Dealing with the Dreaded Multi-Rejection Day

You’ve been at this writing thing for a while now, and you’ve started to develop a fairly thick skin. The odd form rejection doesn’t really faze you anymore, and, hey, you’ve even had a couple of acceptances recently. I mean, you’re really starting to rack up those Rejectomancer XPs. You’re feeling good, feeling confident, so you fire off a whole bunch of submissions, half-a-dozen, maybe more, all at once. Then, feeling accomplished, you sit back and wait. You’re no fool, you know the game, you know some and maybe all those submissions could get rejected. You’re ready for and expecting rejection letters. What you’re not ready for is all those rejection letters arriving on the same goddamn day.

I’m not gonna lie, and there is no way to sugar-coat this; the multi-rejection day stings like a motherfucker. The real bitch of it is you can’t avoid it. It’s not common (I hope), but it’s gonna happen. It’s the unfortunate byproduct of what is essentiality a good thing—feeling confident enough to send out a lot of your work.

My personal record is three in one day. I know writers who have received four or more. Opening your email to one rejection letter is no fun, opening it to three will make you think there’s a vast editorial conspiracy with the sole purpose of grinding your hopes and dreams to paste beneath a mountain of “Not right for us” and “We’ll have to pass.” Of course, that’s not true, and I’ll bet there are even kind-hearted editors who would hold a rejection letter for a day if they could somehow know a writer just received one.

When you do find yourself the victim of a multi-reject day, it can definitely mess with your head a little. You’re only human, and worse, you’re a writer, and our psyches tend to be more Swiss cheese than solid granite when it comes to keeping out shit like self-doubt. The best way to deal with the multi-rejection day is to see it for what it is: an unlikely outcome, a bad roll of the dice. Try to keep in mind, as hard as it may be, that three rejection letters at the same time doesn’t mean anything more than three rejection letters spaced out over a week. It’s just bad timing, that’s all.

In my opinion, another good way to deal with the multi-rejection day is to reach out to and talk to other writers. That can really help. A writer pal of mine just experienced one and received a totally genuine outpouring of sympathy from other writers (me included). We all know how bad it hurts, and if I can ease that hurt a little for another writer, I’m gonna do it. I’ll probably need that sympathy reciprocated in the very near future.

Have you ever had a multi-rejection day? Tell us about it in the comments. And if you’ve ever had a multi-acceptance day, please, please, please tell us about that, just so we know it’s not the writer’s equivalent of Sasquatch or something.

6 thoughts on “Dealing with the Dreaded Multi-Rejection Day

  1. I’ve had several multi-rejection days, but they were more common in the past than lately. Several years ago I kept more than 100 submissions circulating, so the odds were great that I’d receive more than one rejection on any given day. Since then I’ve become a better writer and I’ve become better at targeting my submissions. I don’t have near as many submissions circulating these days because most (alas, not all) sell on first or second submission.

    I’ve also had several multi-acceptance days. The most recent was August 16 when I had two short stories accepted. I did even better on February 11 when I had two original stories and a reprint accepted the same day.

    I’ve also had my share of hybrid days–acceptances and rejections received on the same day.

    Having multi-rejection, multi-acceptance, and hybrid days mostly comes down to productivity. In 2014 I completed 53 short stories, and that year I received 42 acceptances and 21 rejections.

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    • I’d call you prolific, but the word doesn’t really do justice to your output. Those are amazing numbers. I’m still boggling at 100+ submissions in circulation at once. Thanks for your comment and for showing us the multi-acceptance day is more coelacanth than Sasquatch. 😉

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    • A follow-up thought:

      I think multi-rejection days were more painful when I first began writing. Back then all submissions, all rejections, and (except for a rare phone call or fax) all acceptances were via snail mail.

      That means a stack of manila envelopes crowding the mail box usually meant a stack of bad news arriving all at once. (Luckily, Sunday was always rejection-free.)

      Today, with responses coming via email at any time on any day, we might still receive multiple rejections in a day, but (except for the disciplined among us who only check email once a day), we usually have a few hours to get over the first rejection before the second one arrives.

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      • That makes a lot of sense. I’ve only had to deal with the SASE a few times. The market switched over to email submission long before I started seriously submitting my work. I do remember those few snail mail submissions, though, and how the rejection letters did seem so much worse. Maybe that’s because I was so new to writing and the process of submitting my work, but I also think it’s somehow tougher to dismiss an honest-to-god, printed rejection letter than one by email.

        Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

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