Multiple Rejections in a Single Day?! Why & What To Do

Well, here’s a topic I haven’t discussed in over five years, which is weird because I certainly have had occasion to discuss it many times. Recently, in fact. I’m talking about the multi-rejection day. That moment when the stars align and rejections rain down from the heavens to crush your meager writing dreams to flaming wreckage. I’m being dramatic, but getting two, three, or even more rejections on the same day can be pretty disheartening. So let’s talk about why it happens and what to do when it happens.

It might seem like all the editors in the world are out to get you when you receive multiple rejections on the same day, but I promise that’s not the case. In my experience, the multi-rejection day arises from three things, all of which are fine on their own but occasionally work together in unfortuitous ways.

  1. You send out a lot of submissions. The simple truth is the more submissions you send, the more rejection you’ll get (more acceptances too). If you’re like me, and you always have eight or more submissions pending, rejections are pretty constant, and it’s not exactly surprising that some might show up on the same day.
  2. You submit to tough markets. If you’re sending stories to the top-rated, pro markets–I’m talking about the places with sub-one-percent acceptance rates–then, you my friend, are going to get a lot of rejections. Of course, breaking through with one of these markets is the sweetest of the sweet, but it can take a while. So if you’re sending a lot of submissions AND sending them to tough markets, you’re greatly increasing the chances of getting two or more rejection on the same day. It’s just a fact.
  3. Dumb luck. As I said, it might seem like all the editors got together and decided to send rejections on the same day, but, of course, that’s not a thing. Editors send responses to submissions on their own timelines. Sometimes, one editor or three might coincidentally share the same timeline. It happens, especially when markets have similar submission windows. To sum up here, when you send a lot of submissions to tough markets and sprinkle in a little adverse luck, well, the multi-rejection day is inevitable.

Okay, so that’s how the multi-rejection day happens, now what should you do about it? I have some thoughts. Some are do as I say and not as I sometimes do, of course, but they are what I try to do.

  1. Don’t read into it. Getting three rejections in a day is no different than getting those same rejections over the course of a week or a month. They mean the exact same thing. Our fumbling human brains will attempt to see meaning and patterns where there aren’t any, and such is the case here. I’m not saying it’s easy to get a bunch of rejections on the same day–it most certainly isn’t–but one of the best things you can do is maintain some perspective. Like one rejection, three rejections don’t necessarily mean bad story or bad writer. It generally means bad fit and/or bad timing. Just, you know, times two or three or four or whatever. 🙂
  2. A little help from your friends. No one understands the trials and tribulations that writers go through more than other writers. Reach out to your writing friends, commiserate, get a little sympathy. It helps. It really does. We all need the occasional life preserver on the stormy literary seas. Let someone throw you one, and be there when they need one in return.
  3. Take a break (or don’t). This goes for dealing with any setback in submission land, but sometimes it helps to do something unrelated to writing, as difficult as that may be. For me, exercise usually does the trick. That combination of endorphins and “accomplishing” something is often the cocktail of positive input I need. Of course, sometimes it’s best to get back on that horse and send those stories out the door right away. I do that a lot too. Recently, I did both, and the hybrid approach was effective.

So there you go; the why’s and what to do’s for the multi-rejection day. How do you deal with the event, and if you feel like sharing, what’s the most rejections you’ve received in a single day?

5 Comments on “Multiple Rejections in a Single Day?! Why & What To Do

  1. Did you say how many you’ve had in one day? I think my record is three. I didn’t lose sleep over it. In fact, I think I laughed.

    • Hah! I actually didn’t. Kind of an oversight there. 🙂

      It’s definitely at least three, but it might be four. Need to check my records.

  2. My current record is eight rejections in a single day.

    I disagree with what you said in 1.Don’t read into it. I believe that receiving multiple rejections in a day is way worse than having the letters scattered throughout the month, and the reason why has to do with what you said in 3: it’s hormones. A lot of rejections will burn you out. Thank God I was in a good mood that day and didn’t feel the hits.

    • Oh, I’m not arguing that it doesn’t FEEL worse. It certainly does. My point is simply that a bunch of rejections on the same day doesn’t MEAN anything worse. The fact they showed up all at once is just the random whims of fate not any additional commentary on your writing. That make sense?

      • Oh yes, that does make sense!

        And by reading it again, I see that that’s what you actually meant all the time!

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