Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Get Rejected...A Lot

This year, one of my resolutions was to send out more writing submissions.  Short stories, full length manuscripts, romance, horror, you name it - I wrote it and I sent it out into the cold hard world.

This was also the year I had my first romance short story accepted for publication.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Something that changed in my life with the decision to send out more writing submissions was the sheer volume of work involved in getting together cover letters, synopses, editing the stories themselves.  Not to mention the research that went into finding the appropriate journals and publishers to receive my work.

And, then, once I had submitted my writing, I spent time checking up on the submissions after the recommended waiting period (and, often, before the period was up).  In some cases, I had to resubmit due to work being lost or misplaced or simply because the publishers' guidelines said to do that after a few months had passed.

Then, of course, came the hardest work of all - reading the rejection letters that started to spill in.

Oh, the horror.

Rejection letters are disheartening, in that they rip into your chest and pull out your still beating heart and then squeeze it and squeeze it until it bleeds tears of blood.

Yes, it feel just like that.

The Solution

I can't say that each rejection letter doesn't hurt.  They do.  They keep on hurting, I imagine, even for successful published authors.  That's because of what they represent...a decision that, for whatever reason, your writing wasn't good enough.  And, of course, that leads us to think that we aren't good enough.

Here's the thing: a rejection letter only means that your piece of writing wasn't what that specific agent/publisher/editor wanted at that time for their specific purpose/schedule/tastes/needs.  That's all.

A rejection doesn't mean your writing sucks and, most of all, doesn't mean some other agent or editor won't want it when it fits into their particular needs and tastes.

My solution is to keep my options open (and hopes alive) by sending out a bunch of queries at the same time.  As the rejection letters start rolling in, I can say to myself "well, that's one down.  I have ten more in the hopper, which means ten more chances to be accepted".  This inevitably cheers me up.

When I find that my 'hopper' has run low, I send out another batch of queries.

Yes, this is time-consuming.  It takes ten times as long to send out ten queries because it means additional research, revisions to your query letter, structuring your manuscript or synopsis in a specific way as set out in the individual guidelines.  It's work, yes.  But it's worth it.

No two ways about it, rejection hurts.  This is one way I've found to make it sting less.