Accepting the Unacceptance

I’ve had a good year for acceptances, and I’m up to an even dozen so far. But, as they say, in every life a little rain must fall, and one of those acceptances is, well, not an acceptance anymore. Let me explain.

Earlier this year I received an acceptance for a story with a promise of publication in around three months. When I didn’t hear from the publisher by the end of that period, I sent them an email asking for a status update. Then I checked their website and discovered it had disappeared. I followed up by checking Duotrope and learned they’d been marked as “Permanently Closed.” I waited a month to see if they’d respond to my email. They didn’t, so I sent the following withdrawal letter (more or less).

Dear [publisher]

It appears [market] has closed and is no longer publishing fiction. At this time, I’d like to withdraw my story [story title].

[personal note]


Aeryn Rudel

Did I have to send a withdrawal letter? Probably not, but as I’ve said before in these circumstances, you don’t know what’s happening on the other side of that email. No publisher wants to go under, and though I would have preferred notification that my story would not be published, I also understand this is not personal. It’s just the fallout from what is certainly a bad situation for everyone. I sent this letter because I want to submit the story elsewhere, and if the publisher were to start up again, I don’t want there to be any confusion on that point. I also included a personal note thanking the publisher for accepting the story and expressing my condolences the market would no longer be publishing.

After comparing notes with Michael Bracken, an author whose knowledge on the subjects of submissions and rejections far exceeds my own, he called this an example of the unacceptance. If you’d like to learn more about that particular phenomenon, Michael was kind enough to write a guest post about it a while back. You can find that post right here: The Unacceptance Letter by Michael Bracken.

Do you have any experience with the unacceptance? Tell me about it in the comments.

2 Comments on “Accepting the Unacceptance

  1. A few years ago, a journal accepted one of my pieces for a special issue. For eight months, I waited, but the special issue never came out. They also stopped publishing their regular monthly issues, too. (At the time, I didn’t have Duotrope, so I had no idea whether they were on hiatus or defunct.) I finally withdrew the piece. I later found out that the editor/publisher was ill, which is why he stopped running the journal. He passed away about a year later. The journal is now defunct. As far as the piece, I got some great personal feedback from another journal, but I kind of lost interest in it, so I haven’t done anything with it since then.

    • Excellent comment. I think this is a great example of why authors shouldn’t take these things personally. Just withdraw your story and move on. Like I said, you don’t know what’s happening on the other side of that email, and chances are it’s a lot worse than you losing an acceptance.

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