Although I have been writing since I can remember, I have only recently started to submit my own work to publishers. I am focusing on short stories and flash fiction because that is where I am the most comfortable, so I have been submitting to small magazines and publishers.
Out of three stories submitted in the last couple of months, the first I submitted was accepted immediately and the other two were rejected. I have read that a lot of writers face rejection with a bout of disappointment and a feeling of inadequacy, however, I did not. When you are submitting your work, here a a few things to remember that might help take the sting from a rejection:
-Every piece that has ever been published has been picked for a reason. Every book or story that you don’t like that exists happened because someone saw something in it. If one person rejects your work, that doesn’t mean that it was bad, it just means that they don’t have the same reading interests as you do. We all like different things.
-Your style is your style, but that doesn’t mean that it will resonate with everyone. I love Tolkien, but I know a lot of people who do not share my enthusiasm. I have heard that he is too detailed, the books too long, and the story too slow. I don’t find it so, but I realize that even the best of stories are not meant for every single person on the planet.
-When you get a rejection, you are then free to send it to someone else. It might feel like you are starting the whole process over again, but you aren’t. You’ve already written, edited, and formatted the story. Find another publisher and send it along again.
-Rejections can let you know when you should rework a story. I’ve made a “two rejections” rule for myself. If I submit a piece to two different publishers, and it is rejected both times, then I need to do something differently. I need to go in and make some changes. I need to have someone read my story and tell me where it falls flat and then I need to figure out how to improve it. Generally, I find that the bones of most stories are good, it’s the guts that need either filling or trimming.
-The fact that you are writing and submitting makes you a writer. It doesn’t matter if you get rejected, you are writing and you are submitting. Rejections are part of being a writer, and if you can’t handle them, then you need to rethink your goals. We aren’t all going to become bestselling authors, but we can become writers in our own right. Be proud that you have the gall to spend your free time making something that means so much to you, and that you actually send it in to be shown publicly.
-Be realistic. You know your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. If you aren’t where you want to be yet, work at it and get better. Publishers like good writing, so if you find you are getting too many rejections, don’t ask “why” no one has accepted your piece, ask “how” you can write a story that will be accepted. If you see weaknesses in your own story, expect them to be even more glaring to others.
And most of all, don’t be upset because one or two editors out of millions didn’t see what you were trying to do. Take your rejections and use them as a badge for yourself. They might not be what you were anticipating, but they prove that you are on the journey of being a writer. They show that you made the effort and that you are on your way. You might not make it as far as you would like, but you took the first steps.
And last of all, remember this:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 1.