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Rejection Blues

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    Dear Craig,

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read Stilled Longing. Alas, I will have to pass on this one as it's not quite right for me. I appreciate your interest in Weird Tales and hope that you will keep me in mind for future submissions.

    Yours Weirdly,

    Ann VanderMeer, Editor-in-Chief
    Booooo. Oh well.


      Sorry to hear that, Craig. That's a great market there.
      Website l Facebook l Author Page l Twitter l Instagram l Amazon


        Yeah. i think Nik has been published by them. Very cool press.


          Yeah, they're pretty cool. Took me a heckuva while to get in there. Even the story that got accepted she held onto for more than a year before finally giving it the green light.

          In other news, got rejected from Make Magazine. Cool looking lit mag. At least they let me KNOW I didn't make it in this time. Last time I didn't even get an email.


            Rejection, but thanks for the links MLD.
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              Originally posted by ozmosis7 View Post
              Rejection, but thanks for the links MLD.
              Sorry about that. I don't ever give that level of response. It feels a bit weird and presumptive. Still, I feel we're a bit more in this writing thing together than the average submitter. I hope the links are helpful. They tend to focus on novel length works but the core still applies to short stories.



                Originally posted by mlouisdixon View Post
                I feel we're a bit more in this writing thing together than the average submitter.
                I appreciate that. Thanks.
                Website l Facebook l Author Page l Twitter l Instagram l Amazon


                  Rejections are just part of a writer's life. We all just have to keep on keeping on. Looking at my submission tracker, I've had 33 rejections since 2008 (when I started taking writing seriously) and only 7 acceptances. I've received everything from a useless form rejection to the strangest rejection--a sci-fi story in which each character was associated with a color. My protagonist was associated with the color purple, and the editor couldn't fathom why I'd chosen purple for the protagonist. It was such a sticking point that it taught me how subjective writing is. I've learned to take rejections lightly--once in a while I'll get a constructive line or two, but usually I just move on to the next market. Good luck to everyone getting your work placed!


                    Hey guys,
                    I'm now truly amazed at how thick-skinned we have to be in this writing for publication business. I've sent out so many stories thanks to the wonder of Duotrope and the forum and every capillary site therein. Cee Dub, Ozmo, Richard, Craig, after the week of Rejections I've received I have to wonder if maybe I'm on the wrong track. I feel like that scrawny kid in grade school that everyone would pound on just to be cool and keep the bullies in business. He would rub his bruised arm each time a kid would slug him and he would smile like you knew he was on the precipice of tears but he would still smile and maybe giggle and say, "That didn't hurt." AND YOU KNOW DAMN GOOD AND WELL IT HURT LIKE HELL! I feel like that kid today. 7 out of 9 rejections so far, 2 pending. What the fuck!? It's like they ask for a left-handed red cashmere glove with silk lined fingers in the index and ring finger only, cut away thumb, only covering the first two inches of the wrist, with double elastic stitching, so I find a glove pattern, find cashmere, dye it red, purchase chinese silk spinning spiders, craft the piece to exacting specifications cut out the thumb hole, remeasure the wrist elastic for good measure, and finally submit it....

                    Then I get a rejection letter thanking me and then saying they loved my crimson toe-sock... but its just not the shade of red they had in mind. Is this what you accomplished authors have gone through? Do I keep pluggin' away at it? Is this the NORM?
                    Help Me Cee Dub! Help Me Richard! OZMO, MLOUIS, Craig, NIK? Do I need to buy a separate bookshelf for rejections? Should I start MY OWN thread Randy's Collection and start taking pictures to send you guys?


                      Originally posted by Randy D. Rubin View Post
                      Hey guys,
                      Should I start MY OWN thread Randy's Collection and start taking pictures to send you guys?
                      No need for a new thread. Just post the pictures, thanks.


                        Randy - seriously, if I could take your hand and walk you to the Rejection Thread over at Write Club, and you could see how many rejections Richard and I get compared to acceptances, your score wouldn't be so depressing. Honestly, there are times I think I can't write a damn word and I should throw my laptop in the river like a bag of cats and see it drown, screaming and whimpering. Then there are days I think I'll just write for myself and fuck everyone else. Then days come along when I'm on top of the world because in my inbox, there is one person who believes in me, one person who actually likes what I write. Then that one person becomes two people, then three, and after a while you start to understand the bigger picture: there are soooooooooo many writers out there. It's a numbers game, luck, and talent. Sometimes they all come together and it works, but any of those three fail, and you feel like shit.

                        I wrote something about this a while back on my blog. Maybe I'm wrong, but this was how I felt at the time:

                        Recently there was a discussion started by Roxane Gay over at PANK magazine’s blog that involved the Rejection of a Rejection. This method, which I assume isn’t a regular practice, involved a writer rejecting PANK’s rejection of their story based on the fact the writer believed they were wrong in their decision and actually didn’t know what they wanted from a story. From the editor’s perspective, it provoked within them a need to discuss why certain stories are not accepted, most of which included many factors: quantity of submissions, personal tastes etc. A very long entry/rant was made on the website’s blog and many writers/readers jumped in to provide support, play Devil’s Advocate, or disagree entirely.

                        From the writer’s perspective, where I’m best placed, I can empathise with any writer who gets a rejection. And for many years, I felt that every email that arrived in my inbox that began with the words, “Dear Craig. Thanks for allowing (insert name of journal) to read (insert title of story), but unfortunately, we’re going to pass...” was a personal insult to me and my work. But, when you’ve been submitting for the number of years I have, you begin to realise that rejection doesn’t mean the story is bad. I know, it’s a bit of a revelation, but it’s true. I’m not saying this is the case for all stories. I’m sure, like those that audition for these celebrity hosted talented shows on TV who are tone deaf but think they can sing like Aretha Franklin, but sound more like the urethra of Aretha Franklin while she took a piss, there are writers out there that shouldn’t be allowed near a word processer. But by in large, a story being rejected shouldn’t reflect on style or the writer’s talent.

                        This will be one of the hardest things to get into your head as a writer, and I think those that take rejections too personally, or dwell on the impact of the rejection too much, it can end a career before it has time to blossom. There is no suitable analogy for a rejection that I can think of. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that before you submit a story to any journal/magazine ask yourself this: Would you serve steak to a vegetarian?

                        By submitting a dark and subversive noir story to a magazine that publishes Fantasy, you shouldn't be surprised when the a rejection arrives a month or two later. If you submit your absurdist steampunk vampire chicken zombie story to somewhere like, GlimmerTrain, then yes, chances are it would really fit with them (knowing my luck the next edition of Glimmertrain will feature a story titled: Foul Fangs). And if we stick with the steak analogy for a moment, even if you find a place that likes meat, everyone has their own particular preference on how they want it cooked. Not everyone likes it rare, but instead prefer well done. Some will settle for a little blood, when others hate the sight of blood. In short, get to know your market, and who you’re pitching too. Read their stories. Look at the author list. Does anyone cook a steak like you? And please, don’t feel if your story has been rejected that you’re a lousy cook. Might be the editor is full and couldn’t force down another mouthful, or perhaps the seasoning was too much. Or, it might just be you served up the wrong dish to the wrong person.
                        Don't lose hope. There is someone out there waiting for your story. Find them, Randy.


                          Randy - case in point. Just received this:

                          Dear Craig Wallwork,

                          Thank you for sending "Railway Architecture." I appreciated the opportunity to read your work, but decided not to select it for the journal.

                          Thanks for submitting to Storyglossia.

                          Steven J. McDermott
                          Editor & Publisher


                            @RANDY - it's like a sales job, where you know that it's just numbers - if you have to knock on 20 doors for 1 sale, then you gotta keep knocking - if the average acceptance rate of a magazine or journal is say 5%, then you not only have to keep submitting, but you need to BEAT OUT the other 19 stories - every editor is different, and it's getting the right person on the right day - i've had stories rejected 10, 20, 30 times and then they land at a great place - my current novel has been pass on by 50+ agents and 6 small presses, but i still believe in it, you have to

                            here are my stats from Duotrope for this year to give you an idea:

                            Pending responses for last 12 months: 26
                            Submissions sent last 12 months: 182
                            Submissions sent this month: 30
                            Acceptance ratio for the past 12 months: 10.13 %


                            Submissions accepted: 13
                            Submissions rejected: 57
                            Submissions withdrawn: 32
                            Submissions pending: 26

                            You have to do your research, and send out the work. I just started shopping a new story, for example. It's called "Flowers for Jessica" a bit of dark magical realism. Did I send it to three places? NO, I sent it out to TWENTY-FOUR PLACES. Five rejections so far, and it's only been out 12 days.

                            Keep at it.


                              Thank you gentlemen... I needed that. Most sincerely, Randy


                                i've gotten lots of rejections that were like "really enjoyed this, great setting, wonderful characters, unique idea" and then they pass - it's all about right place right time, here's my current list of markets that i'm targeting via Duotrope, maybe you can find some new places in there - and i'm also including two links, in case you haven't seen them, one on Simultaneous Submissions and one of my Target Markets:

                                Simultaneous Submissions:
                                My Targets: (not all are horror, obviously)

                                FAVORITE MARKETS: (updated 07.25.11)
                                3 AM Magazine (accepted)
                                751 Magazine
                                Alaska Quarterly Review
                                Albedo ONe
                                alice blue
                                Another Chicago Magazine
                                Apex Magazine
                                Apodis Publishing
                                Aqueous Books
                                Arcane Magazine
                                Artifice Magazine
                                Atlantic Monthly, The
                                Atticus Review
                                Avery Anthology
                                Bat City Review
                                Battered Suitcase, The
                                Beat to a Pulp
                                Beneath Ceaseless Skies
                                Berkley Fiction Review
                                Big Lucks
                                Black Clock
                                Black Death Books
                                Black Heart Magazine
                                Black Lawrence Press
                                Black Rainbows Press
                                Black Static
                                Black Warrior Review
                                Bleak House Books
                                Blink-Ink (twice)
                                Blue Earth Review
                                BOMB Magazine
                                Bourbon Penn
                                BULL SPEC
                                Camera Obscura
                                Cannoli Pie (accepted)
                                Capilano Review, The
                                Cavalier Literary Couture
                                Cemetery Dance (accepted)
                                Cherry Bleeds (accepted) (dead)
                                Chicago Review
                                Chiron Review
                                ChiZine (Chiaroscuro) (contest win + 2nd story)
                                ChiZine Publications
                                Cimarron Review
                                Clarkesworld Magazine
                                Collagist, The
                                Colorado Review
                                Colored Chalk (multiple acceptances)
                                Comet Press
                                Copper Nickel
                                Cream City Review
                                Crimefactory (accepted)
                                Criminal Element
                                Dark Discoveries
                                Dark Horizons
                                Dark Sky Magazine
                                Descant (Canada)
                                Dimensions Books
                                Dirty Noir (accepted)
                                Dogmatika (accepted)
                                Drollerie Press
                                Dzanc Books
                                Electric Literature
                                Electric Velocipede
                                Eleven Eleven
                                Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
                                Emerson Review, The
                                Emprise Review (accepted)
                                Existere – Journal of Arts and Literature
                                Fantasy and Science Fiction
                                Fantasy Magazine
                                Featherproof Books
                                Fiction International
                                Fifth Wednesday Journal
                                Flambard Press
                                Flying Pen Press
                                Freight Stories
                                Frogmore Papers
                                Fugue State Press
                                Full of Crow Quarterly Fiction
                                Gargoyle (accepted)
                                Going Down Swinging (AU)
                                Gold Dust (accepted)
                                Grave Tales
                                Graywolf Press
                                Grist: The Journal for Writers
                                GUD: Greatest Uncommon Denominator
                                Hayden’s Ferry Review
                                Horror Zine, The
                                Hotel St. George Press
                                Ig Publishing
                                Ilura Press
                                Indiana Review
                                Kenyon Review
                                Keyhole Magazine
                                kill author
                                Lake Effect
                                L’Allure des Mots
                                Leodegraunce (accepted)
                                Literary Fever
                                LITRO: Stories Transport You
                                MacAdam/Cage Publishing
                                MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine
                                Manic D Press
                                Maverick Magazine (closed)
                                McSweeney’s Books
                                McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
                                McSweeney’s Quarterly
                                Medallion Press
                                Metazen (accepted)
                                Midnight Echo
                                Midwestern Gothic
                                Missouri Review
                                Moon Milk Review
                                Morrigan Books
                                Mundania Press
                                Murky Depths (accepted)
                                Natural Bridge
                                Nefarious Muse (twice)
                                New England Review
                                New Genre
                                New Horizons
                                New Ohio Review (NOR)
                                New Orleans Review
                                New York Tyrant
                                New Yorker, The
                                Night Shade Books
                                Night Train
                                Ninth Letter
                                Not One of Us
                                NO COLONY
                                NO÷ Journal
                                Noon Annual
                                Normal School, The
                                Not One of Us
                                Notes from the Underground
                                Offense Mechanisms
                                On Spec
                                One Buck Horror
                                One Story
                                Opium Magazine (accepted)
                                Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
                                Otherworld Publications (novel accepted)
                                Out of the Gutter Magazine
                                Outsider Writers Collective (accepted)
                                PANK (accepted)
                                Paris Review
                                Pear Noir! (accepted)
                                Pedestal Magazine
                                Permanent Press Publishing Company, The
                                Permuted Press
                                Pill Hill Press
                                Plots With Guns (excerpt)
                                Poisoned Pen Press
                                Post Road Magazine
                                Prime Books
                                Quick Fiction
                                Raleigh Review
                                Rambler, The
                                Red Hen Press
                                Revolution House
                                River Styx
                                Rotten Leaves (accepted)
                                Salt Hill
                                Severed Press
                                ShadowCast Audio Anthology
                                Shadows & Tall Trees
                                Sheepshead Review
                                Shock Totem
                                Short, Fast and Deadly
                                Shotgun Honey (accepted)
                                Shroud Magazine
                                Shroud Publishing
                                Sideshow Fables (co-editor)
                                Slice Magazine
                                Smokelong Quarterly
                                Snubnose Press (accepted)
                                Soho Press
                                Southeast Review, The
                                Southern Review, The
                                Spinetingler (excerpt)
                                Steampunk Tales
                                StepAway Magazine (accepted)
                                Strange Horizons
                                Stymie Magazine
                                subTerrain Magazine
                                Summerset Review, The
                                Tarpaulin Sky Literary Journal
                                Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction
                                Thieves Jargon
                                Third Coast
                                Threepenny Review
                                Thunderdome: The Writer’s Collection (accepted)
                                Tin House
                                Torque Press
                                Troubadour 21 (accepted)
                                Twelve Stories
                                Twist of Noir, A
                                Vain Magazine (accepted, excerpt)
                                Vestal Review
                                Virginia Quarterly Review
                                Weave Magazine
                                Weird Tales
                                Whitewash Dreamz
                                Wild Child Publishing
                                Willow Springs
                                Withersin Magazine (excerpt)
                                Zoetrope: All-Story
                                Zone 3
                                Zumaya Publications