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All Things Rejection! (2 Viewers)

Tiamat

Patron
Ever need to vent, whine, cry, blow off some steam, or just smash your forehead against the keyboard a few times because nobody appreciates your particular brand of genius? I know I do, though genius isn't exactly a word I'd apply to myself or my writing. Either way, I wanted to create a thread to give you (and myself) that chance. Share your rejections here--the bland form rejections, the personal insults, or the close-but-no-cigar rejections.

The most scathing rejection letter I've ever gotten:

"This is utterly unoriginal, isn't it?"

That was from an agent about the first novel I ever wrote. (Turns out, that agent was not wrong, but that didn't keep the words from smarting a bit at the time.)

Today I got the quickest rejection I've ever gotten. A one-day turnaround so I barely had time to get my hopes up. Probs better that way though! It lets me move on more quickly.

What about you? Share your rejections, friends!
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
The most scathing rejection letter I've ever gotten:

"This is utterly unoriginal, isn't it?"

That was from an agent about the first novel I ever wrote. (Turns out, that agent was not wrong, but that didn't keep the words from smarting a bit at the time.

Possibly off-topic but I have to say...that agent is/was a dick-bag and I would consider that a bullet dodged.

Rejections should be either straight up "thanks but no thanks" type stuff or offer feedback. If the latter, that feedback should be something useful to the writer. Otherwise it's just standard troll and deeply unprofessional.

If he/she had said what was 'utterly unoriginal' that would be different, but they didn't. Calling something 'utterly unoriginal' doesn't help the writer in any possible way other than to discourage them and agents should not be in the business of discouraging writers from writing regardless of their feelings about the submission.

So, fuck that guy.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
I also think one-day turnaround rejections are more a reflection of the agent than the writing, a lot of the time. What probably happened is they glanced at your query, immediately saw one or several things that made them certain it wasn't for them, hit the button. It's a straight up "not for me" type thing. They probably didn't even read the actual writing so there's not necessarily an issue. So long as your query has been vetted along with the actual writing, not much you can take away from it.
 

Tiamat

Patron
I also think one-day turnaround rejections are more a reflection of the agent than the writing, a lot of the time. What probably happened is they glanced at your query, immediately saw one or several things that made them certain it wasn't for them, hit the button. It's a straight up "not for me" type thing. They probably didn't even read the actual writing so there's not necessarily an issue. So long as your query has been vetted along with the actual writing, not much you can take away from it.
I definitely wasn't specific in the OP, but in this case, it wasn't an agent. It was a short story market, and it was a personal rejection with thoughts from two readers. I think ultimately it does boil down to "not a good fit" even if their comments were a bit more specific than that. (Don't they all, really? Such a subjective business we work in.) I've found that agents are usually pretty quick to get back to query letters (most of them anyways) but magazine editors can take moooooooonths. Which is why I appreciate the quick turn around on the no thank you here.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
Today I got the quickest rejection I've ever gotten. A one-day turnaround so I barely had time to get my hopes up. Probs better that way though! It lets me move on more quickly.

Was it from Clarkesworld?? They're known for extremely fast declines.

I once received a form rejection from them so quickly, it arrived in my inbox before I even submitted. :beguiled:
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
At the rate I'm going, I'll be getting my first rejections in no time flat. :encouragement:

(I did get a rejection or two several years back in college. Looking back, I'm glad it didn't make it. I think it was written in old english or latin or something.)
 

jenthepen

Staff member
Mentor
I used to submit about 10 articles and stories every week to newspapers and magazines. Since, if I was lucky, I got about 1 story a month accepted, you can imagine how the rejections mounted up. I always appreciated the editors who took the time to critique the work rather than simply sending out those pre-printed rejection slips that sadly made up the bulk of the replies. One rejection I've always remembered with affection, because it made me laugh at my own shortcomings, was a handwritten reply from a UK weekly paper where the editor took the time and trouble to write this :

Thank you for your submission which I read with great interest and some pleasure. However, careful reading of our paper would have furnished you with the fact that we stopped publishing short stories over five years ago.

It was the the most effective rebuke about not doing my homework that I ever received and I never forgot that lesson!
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
Well, one thing is clear here, you guys are at least SUBMITTING your work.... and you obviously have SOMETHING finished... as in completed... that is huge, so congratulations for that.... you are waaaaay ahead of most of us... ;)

and Jen, congratulations on having some of your work accepted, that is something to be proud of...
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Short story submissions is mainly just fishing. Either the story works for them or it doesn't. I have found that most of the time any short story can be published somewhere if you submit it to enough places, it's just a question of whether you do submit it enough before tiring of the process and what that 'somewhere' is. Places that pay are harder, obviously, and places that pay at a decent rate are extremely competitive -- and there aren't that many of them.

A good story submitted to, lets say, 30 different places, will most likely receive an offer from at least one. Sometimes more. One of my stories got four offers, all paid. Imagine the shit-eating grin...

'Most' is the operative phrase, though. Some short stories really are unemployable, unfortunately. That may be because the writing just sucks or it may be that it just doesn't 'fit' into the assumed genre. Some subject matter is difficult to publish. Some things editors just aren't comfortable with.

I have, at this point, four or five short stories that I tried to sell for a long time, ones I believed (and still actually do) that they are good enough; went through the hassle of hundreds of submissions, and eventually gave up, ended up shoving three together into a 'collection' and self-published them because 'why not'. $1 for the 'book'. Self-published sales are next to nothing, I have done no promotion, I knocked them together in a night, but at the end of the day it's either that or have them sit rotting on a hard drive. I don't really care. I published dozens last year on one platform or another so a few duds isn't going to hurt my feelings.

For the most part, I assume rejection on everything I submit, I even try to make myself look forward to getting the rejection. Sounds weird, but it's really just easier that way. You cannot invest emotionally into any given submission. You have to assume the worst or else it gets too stressful. It's not like I don't believe in the supposed 'power of positive thinking' so much as I am more wary of the cancer of discouragement. If you start to believe you aren't a good writer, you find yourself mired by an inability to write. So, everything I submit I assume the agent/editor will simply not find room for on their list, dwell on it no further than that, and get on with the day.
 

Tiamat

Patron
Short story submissions is mainly just fishing.
100% agree with this. I have a literary story that I wrote several years ago. I've subbed it to about a dozen places or so at this point (currently pending at two mags right now), and more than 50% of the time, I get a rejection letter that says they really, really, really considered publishing this one, like really, truly considered it, but ultimately decided not to. To be fair, I'm being picky with this one and only subbing it to markets that pay well. "You were soooo close" is a refreshing break to the form "it just wasn't a good fit for us" types of rejections, but when it happens over and over again, it really starts to wear you down.

That said, I also try to hype myself up for the anticipated rejection as well. I'm certain a psychiatrist would tell me it's not healthy, but that cliché about expecting nothing and never being disappointed has some truth to it.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
100% agree with this. I have a literary story that I wrote several years ago. I've subbed it to about a dozen places or so at this point (currently pending at two mags right now), and more than 50% of the time, I get a rejection letter that says they really, really, really considered publishing this one, like really, truly considered it, but ultimately decided not to. To be fair, I'm being picky with this one and only subbing it to markets that pay well. "You were soooo close" is a refreshing break to the form "it just wasn't a good fit for us" types of rejections, but when it happens over and over again, it really starts to wear you down.

That said, I also try to hype myself up for the anticipated rejection as well. I'm certain a psychiatrist would tell me it's not healthy, but that cliché about expecting nothing and never being disappointed has some truth to it.

I totally relate, but what I found helpful was to basically forget about a story once it's 100% finished. I don't mean literally forget, that's silly, but kind of...move on, I guess?

Once I have completed a story and moved to the submission phase I don't revisit it again (unless on the rare occasion I'm given feedback on a potential issue, then I will) and I move onto other projects. I try to take the view that once it is finished it's no longer really 'my story', that I don't want it anymore and I'm trying to get rid of it. I try to forget how much I might have liked it and separate emotionally from it. It's kind of like, I don't know, selling the leftover crap from a marriage that is over? It becomes totally utilitarian, totally a matter of 'get this OUT'. It's not that I don't love the story anymore so much as I try to make that feeling detached: I still love the story, I'm just not loving it.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
I've got a question since this confused me. I sent this to a new market listing. Here are the pay specifics: 1p (GBP) per word via paypal (approx 1.3c US). This has got to be the wrong number. It's also misleading. I submitted a manuscript to them. I thought they paid well. But the math is wrong. https://wyldblood.com/submissions-2/[FONT=&Verdana]

I am afraid of contacting them. I could withdraw the story if I muster the courage. But as people here can see there is a mathematical miscalculation. According to ralan pay markets web page that is the British pound in pence. I am thinking since my manuscript is over 3641 words it rounds to 47 dollars (I googled elsewhere). Which is not what I wanted. I wanted to submit it for exposure, some decent pay, and a good reputation. 1.3 makes it sound like 1 dollar and 3 cents which doesn't make sense.

As for rejections. The best rejection I got from a professional publication is that it made it to the 3rd round. That same story was rewritten many times. I eventually got the impression it was a good story since Mike Resnick who worked for Galaxy (now closed since he had passed away) when the magazine was running said it was a good story, and they had to be extra picky when choosing their stories. The other magazine I won't mention (but is my favorite place to submit stories based on how much they liked that story). But that's where I made it to the 3rd round. Those are my most encouraging rejections. My worst rejection was encouraging but realistic in that it said the truth. That would be from metamorphosis. I didn't have the language tools or skill sets. I eventually was told it was incoherent. That's not unexpected. Because I wasn't using assistive technology. I rely on text to speech readers. I hope I can use the microphone that I bought so I do have to do less editing. Been waiting for light speed to open for submissions. Unfortunately they are never open. I also tend to get form rejections. The longest I lasted at Clarkesworld was 6 days and it was a form rejection. Í've received comments before this isn't a suitable fit for us at this time.[/FONT]
 
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clark

Staff member
Chief Mentor
I wish I could adopt your pragmatic attitude, luckyscars, but I submit so seldom I'm always thunderstruck when I get that rejection slip. What is the matter with these people? Don't they realize that is one of my cherished ​children they're speaking light and loose about? How dare they, etc etc. (exit left in righteous indignation) .

I really must submit more and develop a thicker skin ...............
 

Bayview

WF Veterans
I've got a question since this confused me. I sent this to a new market listing. Here are the pay specifics: 1p (GBP) per word via paypal (approx 1.3c US). This has got to be the wrong number. It's also misleading. I submitted a manuscript to them. I thought they paid well. But the math is wrong. https://wyldblood.com/submissions-2/[FONT=&Verdana]

I am afraid of contacting them. I could withdraw the story if I muster the courage. But as people here can see there is a mathematical miscalculation. According to ralan pay markets web page that is the British pound in pence. I am thinking since my manuscript is over 3641 words it rounds to 47 dollars (I googled elsewhere). Which is not what I wanted. I wanted to submit it for exposure, some decent pay, and a good reputation. 1.3 makes it sound like 1 dollar and 3 cents which doesn't make sense.

[/FONT]

I don't understand. I think your math is right - a 3600 word MS would earn 36 pounds. But I don't see what's deceptive about what they wrote. It's not "pro rates", but it's in the same BALLPARK as pro rates. I can't imagine a start-up publisher being able to pay 3600 pounds for a very short story!
 

Tiamat

Patron
I've got a question since this confused me. I sent this to a new market listing. Here are the pay specifics: 1p (GBP) per word via paypal (approx 1.3c US). This has got to be the wrong number. It's also misleading. I submitted a manuscript to them. I thought they paid well. But the math is wrong. https://wyldblood.com/submissions-2/[FONT=&Verdana]

I am afraid of contacting them. I could withdraw the story if I muster the courage. But as people here can see there is a mathematical miscalculation. According to ralan pay markets web page that is the British pound in pence. I am thinking since my manuscript is over 3641 words it rounds to 47 dollars (I googled elsewhere). Which is not what I wanted. I wanted to submit it for exposure, some decent pay, and a good reputation. 1.3 makes it sound like 1 dollar and 3 cents which doesn't make sense.

As for rejections. The best rejection I got from a professional publication is that it made it to the 3rd round. That same story was rewritten many times. I eventually got the impression it was a good story since Mike Resnick who worked for Galaxy (now closed since he had passed away) when the magazine was running said it was a good story, and they had to be extra picky when choosing their stories. The other magazine I won't mention (but is my favorite place to submit stories based on how much they liked that story). But that's where I made it to the 3rd round. Those are my most encouraging rejections. My worst rejection was encouraging but realistic in that it said the truth. That would be from metamorphosis. I didn't have the language tools or skill sets. I eventually was told it was incoherent. That's not unexpected. Because I wasn't using assistive technology. I rely on text to speech readers. I hope I can use the microphone that I bought so I do have to do less editing. Been waiting for light speed to open for submissions. Unfortunately they are never open. I also tend to get form rejections. The longest I lasted at Clarkesworld was 6 days and it was a form rejection. Í've received comments before this isn't a suitable fit for us at this time.[/FONT]
Apparently you and I submit to a lot of the same places. I have stories pending to both Wyldblood and Metamorphosis. That said, I didn't reach the same conclusion as you regarding the exchange. When I saw "1.3c US" read that as $0.013 so my 2700-word story would sell for $35.10. I don't think I've ever seen a market pay $1.30 per word, so that may've helped me with the context.

But, if you want to withdraw your submission, I don't see any problem with that whatsoever. Just contact them and say you'd like to withdraw. You don't even have to give a reason if you don't want. It's your story--your intellectual property, if you like--and until you agree to sell it to someone for the terms they're offering, all the rights to it are 100% yours.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Yes it makes sense now putting the math into perspective that it would have been too much money. I was confused since the duotrope page said it was 4-5 cents a word. So I didn't bother to calculate it. Maybe it could be worth it just for exposure.
 

jenthepen

Staff member
Mentor
I wish I could adopt your pragmatic attitude, luckyscars, but I submit so seldom I'm always thunderstruck when I get that rejection slip. What is the matter with these people? Don't they realize that is one of my cherished ​children they're speaking light and loose about? How dare they, etc etc. (exit left in righteous indignation) .

I really must submit more and develop a thicker skin ...............

Don't try to develop a thicker skin, Clark, cherish your self-belief. You just need to swap the indignation for a quiet sadness at their lack of vision. ;) One day they will all recognise your genius (and mine) - just a case of living long enough for the world to catch up, I guess. :)
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
I wish I could adopt your pragmatic attitude, luckyscars, but I submit so seldom I'm always thunderstruck when I get that rejection slip. What is the matter with these people? Don't they realize that is one of my cherished ​children they're speaking light and loose about? How dare they, etc etc. (exit left in righteous indignation) .

I really must submit more and develop a thicker skin ...............

I think submitting more would probably help. Submitting tends to mitigate such feelings, I find, simply by dilution. Its harder to be affected by a single rejection if you still have 20 other submissions out there, you know?

I'm not saying that rejection shouldn't have any effect, only that it shouldn't hurt. It should be motivating, a kind of badge of honor that drives you forward and makes you ask questions about your work rather than pass judgments on yourself.

Sounds counter-intuitive, but if you think of rejection as being completely normal as part of being a writer, that ALL good writers get rejected (which is true), then there's really no reason to be demoralized. This is supposed to happen.

I like to submit in batches immediately -- or as close to immediately as possible -- after the work is completely done. That leaves no time for dwelling: Finish on a Monday, Submit all Tuesday, send out 20-30 (or however many you can tolerate) to whoever is running calls in a single sitting, then on Wednesday...move on to the next thing. If those 20-30 aren't working out, you can have another round of submissions later, but 30 subs for a short story or poem is hopefully sufficient. If it ends in 20-30 "thanks but nah's" then maybe it's time to reevaluate the work at that point and either have another go (with any changes) or just table it.

I've got a question since this confused me. I sent this to a new market listing. Here are the pay specifics: 1p (GBP) per word via paypal (approx 1.3c US). This has got to be the wrong number. It's also misleading. I submitted a manuscript to them. I thought they paid well. But the math is wrong. https://wyldblood.com/submissions-2/[FONT=&Verdana]
[/FONT]
[FONT=&Verdana]

No, 1p per word is a good semi-pro rate. 0.01 x 1,000 words is ten pounds per thousand words. That's about 20-60 GBP per short story. A pro rate is 0.06-0.08 pennies per word (that's USD, so for GBP probably something like 0.4/0.5), which is going to math out at around 100-200 GBP.

I am afraid of contacting them. I could withdraw the story if I muster the courage. But as people here can see there is a mathematical miscalculation. According to ralan pay markets web page that is the British pound in pence. I am thinking since my manuscript is over 3641 words it rounds to 47 dollars (I googled elsewhere). Which is not what I wanted. I wanted to submit it for exposure, some decent pay, and a good reputation. 1.3 makes it sound like 1 dollar and 3 cents which doesn't make sense.

Unfortunately this is why there aren't many rich short-story writers.

If you want to make 'decent pay' writing short stories you need to get into places like the New Yorker consistently enough and then sell a collection. Or, better still, win some prizes. Those typically pay thousands. Not easy, though. Most short story writers make close to zero dollars per story. I've only sold one story at pro rates and it was nice but that's one. All the rest have been, like, $30-60, sometimes royalties (which is more consistent but next to nothing), or $0. C'est la vie. Better to use short stories to build publishing history and develop as a writer IMO.
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Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
As much as I appreciate the advice which has good intentions. I doubt anyone here could get into the new yorker (for reasons unknown to me other than they are prestigious and have a very low acceptance rate and maybe I am not their best candidate. I need to read their issues). What do I see in your advice? I see it as being true that writing a lot will get you a history for reference for future references (which is an empirical observation which I consider valid since I share that opinion). But to me this isn't a big issue. I see myself not having a story in the new yorker anytime soon. Personally I just want to be published by a pro science fiction market 3 times. I almost got there once. Which means it isn't impossible. I am doing it more for the validation since I spend hours on my hobby writing. It really is a trivial question to ask why I got it wrong. I tend to think I am nice to others, so I answer their questions. A common advice which I value a lot is to always send your work to the best market possible. I wasn't familiar with what pence was since I never used it as a currency (been to the uk as a tourist once). Also, my knowledge of math has to do with numbers being 1.3 being the wrong number to express what they were paying. Part of me wants to be realistic. The new yorker is very well known to me. 1.3 stated as the conversion rate should be stated in a different number. But I dont mind I will leave it there. I mean I don't know if this could ultimately be what I need. Since I do want a longer list of paid publications.

I hope I can disagree. I mean if we disagree maybe the truth or the good opinion will come from it? Sometimes people feel offended when they disagree. So do I agree with your post. Mostly, but like any writer who has a passion to write I have to sacrifice my hours and time to write a story.

How is this relevant? The advice is that you should always submit to the best imo still stays true. If they reject you eventually someone will accept you. Which is why I do have courage, despite my statement saying I didn't. Just to place this into context. This statement came from the sfwa. 8 cents is a lot better. But that doesn't mean it is a lot. I have heard that argument before.

Some facts about the new yorker I also know. It accepts science fiction. Some anecdote: I saw a person who submitted there get a rejection that unsolicited manuscripts sometimes get accepted. But this is rarely the case.

The highest I've been paid was 6 cents. So I do know it's not impossible for me. I hope what I said is the truth to people here (it might be the relative truth). Sometimes I suppose there is room for disagreement. But thanks for writing down your opinion. So for the New Yorker I disagree. The rest of your opinion makes sense.
 

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