Lessons from Rejection

The inevitable has finally happened: I’ve started getting rejections.

And lots of them.

Some editors have the time/consideration to tell me why they’re rejecting my work, which is really helpful, and others don’t bother. But so far I’ve noted a few things that are proving helpful (and preventing me from crying about it).

  • Some editors will hate what another loved. This lesson I learned from a podcast editor, who hated the things that made “Shadows of the Darkest Jade” a Lovecraftian story worthy of being included in a Lovecraft anthology in the first place. This might seem like an obvious lesson, but it made me laugh (in a bitterly ironic kind of way), so it’s worth mentioning.
  • Every high comes with a low. This is, again, a fairly obvious lesson …but everyone experiences an ebb in their popularity/success and this is (one of) mine. I just have to roll with it.
  • The more work you produce, the more criticism/rejection you’ll receive. This is just statistics. I’m not sure whether the quality of my work is suffering with quantity, though, so I think I’m going to dial back how many submissions I’m writing just so I can focus on writing better quality submissions.  If I churn out 20 crummy stories, they will all be rejected; it’s better to focus and produce 2 really excellent stories that actually have a chance of being published.
  • The more risks you take the more you’ll be rejected. My stories lately have been less linear and traditional. They’re a little harder to sell because they’re in unusual formats or have unusual points of view. It may be that these stories are simply impossible (or really difficult) to sell, and I’ll have to compromise and return to linear storytelling if I want to sell stories. I like challenging myself, so this is frustrating, but I understand that readers like linear, third-person storytelling. And maybe I’m just not that good at writing in unusual formats and POVs and I should wait until I’m a more skilled writer to try this challenge again.
  • Sometimes it’s good to focus on non-writing parts of the business. Yes, being a better writer is the most important goal I have, but I also do other things to promote myself (like write blog posts!) that are important. It may be that this time of year, while the sun is shining, is a better time for me to focus on the self-promotion aspects of the business than the writing part. I think my writing is better in the winter. I am, at least, more focused…summer is full of distractions!
  • Not every event/publication is appropriate for a particular author’s work. As an example, I had a frustrating time at Ba-Con this weekend, even though the convention itself was a blast, because my panels were not well-attended. It just wasn’t the right crowd for what I was presenting–and that’s okay. It was the con’s first year, so there was no way to know what the response would be like! The steampunk presentations I did with other members of the Airship Archon were much more popular, which was awesome, so I’m content with that.

So, while I’m frustrated with the rejections I’ve been receiving lately, I think I have ferreted out the causes, and my attitude remains positive and hopeful. I also take comfort from the fact that many other, far more accomplished and talented authors than I have received far more rejections. I’m in good company.

6 thoughts on “Lessons from Rejection

  1. I was told that in cases of rejection re-read your work and send it somewhere else. If it’s not what that editor was looking for then perhaps your style or subject matter, or whatever, just doesn’t fit the publication or their tastes, but it may fit into what someone else is looking for.
    If your storytelling is different than what some traditional genre publishers are looking for perhaps try more literary and arts publishers rather than your original intended audience. I’ve been researching the Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market books this past week and it’s interesting how much research I’ve done without sending much out. My last two submissions were rejected, but if you don’t take the risk, then you won’t know if your style is a fit for a publisher or not…so take the risk.
    I still want you to do a reading for my writer’s group sometime, but my life has been back to back crazy for a little while. After this weekend everything should be chill enough for me to actually figure out a plan of some kind. Do you go to Columbus Creative Co-op meetings? I was thinking of going this week.

  2. It’s refreshing that you have your head up as opposed to….well yeah….buried somewhere else in your anatomy. You’re doing exactly what a successful artist/author does, processing it correctly and logically, even in the heat of emotion.

    Your faithful readers take heart that you keep a positive mindset and never give up!


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