“The more you fling yourself out there, and chase those dreams and miracles, the higher your likelihood of catching one.”~Stephanie Elizondo Griest
I was clearing out my office this week and discovered a binder in which I had been tracking my story submissions some ten years ago. I submitted many submissions of various kinds to a variety of publications. If I recall correctly, at the time I had recently read of a writer (sorry I can’t remember who) who had wallpapered his/her office with rejection letters. I’ve also heard of some artists who create rejection walls of art. I didn’t think I was up for that so I tried to learn from these responses and tucked them away out of site, but nearby for easy reference. Then, I forgot about them.
Upon reflection, several of these rejections were simply lists of reasons why my stories were not accepted with a checkmark beside the rejection of choice. Other publications sent generic letters crafted with carefully written words to spare me hurt feelings or prevent damage to my fragile artistic sensibilities. Most spoke of numerous submissions and little time for providing feedback. Then, they encouraged me to send other pieces or, submit my story elsewhere. A few people jotted a comment on the standard letter or wrote a personal note.
Now, ten years later, I am still learning from these rejections. Here are some snippets so other new writers can see how common it is to receive rejections and know what to expect. If rejection letters get you down, check out Rejection Letter Cartoons and Comics by Cartoon Stock, Tracy Meuller’s prose poetry posing as a rejection letter. Or, watch the video below to see Anthony Jucha share lines from his employment rejection letters written as a poem. Have a laugh, consider the feedback that is helpful, re-write, choose a more suitable market and submit again.
Ultimately what this last decade has taught me about writing is to persevere, keep a sense of humour and clear out my office more than once every ten years.
Rejection notes with names of stories and companies written as ellipses.
“It is not suited to our present needs.”
“Thanks but this isn’t for us. It’s certainly worth being published, but this magazine follows a very strict formula like Coca-Cola, and it’s quite a subtle blend of styles, narrative and services stories. Your piece should and probably will find a home in a magazine with a formula different from …”
“Though your idea is thought provoking, we are unfortunately unable to publish it at this time.”
“A nice story. The material does not fit the … publishing programme.”
“Our editorial staff has carefully read and reviewed the manuscript, and I’m afraid it isn’t right for our publications. Although your concept is interesting, we found the level of competition a bit too unhealthy and Dad less than supportive.”
“We enjoyed reading both stories, so I’m sorry to tell you that we have finally decided neither one is right for us. The… story seems a bit too cruel for our preschool audience, and the craft story is similar to other material we have on hand. We appreciate the chance to see your work… and wish you success placing these stories with another publisher.”
“Thank you and we’ll pass. Very tender! Our very best…”
“Specifically, your style of writing, while interesting and colorful tends to dominate while the story is lost. It is not often that I reject manuscripts for this reason. More commonly, I reject manuscripts because they are merely dry renditions of uninspired stories. Your story most certainly is not. Focus more on sequence and plot, making sure that these vital story elements don’t get lost in your imagery.”
“Please refer to the manuscript for editing notes. I hope they will be helpful. Keep up the good work!”