"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Rejection Reflections...Silence is the Worst

Rejection is part of being a writer. Most of us have been taught this, and the rest find out soon enough. If you can’t handle rejection, you’ve chosen the wrong profession. Even writers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, who could probably get a grocery list published, have faced plenty of rejection in the past.

It’s difficult at first. You put a fragile part of yourself into something, edit and then edit some more until it’s the best you can possibly do. You take a deep breath and submit, only to receive a form letter a few weeks later saying thank you, but no thanks.
The first few rejections hurt, no doubt about it. But much as people who work with tools develop protective calluses on their hands, those of us who toil with the pen develop something similar, commonly referred to as a thick skin. Over time, rejection no longer frightens or hurts us. In fact, many writers use rejection as a challenge to produce even better work.
Unfortunately, with the worldwide domination of the internet has come something even more discouraging than rejection – the no-reply. Many publications no longer reply to a submission unless they’ve decided to publish it. Some will give a timetable – if you don’t hear from us within eight weeks, assume that we have decided not to publish your work. Others do not, leaving you wondering weeks later if they are still looking at your submission, if they lost it, forgot about it, or any other misfortune that the creative mind of a writer can imagine.
The no-reply seems very disrespectful, with a touch of arrogance. It reminds me of sitting at home, waiting for a first date to arrive. You put time and effort into making yourself look the best you possibly can, full of excitement about the possibilities. Then you sit and wait. As time passes you find yourself looking at the clock, but that excited, optimistic feeling remains. Then, slowly, doubt creeps in, until eventually you admit that she’s probably not coming. And then you wonder, why didn’t she just call? With all the effort put into it, the very least you deserve is a phone call or a text.

Most publications today accept only online submissions. It’s a fine idea – paperless for the environment and all that – but it makes submitting very, very easy. Submitting a hard copy of an article or short story may cost almost a dollar to submit, when considering the price of ink, paper, envelope and a stamp. That’s for just one submission. Not to mention the time it takes to put this all together.
With online submissions, you can write one story and submit it to dozens of publications within minutes, absolutely free. And that’s exactly what many writers do – click, submit; click, submit. Doesn’t matter if the story or article is even remotely close to what the writing guidelines ask for, because many writers no longer bother reading them.
The problem with online submissions is that editors are swamped with so many submissions that they no longer have time to send a reply. This is what they tell us, anyway. Personally, it doesn’t seem that it would take that much effort to at least email a form rejection. Nobody’s favorite, but at least it gives some closure.
And so we continue to write, celebrating when we get an acceptance letter and continuing to grind away with every rejection.
As for the publications that don’t reply at all, I say treat them like that no-show date and move on.
Break free from the "Heartbreak Hotel." 
There are others out there who will like what we do, if we just keep looking.
Gary Sprague's fiction and non-fiction have appeared in several publications, including the Raleigh Review, Writers Weekly, Grown and Flown, and Mamalode.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree? How do you handle rejection?

Image credit: https://Pixabay.com/


  1. Sometimes a rejection is immediate and then at least you know where you stand or where you won't be published and can move on. I received one of those today and appreciated it. Having developed a book for a publisher, I was instructed not send rejections, which went against everything I believe.

    1. Sometimes the immediate rejections can sting, because it make you wonder if they've even taken a look. But as you said, at least you can move on.

  2. I've been at every one of the points you mentioned. Alligator hide is the ensemble most often worn by a writer. Great post!

    1. That's exactly right, thanks!

  3. Love that analogy, Sue. Good to reconnect today.

  4. Gary, thanks for sharing your insight here. Rejection isn't fun, but sometimes it leads to better things, like a better home for your article. Either way, it's all part of the job, right? Nice to meet you!

    Jen, thanks for hosting. Have a great week! :)

  5. Thanks Karen!