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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The truth about rejection

If you send out stories to magazines you'll almost certainly get some rejections. You won't like them, nobody does, but you can get used to them and accept them as simply part of the process, rather than a series of crushing blows. If it's any consolation although I've had hundreds of stories published I too get some rejections.

This is what a rejection means –

That particular story wasn't right for that particular magazine at the time you submitted it.

What a rejection doesn't mean –

You are a rubbish writer.

The story is rubbish.

You won't ever be accepted by that magazine.

I'm not saying you're a great writer, or that your story was good; unless I've read it I can't possibly tell. I'm just pointing out that a standard rejection letter means only that the particular story wasn't right for that particular magazine at the time you submitted it.

Here is some information on rejections from The People's Friend. Although some things will apply to all markets, remember that different magazines have different requirements. What doesn't suit one might be just right for another.

Stories may be rejected because they're the wrong length for the publication, or the wrong style/genre/subject. They may be seasonal and have arrived too late. Perhaps the magazine already have enough stories of that length, or genre, or even enough of all kinds of story for now. Maybe they've recently accepted something similar in style, or with a theme or location in common.

If you receive a personal rejection, or any feedback on your work, especially if there's anything positive in it, or an invitation to submit further work, then you should be encouraged. Editors are far too busy to do this for everyone, so will only spend the time if your work shows real promise.

Have you received any rejections lately? What reasons have you been given for a piece being rejected? Any tips for geting over the sting of rejection?


Simon Whaley said...

Yep. I’ve sold stories in the past to the fery same magazines that originally rejected them. Just shows it’s not always about quality, as we tend to think.

Lindsay said...

I've had only rejections! PF said 2 of mine were too downbeat - both had happy endings! Last one they didn't feel there enough of a story line! Coping with rejections - well yes it's always disappointing but not life threatening. Try again! Reading Simon's comment I've wondered whether I dare resend one of mine - it has been tweaked a bit,

Carolb said...

When I was submitting it was disheartening to get the standard pro-forma rejection letter, especially when years later the same magazine hadn't updated the letter at all. One of my rejected stories eventually found a home, so never give up.

Sharon Haston said...

This is really encouraging Patsy. I receive rejections all the time. Reasons have included outcome too predictable, not quite suitable, characters didn't shine through due to over reliance on plot,story line too weak to hold the reader's interest and the tantalising a near miss. Always gutted when I get a rejection but try to take it in the chin and move on. Am not always successful though!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Like Simon, I've had editors buy a story they've previously rejected. In fact I've had stories rejected by multiple magazines (when we had multiple markets!) only to resubmit to the markets years later and get several sales from the same story here and abroad. If I'm lucky enough to get feedback on a reject and, we all know the DC Thompson editors are very kind where feedback is concerned, I take it and rewrite and resubmit to another market, and as said, occasionally to the original market. As others have said, a story may not be accepted for many reasons, but if you love a story revisit it, rewrite, and resubmit. I've found that for most of my rejections, eventually their time has come and they've found a home. Good wishes. Kate Hogan

L said...

An encouraging post.

carrie said...

I agree with what everyone has said so far. Rejections are hard, but they are a fact of life if you're a writer. Every so often I go thru old stories and sometimes completely rewrite them. I did that with one story - it wasn't anything like it's original first draft! - and sold it! So just goes to show, never give up, listen to advice and to feedback given, and try, try again :)

Patsy said...

@ Simon – I've done the same after a change of editor and usually a bit of a rewrite.

@ Lindsay – If you think you've identified the problem, and are confident you've solved it then it might be worth a try – but if it really only needed a tweak they'd probably have suggested it.

@ Carol. It is disheatrening to keep getting the same response no matter what we try, Carol. Well done for perservering until you got the right answer.

@ Sharon, sometimes they get to us, don't they?

@ Kate – sometimes it's the right story but not the right time – or just need a bit of work to turn a no into a yes.

@ L – thank you. That was my intention.

@ Carrie – I've rewritten some of my earlier stories and improved them enough to sell them. That's very satisfying.