Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes
I’ve seen this done a lot all over the internet. A person gets a rejection, one single rejection, and suddenly feels the need to post the rejected story online. This person treats this rejection as a big deal, an earth-shattering thing, and then suddenly feels like it’s absolutely okay to post said story for people to read it because clearly there aren’t hundreds of other magazines out there said story can be subbed to.
When I subbed short stories back in my short story day, I expected rejection so much that receiving a rejection never even stung. I was so informed about the industry that I knew I was supposed to expect a lot of rejections before finally receiving an acceptance. Sometimes you get lucky and may not need to suffer through a lot of rejections, and sometimes you just haven’t found the right place yet that will fall in love with what you’ve written. Sometimes you’re not rejected because of how bad your writing is but because the editor doesn’t have a taste for what you’ve written. And sometimes you are rejected because of how bad your writing is, but you shouldn’t give up after one rejection and suddenly think it’s okay to post that story online. That’s admitting defeat.
Now I know some magazines are afraid to take on pieces that have been published on blogs because those pieces could potentially have been stolen from the time the author pressed ‘Publish’ to the time the author decided to delete it. As someone who has a literary magazine, I’m not so nervous about that because it’s rare. I’ve done it only once, where I read an amazing story on someone’s blog and really wanted it in my magazine, but, for the most part, I only accept stories that haven’t been published anywhere else, blogs included. It’s the principle of having original work that no one else has seen yet that makes it thrilling to publish it.
Expect rejection, especially with novels. I know someone who was discouraged after receiving ten rejections and I had to be the one to give her a reality check by telling her that authors can expect to receive 50-100 rejections on average before landing an acceptance with either an agent or editor. The market is flooded, and agents and editors have to be really choosy about which authors they take on–not to mention that they have to make money, and choosing an author who doesn’t sell can make them lose money. It’s not easy. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. But it’s the nature of the industry. If you don’t want to suffer through the rejections, self-publishing is always an option; keep in mind though that this route isn’t any easier–you just bypass the rejection route and the ironclad gates of agents and editors.
I don’t really have any solid advice on how to make rejection easier. Rejection was easy for me because it’s what I expected. I loved my stories enough to give them a chance, even if that meant suffering through tons of rejection letters to find homes for them. Most of them were impersonal letters anyway, though I did receive one that was very personal. But I rolled my eyes at that one because it was an unprofessional personal letter, and the letter said more about the editor than it did about my story.