I wrote that title as much for you as for me. Rejection letters, especially those form letters that really don’t tell us why, are probably one of the hardest parts of this gig. It’s hard not to take it personally. It’s not easy to remind yourself, we just have to get our story in front of the right person, at the right time, with just what they’re looking for. How do we know what that is, though, when all they say is “It’s not right for us at this time.” Not the right what?
Anyway, I recently submitted to three big fantasy magazines. And I mean big, like the names of huge authors in the title of the magazine, and got three rejections in a weekend. Yah, you read that right. Magazines that typically take weeks, or months, to respond got back to me in hours. One I could understand, they were closing submissions very soon and going through all the slush pile. They got back to me in 12 hours. The next one, took about 12 hours too. Then I submitted one more time and had a response in less than 4! How bad must this story be? Can’t we give my ego (such as it is) a little break, maybe hold onto that email for a week?
So I gave myself a break from submissions and finished a piece I was working on for an artist. A rough character sketch and intro, not even edited, just roughed together to get his thoughts, and sent it off last night. This morning…he loved it! Literally, his words. No edits, barely first draft material, and he loved it. I’m not ashamed to admit, that brought a little mistiness to the eyes. I don’t have a huge ego, and I really don’t let rejections get to me that much, but it’s impossible not to dwell on it a little. That boost was huge.
The point, right, get to the point. One important thing that a lot of writers do, and I definitely do, is keep those rejections. No matter how sterile, or short they are, keep them. I remember hearing Vince Flynn talk about how many times he was rejected. Something like 60 rejections for his first book, and he didn’t get a publishing deal for his first book, he self-published. Later he got a deal, and the publisher went back and re-printed his first book. That’s a perfect example, his first book just wasn’t right for 60 different places, agents, and publishers, but one of his later books was. Even with his short career, he published eighteen books. Who knows how many more he would have put out.
Keep at it, keep submitting. Keep sending those queries, and manuscripts, short stories and cover letters. Those rejections are tough, but they don’t have to be the end of your story.