The Rejection Archives: Rejection #7

Got another rejection from the vault to share with you. This is the seventh rejection I received after I started seriously tracking my submissions through Duotrope. Let’s have a look.

Rejection Number: 7
Story Sent: 2/2/2013
Rejection Received: 2/21/2013
Rejection Type: Personal Rejection

Aeryn,

Thanks for letting us see [story title].  I regret to say that it’s not right for [publisher].

I loved the incredible vividness of this story, and thought the ending was rather awesome.  [Redacted detail about the story] However, the long digressions into [theme of story], while interesting and well written, really slowed the pace for me.  It ended up feeling like there was too much internal monologue for the bit of action the story provided.

Best of luck with this in other markets.

Regards,*

This was one of the first detailed personal rejections I received when I got serious about submitting short fiction. The editor kindly explains exactly what their issue with the story was. I also liked how they included qualifiers like “for me” rather than using imperative statements. Though I did not change the story based on this feedback, it does NOT mean the editor was wrong. It means my story was not a good fit for this market and this editor. I went on to sell this story to another publisher shortly after this rejection. Again, I am not trying to show this editor was wrong for rejecting my story. Instead, this is a good example that a rejection from one market absolutely does not mean it won’t sell elsewhere. These kinds of rejections can also be very informative, and I managed to sell a story to this particular market the following year, partly because the feedback here gave me a good idea of what they might like.

*You’ll notice I pulled some details out of this rejection. I did that because it would give away which story I’m talking about and possibly identify the publisher. That’s something I always try to avoid.


Thoughts on this rejection or this type of rejection? Tell me about it in the comments.

Also, check out the first post in this series below:

The Rejection Archives: Rejection #1

The Rejection Archives: Rejection #1

Something new on the ol’ blog today. I thought it might be fun to go through my extensive archive of rejections and share a few with you on a weekly basis. So let’s crack open the vault and have a look at some no’s, not for us’s, and we’re gonna pass’s.

Today I have the very first rejection I received in what I call the “Duotrope Era,” basically when I started seriously tracking my submissions.

Rejection Number: 1
Story Sent: 4/16/2012
Rejection Received: 5/5/2012
Rejection Type: Common Form Rejection

Thank you for submitting your story, [Story Title], to [Publisher]. Unfortunately, we have decided not to publish it. To date, we have reviewed many strong stories that we did not take. Either the fit was wrong or we’d just taken tales with a similar theme or any of a half dozen other reasons.

Best success selling this story elsewhere.

This is a pretty standard form rejection, but I like that the publishers lists some reasons why you’re story might have been rejected. As standard form rejections go, it’s a good one: polite, encouraging, and to the point. The publisher still uses this form rejection–I got one a few months back. If it ain’t broke, and all that. If you submit work in the same genres I do, you’ve likely seen this rejection a time or two.

The interesting thing about this rejection is when I received it, I hadn’t done much in the way of consistent story submissions, so despite this being a common form rejection, it stung. You see, I hadn’t developed that thick rejectomancer hide yet, and, like many authors, I read all kinds of things into this simple rejection. In the years since I’ve learned not to do that, that rejections are not personal, and the best medicine is to get back to work and submit the story somewhere else. Now I take rejections like this in stride because I know even if this publisher didn’t like the story, another might.


Thoughts on this rejection or this type of rejection? Tell me about it in the comments.

Submission Statement: January 2019

Well, here we are, one full month into the new year, so let’s see how 2019 is treating me so far.

January 2019 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 9
  • Rejections: 7
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 2

Nine submissions isn’t bad, and it puts me on pace for my 100-submission goal. Seven rejections is pretty average, and a lot of these were for submissions I sent in 2018. One acceptance and a couple of publications round out a decent month.

Rejections

Seven rejections for January.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 3
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 2
  • Personal Rejections: 2

Both personal rejections were for the same story, and one of them was a short list rejection. Those are always a little tough. You know you got close, just not close enough.

Spotlight Rejection

The spotlight rejection this month is one of the personal rejections.

Dear Mr. Rudel,

[Story Title] is a very good story, but unfortunately, it doesn’t quite match our needs for [upcoming] issues. I hope you find a good home for it elsewhere.

What I want to highlight here is something I talk about a lot–writing a good story is only one part of the equation (and important part to be sure) that gets you an acceptance. As the editor states here, sometimes a “very good” story does not get accepted because it just doesn’t fit the content needs of the publisher. There are, of course, many reasons that might be. The voice or style could be a little off for the market, or maybe the story doesn’t match up with stories they’ve already accepted for upcoming issues, or maybe they’ve recently published a story that’s similar, or maybe a dozen other perfectly valid reasons. The point is don’t take these kinds of rejections too hard, but do take the editor at their word and send that story somewhere else.

Acceptances

One acceptance this month from a market new to me. The story “The Sitting Room” is a reprint, and it’s one of the few pieces I’ve written that does not have a supernatural element. You can check it out under publications below.

Publications

Two publications in January, both reprints, both free to read online.

“The Sitting Room”

Published by Mystery Tribune (free to read)

“The Rarest Cut

Published by EllipsisZine (free to read)


And that was my January. Tell me about yours.

Let’s Play Rejection Bingo

Today we’re returning to rejections, but we’re gonna have a little fun with it. If you’ve been submitting your work for any length of time, you’ve likely accumulated a bunch of form rejections, and you’ve no doubt recognized common phrases that appear in these rejections. So let’s play a little game, and see how long it takes to get a Rejection Bingo!

Before we get started, a little disclaimer/info. Editors use these phrases because they send out a lot of rejections, and they need a boilerplate template to save time. That’s a good thing because it generally means every writer gets a response to their submission. Plus, honestly, these phrases often are a good and gentle way to communicate the no. Keep in mind a boilerplate rejection does NOT mean the editor is not being sincere or they didn’t like the story. In fact, some of the phrases below often indicate a higher-tier rejection and/or even a short-list rejection.

Okay, with that out of the way, here’s the card (in standard manuscript format, of course). The card has 25 common form rejections phrases, so over the next week or month or whatever see if you can get a Rejection Bingo. Feel free to fudge the phrases a bit. For example, if you get a rejection that says “Elected not to publish,” go ahead and count that as a “Decided not to publish.” This is just for fun, after all. Finally, yes, it is absolutely possible to fill up more than one space on the card with a single rejection. In fact, I have one old rejection that would almost get me a bingo all by itself. 🙂


Did I miss any good/common phrases for my rejection bingo card? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll consider an edit.

A Week of Writing: 1/7/19 to 1/13/19

Another week of writing come and gone. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

This week’ quotes comes from Ernest Hemingway.

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.”

– Ernest Hemingway

What I like about this quote is that finishing can mean different things to different writers. For example, I can finish a first draft no sweat. For me that’s a simple act of following the outline and putting one word after another. Same with the initial revision. I can take a pretty objective approach to my revisions, set a goal, and then get it done. My struggle is with the type of finishing that means someone else has to read the novel. That could be my critique partners or more recently, my agent. Because at that point, finishing means the work is going to be judged, and I will very likely have to make some hard decisions. I’m at the point now, and though I’ve done what I needed to do, letting go of the book was not easy.

The Novel

Late Risers is done-ish. What I mean is I revised the book to a place where it was ready for my agent to look at it. I spent last week finishing one more revisions, and then I sent the manuscript to my agent yesterday morning. As I alluded to in Word to Write By, this was not easy. In fact, it might be the most acute “submission anxiety” I’ve ever experienced. I expect to be making more revisions based on my agent’s feedback, but waiting to hear back from him is going to be a nerve-wracking in the extreme. So, what to do?

Instead of obsessing on a novel that’s no longer within my control, I’m going to work on another novel. It’s one I started last year and manged to get 30,000 words into it before I switched gears to the current novel. Now I’ll go back and finish the first draft, and it will be my next big project, and hopefully, the next manuscript my agent reads.

Short Stories

Got a few submissions out last week. Nothing earth-shattering, but still positive yardage.

  • Submissions Sent: 3
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 1
  • Shortlist: 0

All three submissions were to the same publisher, and the rejection came from a pro-market I’ve been trying to crack for years. One publication last week, which you can check out below.

The Blog

Just the one blog post last week.

1/7/19: A Week of Writing: 12/31/18 to 1/6/19

My weekly writing update.

Goals

With Late Risers as done as I can get it, I’ll move on to finishing the first draft of another novel. I also need to write/edit some short stories to get my submission rate up.

Story Spotlight

The story spotlight is “The Sitting Room,” a reprint published by Mystery Tribune last week. It’s definitely one of my darker pieces of flash, and it originally appeared in The Molotov Cocktail’s FlashFelon contest. You can read it by clicking the link below.

Read “The Sitting Room


How was your writing week?

A Week of Writing: 12/31/2018 to 1/6/2019

The first week of 2019 is in the books. Let’s see how I did.

Words to Write By

This week, it’s another of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing. This is #9.

“Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.”

– Elmore Leonard

This one might rankle some folks, especially those with the ability to write gorgeous prose that, honestly, I lack. With that in mind, I think it’s important to view Elmore Leonard’s rules as rules for a particular style. In fact, he said as much about his famous list:

“These are rules I’ve picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.”

So, rule number nine (and rule number eight, which is the same rule just about characters), resonates with me because it fits my style. I am largely trying to be invisible when I write a story, and I try to use a spare style to show instead of tell. It also lets me focus on things I’m better at (like dialogue) and minimize things I’m not so good at (describing people, places, and things). I do agree that Leonard’s rules can be useful to any writer, but there are certainly writers who flaunt many or even all these rules and are doing just fine.

The Novel

Almost there. I had meant to turn my novel Late Risers over to my agent at the end of the year, but I didn’t quite make it. I’m very close now, and I should be finished this week. I have a few more plot knots to untangle, but they’re not too scary, and I just have to dive in and write them into submission. Anyway, I dearly hope my next update will be that the novel is off my desk and that I’m waiting, terrified, for my agent to pronounce judgment on the manuscript.

Short Stories

Getting off to a bit of a slow start on the submission front for 2019, but it should pick up this week.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 2
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Both rejections were for stories submitted in 2018. I received my third rejection and sent my third submission for the year this morning. I’m shooting for 100 submissions for the year again. That’s roughly two a week, and, so far, I’m on pace.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

1/2/19: 2018 Review: Writing by the Numbers

In this post I reviewed my writing endeavors for that last year with lots of stats and a healthy dose of rejectomancy.

1/4/19: 100 Rejections: Achievement Unlocked

An in-depth look at the 100 rejections I received in 2018. Lots of rejectomancy here.

Goals

Same goal. Finish the final revision of Late Risers, get it off my desk and to my agent.

Story Spotlight

One of my favorite publishers, Pseudopod, recently updated their list of recommended stories for new listeners. I am very pleased to report that my baseball vampire story “Night Games” is now one of those recommended stories. You can check out and listen to the recommended list by clicking the link above or listen to “Night Games” by clicking the link below.

Listen to “Night Games


That was my week. How was yours?

100 Rejections: Achievement Unlocked

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 🙂