Responses to Rejection

During a past month where we shared Flash Fiction, I talked about those stories that just don’t sell.

There’s some good advice out there about what to do when you get a rejection:

  • Sometimes a story will be a good story, but it isn’t to the editor’s taste, or the editor received five submissions with a similar theme and could only take one, or it doesn’t have the “tone” or “feel” that matches the other stories in the anthology/magazine/etc. There’s no reason this story won’t sell somewhere else, to an editor who likes this kind of story, or to an anthology where it’s a better fit with the other stories.
  • If the editor offers you feedback on the story, consider using that feedback, both in revisions, and in writing from that point forward. (If you don’t use it, make sure it’s for logical reasons, rather than ego-driven reasons.)
  • It’s the height of unprofessionalism to argue with the editor about why they “should have” accepted your story. And while many of us were brought up to believe that “thank you” notes are appropriate, in the case of story submissions they typically aren’t. Editors are often overworked and filtering through 700 “thank you for your response” emails from rejected authors are a waste of their time. The detriment to the editor outweighs the courtesy of the gesture.
  • If the story’s solid, send it out again to a different market. Caveat: If I wrote a story for an anthology, I sit on it for a while before I send it out again. The reason? If a magazine gets a submission about Lake Monsters, and they know an anthology about Lake Monsters recently sent out its rejection letters, then they can do the math and guess that the story in front of them was rejected from the anthology. It could be a perfectly good Lake Monster story, but it’s tainted by association. Sit on your Lake Monster story for a year or so; review it and revise it if you think the changes will improve it; then send it out again.

But what do you do when you don’t think the story’s solid?

Next month I’m going to talk about the stories that just don’t sell, and when to rewrite vs when to let it go.

See you then!

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