History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Dealing with Rejection

Neon sign reading "Nope"I sent out my first short story to a market in 2011. In the six years that have followed, I’ve sent out stories about 650 times (and counting). And at the moment, I’ve gotten just over 30 acceptances.

That makes my acceptance rate right about half of a percent. Which means that 99.5 percent of the time, a story I send out is going to come back with a rejection.

Breaking it down like this makes the short story market seem kind of bleak. And I won’t lie: it is. But if I didn’t submit stories to short story markets, do you know how many acceptances I’d have? Zero.

So how do you work through the extremely likely odds that your story will be rejected and keep going? While your mileage may vary, here’s what I do.

  1. Remember that when a market rejects your story, they are rejecting your STORY, not you. They aren’t telling you that you suck, they’re just telling you that the story you sent them isn’t a good fit for them at the moment. It isn’t you, it’s their needs. This makes a big difference to me, because I get this. I co-edit a short fiction market too. Not everything we get works for us either. But it’s about the stories we receive, not the people who send them.
  2. Remember that a story that you don’t send out to markets can’t get accepted. Really. No market has a way to access the stories you’ve got hiding on your hard drive or in the cloud. You have to put yourself out there in order to get stories considered and ultimately accepted.
  3. Remember to keep writing. When you’ve got a story (or many stories) out at markets, there’s a tendency to play “wait and see.” You can certainly send out all of your stories and then just wait. But if you keep writing while you’re waiting, a) you’ll have more stories to submit, thus upping your odds of getting a story accepted somewhere, and b) you’ll get more practice writing. And that practice may be what makes the difference in getting your next story (or your tenth story down the line from this one) accepted.

And bear in mind that it’s okay to sometimes give yourself a little bit of time to wallow. I’ve had some stories that I was just certain were going to finally get their shot come back with rejections. And it stings. And sometimes, when I’ve had four or five rejections all land in my inbox on the same day, I have to take some time to wallow in the misery of so many rejections.

But then I have to pick myself up and send those stories out again. And “just keep swimming,” or “always forward, always,” or whatever your mantra of choice may be.

Or, as I have been known to yell (playfully) at my writer’s group, “SUBMIT!”

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One Response to “Dealing with Rejection”

  1. Wulf Moon says:

    Good post, Dawn. Keep swinging! You’ve already had good success, and must be true to yourself, a WRITER. : )

    Warmth and sunshine,


    Wulf Moon

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