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The Cycle of Rejection

Rejection is a tough thing.  It is human condition to want to be accepted.  You have poured your heart and soul into a writing project.  You love the characters, the story, the world, and the story is quite possible the greatest thing to ever be printed on paper.   You are feeling on top of the world as you send it off to that first editor (or agent).
That is until you get that “thanks but no thanks” letter in your inbox.  You know the one.  Thank you for sending us your story but we don’t want it.  Ouch!  Nothing sends you crashing back down to Earth faster than that note.  It really sucks, especially when you were sure it was a perfect fit.
But I have a unique perspective on this.  Not only am I writer who has a fair collection of rejection slips.  I’m also the Editor-in-Chief for Plasma Frequency and have had to send out rejection letters.  So I am going to give you a few tips on how to deal with the cycle of rejection and hopefully break free of it.
First, remember every author has been rejected.  I won’t dive into all these inspirational stories of how well known author X was rejected by publication Y and now is on the New York Times Bestsellers List.  But the truth is that every author has received rejection letters for their work at some point.  In fact, some of the biggest names still get them in one way or another.  So just because you got a rejection letter doesn’t mean you’ll never succeed.
Second, realize that rejection of your story is often times a matter of personal opinion.  Over at Plasma Frequency, there are a few stories that are rejected for readability issues (grammar, punctuation, improper story formatting, ect.), but a large part of the rejections come from the simple fact that the editor didn’t like it.   It was boring to them, it was about a topic they don’t care for, or it was simply not right for the magazine.
So keep in mind that just because one editor didn’t like it, doesn’t mean the other editors of the world will hate it.  It means that it wasn’t right for them.  That is all it means.  Don’t read too much into it.  I’ve had to reject some amazing stories just simply because they don’t fit the style of my publication, or they don’t fit in the issue.   Remember editors get hundreds to thousands of submissions a month and they may only publish a small percentage of that each month.
Third, don’t take the rejection personally.  Accept in rare cases, the editor doesn’t know you.  They saw your style, didn’t like it, and rejected the story.  T he story was rejected, not you.  You would be amazed the amount of hostile replies we get to rejection letters.  I’ve had editors called worse names than you can imagine by writers who took the rejection personally.  It is normal to get upset at a rejection, but take a breath.  Maybe vent to a friend or loved one.  But don’t go off on an editor.
In the end they rejected your story on a business decision based on the story.  So don’t think it is personal.
Fourth, don’t over analyze the rejection.  Trying to figure out what the form letter meant and changing it will do nothing but hurt you.  You will spend forever guessing as to why the rejection was made and making changes for no real reason other than to ease your mind.  I know plenty of writers who are stuck in a revision circle and never break out.  They can’t find perfection.
If you are lucky and get a personal rejection with a reason why, remember that it was the editor’s opinion.  If you agree and change it, fine.  But if you just change it because an editor said so, well that is foolish.  Because you’re not sending it back to that editor, you’re sending it to a new one.  And they may have liked it the way it was originally.
Finally, don’t sit on a rejection letter.  The day I get a rejection letter I send my manuscript to the next market.  I never wait longer than a day.  Because a day becomes a week, a week turns to a month, and next thing you know the manuscript never goes anywhere.   If your first choice didn’t work, send it to your second, then your third.  And when you run out of places on your list, make a new list.  With all the markets and publishers out there, there is a home for most stories.
So you see, rejection is a normal part of this business.  But the writers that succeed are the ones that keep at it; those that keep sending out their work until someone says, “I’ll take it.”
Richard Flores IV is a writer of Speculative Fiction living in Vacaville, California. He has had several short stories in publications such as Liquid Imagination Online, Cygnus Journal of Speculative Fiction, and InfectiveInk.com. His novel debut came in October 2012 with Dissolution of Peace, and he hasn't looked back. Richard is the Editor-in-Chief for Plasma Frequency. He fits writing around raising his three young boys, volunteering with the youth soccer league, and watching San Jose Sharks hockey. He also blogs regularly about writing, life, and how the two mix together. For more information about Richard Flores IV, or to contact him, visit: http://floresfactor.com
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1 comment:

  1. It takes a year a more to write a novel. It takes minutes to have your work rejected. This is the most difficult business!

    It is clear that the odds are always against publicaton unless you have great talent and a supportive agent. Sadly, editors and publishers no longer have time to offer constructive or critical feedback.

    In my view, it’s worth joining a writer’s group or online forum in order to share your work and enjoy/learn from readers’ or listeners’ responses.

    ReplyDelete

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