Rejection is a part of life for everyone. We get rejected by colleges, for jobs and very occasionally by runaway brides. But us writers, we get rejected more. A lot more. Me, I’ve been rejected by one college (___ me, Princeton), turned down for a dozen or so jobs, lost a few score customer proposals, and never have been left at the altar. But as of last week, I’ve garnered 500 rejections on short stories.
It wasn’t always like this. The very first short story I ever wrote, “Walking with Great Uncle,” sold to the first journal I submitted it to (thank you, The First Line). Which, perhaps needless to say, got me hooked on writing shorts. But reality set in and my hit rate dropped. But I sold a few more and got cocky, started submitting to pro markets, and my hit rate dropped even further, at one point to sub 2 %. But I’m getting better, and as of last week I stood at 27 acceptances and 500 rejections, for a 5.1% hit rate. Even better, I’m up to 6 acceptances in pro markets, with 261 rejections, so I have a 2.2% hit rate in that higher league. Interestingly, while I write both fantasy and science fiction, and my hit rate is nearly identical for the two genres, although I’m doing a little better in the Sci Fi pro markets.
Still, rejection is tough. Almost 85% of the rejections I have received are form letters, which at one level I understand (hey these editors have to read a LOT of submissions) and at another, it’s hey, be a human being.
Note that I haven’t written 500 stories, rather I’ve submitted ~50 stories on average ~10 times each. Some stories sell fast—that first one for example—and some take forever. My personal record is 34 rejections for “How a Valkyrie Flies” before I sold it to Sci Fan Magazine. And my favorite was selling “Run” to Escape Pod, a pro market, after 15 rejections.
Better yet, sometimes I can sell the same story twice (the second go is called a reprint, which only a few markets will accept). I’ve got three in this category.
But still rejections sting. Since I started this blog, I’ve received 2 more form letter rejections. But I’ll keep at it, I have 20 that I’m currently shopping and a couple more I need to finish.
Keep on writin’!