 2015
- Six Hundred Sixty Six Bottles of Blood on the Wall: Things I’m Thankful For (And a few I’m not) - November 27, 2014
- Ongoing Submissions: Flash Fiction For PMMP - September 11, 2014
- Six Hundred Sixty Six Bottles of Blood on the Wall: An Open Letter to Publishers - July 5, 2014
- Ongoing Submissions: Cranial Leakage – Tales From The Grinning Skull - June 6, 2014