In 2018 I achieved a landmark (for me) literary achievement – 100 rejections in a single year. I know that might sound like a dubious goal. I mean, why would you want to get rejected 100 times? Let me see if I can explain.
- 100 rejections means at a minimum 100 submissions and probably more. In fact, I managed 120 for the year. So, basically, you have to write a lot and submit a lot to accumulate 100 rejections in a year. I did both, and that’s a good thing.
- 100 rejections means you (should) learn quite a bit about the markets you’re submitting to. That definitely happened, and with each rejection, especially the upper-tier and personal varieties, I learned more about what specific markets wanted. That data paid off, and last year I cracked a couple of markets that had rejected me more than ten times prior.
- 100 rejections (should) mean more acceptances. Why? Mostly because of the first two points. The more stories you submit, and the more you learn about the markets you’re submitting to, the better your chance of acceptance. So, yeah, I set a yearly record for rejections, but I also set a yearly record for acceptances at 19.
Okay, those are the broad reasons why I set a goal of 100 rejections, but let me break it down a bit further and really dig into the data.
1) Total Markets: 48
My rejections came from 48 distinct markets, most of which I’ve submitted to before. That said, I did get rejected by 15 new markets, some of which were established this year.
2) Total Stories: 29
I had 29 distinct stories rejected in 2018. I’d say around half were stories I started and finished in 2018. The others were a mix of reprints or stories I’d started or finished in 2017 (or earlier).
3) Form Rejections: 67; Upper Tier Form Rejections: 18; Personal Rejections: 15
So, 67% of my rejections were standard form rejections, which is about what I’d expect from the markets I focused on in 2018 (pro and semi-pro). The upper-tier and personal rejections include three short-list rejections.
4) Most Rejections for a Single Story: 10
That’s a lot, but nowhere near my record (21), and this story is out for submission again. I think the story is one of my better ones, and it’s gotten some decent feedback, so, hopefully, it’ll find a home in 2019.
5) Story with Most Rejections Before Acceptance: 8
The story “When the Lights Go On” is, I think, one of the best pieces of flash fiction I’ve written, and it was responsible for two of the short-list rejections I mentioned above (all from pro markets). So, why did it take so long to get published? It’s just part of the gig. Good stories get rejected all the time, but when you’re making short lists and getting good personal rejections, you gotta keep sending that sucker out because it WILL find a home.
6) Rejected Stories Published: 9
Nine of my 29 rejected stories did go on to get published. This does not count reprints that were published prior to 2018. The average number of rejections for these pieces is 5 (most of those coming in 2018).
7) Most Rejections from a Single Market: 8
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to crack this particular pro market in 2018, but I came close. I did, however, get published by the runner up, who had rejected me 7 times.
That’s how I got to 100 rejections in 2018. I’m gonna shoot for the same goal in 2019. Though I hope it will be harder to hit next year, I want to keep up the same level of production, just with a few more acceptances in the mix. 🙂