365 Rejections: A Year’s Worth of No

Yesterday I received my 365th rejection since I started tracking my submissions seriously through Duotrope back in 2012. I think that’s kind of a cool milestone, and, well, like the headline says, it’s a whole year’s worth of rejections. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to dig into the numbers and see what 365 rejections looks like. First, let me offer up proof that I’ve actually hit this specific number. Below is a screenshot from my Duotrope account:

I’ve (crudely) circled the important things in red and removed the story and publisher name from my very first rejection through Duotrope way back in May of 2012. Now here are some interesting data point from those 365 rejections.

Unique Stories – 82

I have 82 distinct stories rejected, though a few of these were submitted as flash, rejected, then expanded to longer pieces, and also rejected. I went ahead and lumped those together as one story. Let’s look closer at the numbers on the stories.

Accepted: I managed to sell 41 of the stories in my rejected list. That’s exactly half, and that’s not too shabby. I think this further illustrates a couple of things I say all the time on this blog: selling a story is often about right story, right market, right time and even good stories get rejected. Here you see 41 stories that were rejected at least once (probably a lot more) but eventually sold.

Ten-Spots: Of the 82 stories rejected here, 11 of them were rejected 10 times or more. The good news is that I actually sold 7 of those stories. Again, this further illustrates that rejections are inevitable, even for good stories, even for stories you eventually sell to a pro market.

Unique Markets – 105

I have been rejected by 105 distinct markets. Some of these markets, like The Arcanist and The Molotov Cocktail, run contests as well as accept standard submissions. Those are separate entries in Duotrope, but I counted them as one market. Also, publishers like Flame Tree Publishing that run multiple anthologies I counted as a single market. Let’s look dig deeper into these numbers.

Lots of No: Of the 105 markets I submitted to 11 of them have rejected me more than 10 times. Most of these are top-tier pro markets and hard to crack. That said, I have managed to sell one or more stories to 4 of these markets. I hope to improve that number this year.

Pay: Going off Duotrope’s definitions of pay scale, which divides markets into Professional (.08/word or more), Semi-Pro (.01/word to .07/word), and Token (under .01/word), the markets I submitted to broke down as such.

  • Professional – 44
  • Semi-Pro – 51
  • Token – 10

One small caveat. The definition of professional has changed a few times since I’ve been submitting, mostly based on the SFWA’s recommendation for what should be considered a professional rate. If a market qualified as professional when I submitted a story to it, then I counted it as a “pro” market.

Status: Of the 105 markets that rejected me, 44 of them are not accepting submissions any longer. Duotrope codes these reasons as follows. Closed – The market has permanently shut down.  Believed Defunct – This indicates the publication is believed to be no longer active. DNQ – This indicates the publication does not qualify for a full listing. On Hiatus – This indicates they are closed indefinitely to submissions and may or may not re-open at a later date.

The markets that rejected me that fall under these categories break down like this.

  • Closed – 20
  • Believed Defunct – 6
  • DNQ – 8
  • On Hiatus – 10

In my experience, markets listed as DNQ and a number listed as On Hiatus (but not all) are in truth closed, but they haven’t made any kind of official announcement. I present these numbers simply to illustrate how tough it is to for a short story publisher to make it these days.

More Fun Facts

As you can likely tell, I like data. I find the little nuggets of information you can find in the numbers to be pretty interesting, if not particularly useful. The following bits of lore pulled from my 365 rejections fall into the latter category, but, hey, let’s look at them anyway.

Days of Doom: The most rejections I’ve received in a single day is 4. That surprised me. I thought there would be at least one 5-spot in there, but nope. I’ve done the quad twice, on 10/30/18 and 5/15/19. I’ve done the hat trick (3 rejections) a bunch, seven times to be exact.

Months of Mayhem: There have been six months where I received 10 or more rejections. It feels like there should be more, but the numbers don’t lie. My most rejected month, however, was January of 2018, where I received 15 rejections.


Well, that’s the skinny on my 365 rejections. How are your submission (and rejection) endeavors going. Tell me about it in the comments.

4 thoughts on “365 Rejections: A Year’s Worth of No

  1. At first glance the post’s headline sounds so grim. But once the article’s been digested, the takeaway should be that A) You are one hell of hard-working writer, and B) You successfully place a lot of projects because of this. Oh…and 3) You do like data a lot!

    Reply
    • Yeah, the tite is a little click-baity, I’ll admit. 🙂 I do try to keep things positive, though, and look at all the numbers and whatnot as data that helps me improve, sell more stories, and so on.

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Congratulations to you are in order. My records aren’t as detailed as yours, but from my records in a word file, I see 331 submissions over the last ten years or so with 5 acceptances—and nothing in as high-level markets. (Actually, there are a bunch before that, but it’s not worth digging out old paper records.)

    Again, congratulations and keep up your fine work!

    –JP

    Reply

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