In life, in work and in writing, we face a number of hurdles to overcome. Coming up with the idea for a story, writing it, infusing it with emotion, and then revising it until it shines – all that is challenging enough. But finishing a story is just the beginning, the first step in the route of publications. Then comes researching markets appropriate to the story, hunting down the submission guidelines and masthead, and then the act of sending out the story with a decent cover letter.
And then come the rejections. It’s a rare piece of work that bags an acceptance in its first outing, and I can think of only one example as of now – my story White Piping in On the Premises. I wrote that story explicitly for the themed competition, and did not send it anywhere else except the intended venue. I got an acceptance within about ten days of dispatching my entry.
But for the most part, a majority of the stories acquire multiple rejections, maybe ten or more, before getting picked up and finding a suitable home. Ten is a purely arbitrary number here, but I’m citing it just to show the sheer efforts that go into matching the story with the appropriate market.
Its important to note however that the rejection is not personal, even though it may feel like it. We pour a lot into our work, and no matter how the letter is worded or feedback is given, it feels like a truck load of hot oil poured on our worthy ambitions. But an experienced writer once mentioned to me that submission is a numbers game, and the more we submit, we increase our chances of acceptance. An added benefit – we also become attuned to the rejections that land in our inbox.
In 2020, I received 234 rejections. About 50 of these were for work submitted in 2019. But I also got 15 acceptances. This means my acceptance rate is around 5%, and I should work on improving it further. However, I also got published in venues I never expected to, and a few personal rejections that set my pulse racing.
What’s your take on rejections? Any advice or resources you would like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!