I often talk about rejection on this blog. I mean, hell, it’s called rejectomancy, but I think acceptances can shed some light on how we as authors can and should deal with rejection. So lets look at the path one of my stories took from first draft to acceptance. How long did it take? How many times was it rejected? And, more importantly, what does it mean, if anything?
Well, the first thing you gotta do with a story is, you know, write it. This particular piece was written in response to an open call from Flame Tree Publishing for their newsletter. They publish two flash pieces per newsletter with a wide array of sci-fi, horror, and mystery prompts. This particular prompt was memento mori. An idea came to be pretty quick, and I dashed off a 1,000-word tale. I liked what I had, I thought it fit the theme, an since I’ve been published in the newsletter a couple of times before, I thought I had a decent shot. .
As with all my new stories, I sent this one to my critique partners for an in-depth review. I got some excellent notes and revised the story accordingly. I don’t remember the revision being particularly in-depth. Just a few minor plot points to shore up. After the revisions, I proofread the piece, formatted it, and got it read for submission. I started the story on 7/20/21 and I had a submittable draft on 8/6/21. As you’ll see below, I didn’t waste any time.
I submitted the story to the Flame Tree Publishing newsletter on 8/6/2021. It was rejected on 9/1/2021. Now, this is not surprising. The Flame Tree newsletter gets a lot of submissions for a grand total of two slots, so you’re up against some pretty stiff competition. Still, I thought I had a pretty good story on my hands, so I started looking for other places to send it. The second submission was to a new semi-pro market, one I knew nothing about. They paid a decent rate and looked like a professional outfit. I submitted there on 9/8/21 and was rejected on 9/21/21. Strike two! I set my sights a bit higher for the next submission and sent the story to a pro market on 9/29/21, and it made it all the way to the final round of consideration but was ultimately rejected on 10/31/21 with a very nice personal note. Galvanized by my close but no cigar, I sent the story to another pro market on 11/7/21. Unfortunately, they were less enthused about the tale and rejected it with a form letter on 11/24/21. Still, I had high hopes for the story, so I sent it to another pro market on 12/20/21. The months passed, I sent out other submissions, celebrated a new year, and then, a few days ago, on 3/8/22, I received an acceptance. Yay, happy ending.
Ah, the fun part. This story will be published on 3/18/22, and I’ll certainly point all of you at it so you can read it and see which of the five editors who read the story you agree with. 🙂
So, what is there to learn here? A few things. One, I knew this story was pretty good when I finished it. It had a unique take on a familiar theme and premise, and I thought that might fly with some pro publishers. It almost did with one and absolutely did with another. Trust that instinct. It’s not always wrong, and if you have faith in a story, keep sending it out. Second, as you can see, two pro markets and a semi-pro market rejected the story. Editorial taste is a thing, and it can be the difference between acceptance and rejection many times. Even a story I thought was sellable, and it turned out it was, was still rejected four times. Be patient, even good stories get rejected, sometimes a lot more than four times.
Thought on this story’s journey? Care to share an acceptance tale of your own? Tell me about it in the comments.