December 2015 Rejection Roundup

Let’s bring 2015 to a close Rejectomancy style with a summary of all the rejection letters I received in December. I know December isn’t quite over, but with the holidays, I’ve likely gotten all the responses I’m gonna get.

Like last month, December wasn’t all bad news, and I did get one story accepted. We’ll get to that, but first I’ll let you all indulge in a little schadenfreude.

Rejection 1: 12/5/15

Thank you for submitting your story, “XXX”, to XXX. Unfortunately, we have decided not to publish it. To date, we have reviewed many strong stories that we did not take. Either the fit was wrong or we’d just taken tales with a similar theme or any of a half dozen other reasons. Best success selling this story elsewhere.

Man, I’ve seen this letter a lot. This is from a pro-paying market I’ve been trying to crack for a long time, and this is their standard common form rejection. If you read my post Five Flavors of Form Rejection, then you know there’s only one thing to focus on in this polite, professional rejection letter. If you need a hint, I’ve highlighted the important part.

Moving on.

Rejection 2: 12/11/15

Thank you for sending “XXX” to XXX.  While we appreciate the opportunity to review your work, we will have to pass on this submission.  The story was well done, but not quite right for us.

We hope you find a good home for this story.  Thanks for the read, and best of luck with your writing.

This is technically a personal rejection, I think. The line, “The story was well done . . .,” makes it feel like a personal rejection, but since this is the first time I’ve submitted to and been rejected by this publication, I’m not one-hundred percent sure. I’ll need to get rejected again to know for certain. I think my submission targeting was a little off here, but it’s hard to tell for certain because the magazine is putting together its first issue, so there were no example stories to refer to. I’m usually wary of fledgling publications, but this one is paying pro rates, which is rare, and, I gotta admit, really enticing. I’ll definitely send this publication something else.

Next rejection.

Rejection 3: 12/19/15

Thank you for sending us “Story X”. Unfortunately, this piece is not for us. We wish you the best of luck finding a home for it.

If you have other work which you feel we may be interested in, please do not hesitate to submit it to us.

This was yet another rejection for “Story X,” which I covered in detail in this post.


Okay, I’ve choked down all my vegetables, let’s have some motherfuckin’ dessert!

Acceptance: 12/22/15

We’re very happy to say we’d like to accept “XXX” to run at XXX! I very much enjoyed it – which I’ll admit kind of surprised me because sports and horror rarely mix well – but I think you made a very smart writing choice by focusing the piece on the moment of truth and tight suspense writing.

You can expect the contract in a separate email from our Contracts Administrator (usually within 2-4 weeks).

I’m always thrilled with an acceptance, but I’m particularly stoked about this one because it’s a pro sale. Technically, this is a reprint acceptance, and those familiar with my work can probably figure out which story this letter references. (Keep it to yourself for the moment, though.) The difference here is the format; this publication is an audio magazine, so my story will get the audiobook treatment. Cool, huh?

The editor says some nice things, and it’s always cool to hear that your story surprised a reader, in a good way. Then, like most acceptance letters I’ve received, this one has a few business details to get out of the way. The contract is the big part, but they also had me fill out a questionnaire about me, the story, and a few other details specific to the audio format.

Of course, when the story is published, I’ll let you know, and point you to the site to give it a listen.


That’s it for my December. How was yours?

13 Comments on “December 2015 Rejection Roundup

  1. I’d call Rejection #2 an upper-tier form (or whatever you want to call it). I know the litmag you’re referring to and they seem to send the same letters either with or without the “The story was well done, but not quite right for us.” Interestingly, when they leave that line out, there’s a tell-tale gap between the two paragraphs.

    And huge congrats on the reprint of The-Story-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named! I love that one and can’t wait to hear it done by the folks I think are about to do it.

    As for my December, I had a quick acceptance early on, a few rejections, and not much else — I’ve slowed down on flash and short subs while I perform major surgery on La Novel.

    • That’s a very sound theory for Rejection #2, and, I think, more likely than a personal rejection.

      Yeah, pretty excited about the acceptance and the format. That’ll be fun.

      Your December sounds peachy. Any month with an acceptance is a good one in my book. 😉

  2. Congrats on the pro acceptance!

    I’m sure you’ve heard that the way to ingrain a behavior is by providing inconsistent rewards. I feel like that’s what this whole publishing game is sometimes. Nothing, nothing, nothing, PELLET!, let’s keep pushing that lever.

    As for me, some rejections and a stealth acceptance that I think I got because no one else submitted fiction for the month. A flash horror I’d submitted to a semi-pro paying kicked me out after 31 days. They kicked out quite a few others who had submitted after me in 3 – 6 days, so I will take it as a minor victory.

    • Thanks. I like your theory on ingrained behavior. I certainly feel like a rat in a cage at times. 😉

      If a publication known for quick rejections holds on to your story for quite a while, then it’s sometimes fair to assume the submission was more carefully considered. So, yeah, take that as a minor victory. 🙂

  3. That one acceptance does make all the other rejections worthwhile! I can’t wait to hear your short story (I’m unfortunately not familiar with it).

    December as been silent for me. I was expecting a response from a magazine regarding a submission sent in June, but that hasn’t come yet. I’m feeling the silence blues. I’d prefer rejections over this silence.

    Enjoy the rest of 2015!

    • Acceptances definitely take the sting out of rejections for a while. I figure I’ll be riding the high on this one until mid-January. 😉

      Have you tried simultaneous submissions? It’s a good way to get a bunch of submissions out, even if you don’t have a huge stockpile of finished stories. It’ll break the silence; that’s for sure. 😉

      • For some of the things I’ve submitted, it’s really hard to find a market, so simultaneous submissions aren’t always an option…

        For example, I have a small themed portfolio of photos, and barely any literary magazines accept more than three or four.

      • Oh, I was unaware you were submitting photography as well. That’s really cool, although I know next to nothing about that market.

  4. Don’t stop counting before the month ends. This morning I received my sixth acceptance for December. (I’ve also received three rejections so far this month, but why dwell.)

    Here’s hoping next year brings more acceptances and fewer rejections for all of us!

    • I’ve got an outside shot at one more acceptance or rejection in the next day, but that market is pretty slow, so I’m not expecting anything else until the new year.

      Congrats on your six acceptances, by the way. Any month where the acceptances outnumber the rejections by a factor of two to one is a pretty damn good month, I’d say. 😉

      And I second a 2016 filled with more success for all my writer pals.

  5. Who was it that suggested not to stop counting before the month end? Another acceptance–my seventh of the month–arrived this afternoon, and this note from the editor is the reason one should promptly respond to editors:

    “I had an acquisition go unresponsive. I’ve given it 7 days, but need to move forward with production. I’d like to acquire your manuscript, [title], for the March edition of [magazine]. Contract attached.”

    Was my story the best ever written? Probably not. But, it was publishable and the right length when the editor found it in the slush pile during her last-minute search for a replacement.

    • Nice!

      Yep, I’m a big proponent of responding promptly to editors, even same-day if its appropriate. Having been on the other side of that coin, I am well aware unresponsive authors do not make good impressions.

      Even if it isn’t your best story (and I’m willing to bet it’s still pretty damn good), it’s another mark in the win column and not a bad way to close out the year, you know, assuming your eighth acceptance doesn’t roll in tomorrow. 😉

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