I’ll be the first to admit, I hate rejections. It’s a necessary evil when you’re a fiction writer, well, unless you’re just that good. I’m not, so rejections are, in a way, my badge of honor. Some writers never submit for fear of rejection. I submit in fear and take pride in the rejection because it means at least I tried. Granted an acceptance would be a helluva lot better, but, well, this blog is about rejections.
Anyway, there are several types of rejections. Well, two really. The form rejection. That’s the impersonal “Thanks, not for us” kind of reply. Those often make you wonder if they even read it. I know they did, and I understand they probably receive dozens of submissions daily. Some top markets probably receive thousands a month. So they have to develop a process in which they quickly read the submission, and just as quickly make a determination. Then they send the form rejection. They aren’t being mean, they just don’t have the time.
Then there is the personal rejection. And here I mean the helpful rejection. Not the personal insulting one, such as, “We are sending you this rejection because you live too far away for us to come over and smash your computer to bits to stop you from abusing any further fiction markets.” The personal comments that feel like the editor put his arm around your shoulder and said, “I like you, kid, you show promise.”
Today I received just such a rejection and at first I was disappointed. After all, the second line said, “We have reviewed the story and decided not to purchase it.” So at that point I felt the punch in the gut, but then they went on to describe what they did like about it, where it fell flat, and offered a few editing suggestions that also might make it stronger.
In other words, they took the time to reach out to me, the person, and offer their opinion on how to improve the story.
Ultimately, it was still a rejection, but knowing they took the time from their busy schedule to jot down a few notes on what they thought about the story took the sting out of the rejection.
Because of that, I’ll mark them down on my spreadsheet as a favorite market and they’ll be getting more of my work.
Maybe, in the end, they’ll regret they didn’t just send a form rejection.
But for now, I have to take their comments and try to make my story better.