Friday, January 07, 2011

Rejection..The New Pragmatism

With the new year comes new opportunities...and some rejections, but such is the life of a writer.

I recently had a discussion with some other folk about rejection, something people should expect to receive more of as the number of publishing venues shrinks. The discussion trended toward...

1) What was the fastest you've ever been rejected (my own self? Three days..fastest acceptance? A few hours.)
2) What was the most frustrating rejection? (One friend received someone else's form letter)
3) What was the most encouraging? (When I was twenty, I sent a short story to the New Yorker and received a personalized, several paragraph hand-written response).

Mostly, when I've had a story returned and thought about it, I tend to find something to change, or I realize I should have done a better job researching the market and meeting the editorial needs. I've also had the opportunity to talk to editors and hear their stories about psychotic writers, but I'll let others speak to that.

9 comments:

Lee Thompson said...

The rejections definitely make the acceptances sweeter. :)

Christine Purcell said...

My fastes rejection and acceptance were both around the 24 hour mark.

It's so funny you mentioned the New Yorker. I got a personalized rejection from them too. It was very exciting. They must have nice people working there.

Charles Gramlich said...

I got one of those nasty, knife in the gut rejections last night. They used words like "gimmick," "contrived," and "telegraphed." OUCH.

Steve Buchheit said...

Fastest rejection, 3 hours. Nastiest and most hopeful hit in the same one. "This is a good story and well written, it would fit nicely in (the anthology), but I don't have room for it." Actually, I do happen to like the editor that sent that.

David J. West said...

I don't know if I have been lucky (which I don't particularly believe in luck) but I have managed thus far to have pretty positive rejections most of the time.

Either "this was very good but not quite what we are looking for, keep sending it along" or "you were in the final round-good luck keep submitting"
That last one from Innsmouth for the Historical Lovecraft made me rather pleased.

I have yet to recieve anything so harsh as Charles did.

My fastest, most pleasing acceptanace was for my novel and that was about a week.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Lee, acceptances make everything sweeter. Have you ever had something accepted, been paid for it, and then not seen it published?

Christine, I think I am in love with the New Yorker staff. They must have hired someone just to do those rejection letters. Someone with cookies and an argyle sweater.

Charles, that's cold. At least they didn't use the phrase "trite." That would have been the last straw.

Steve, when you like an editor, it is easier, isn't it.

David, I was rejected by Historical Lovecraft as well. Sigh. But now it means I have a story to reread and send around to some other folk.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Fastest (24 hours) and Funniest rejection was from White Wolf Games. They told me that I wrote well but my approach was 'too lighthearted' for them. These are the guys that published Vampire and Werewolf RPGs, though I was actually submitting for a sword and sorcery project.

Glynis said...

Two hours! Two hours was the fastest rejection I received for one ms. The other agents took a few days. All were lovely and pleasant no thanks.

It's OK, I got the book and the rejections out of my system. I self-published this week. It is a simple children's book and it was only written with future Grandchildren in mind.

Now I can concentrate on the big rejections for my Historicals. ;0

AvDB said...

My fastest rejection was probably under an hour via email.

My best rejection was back when I was twenty, via a personal letter from the children's editor at Harper Collins. I was too young to understand how good a rejection it was and shelved it immediately in humiliation. Dumb, dumb kid.