Publication Process: What We Do with our Rejections

Before I even start typing, I know I’m going to get disagreement on this one. The truth is that different writers look at their rejections differently. They make different choices about what they do with a rejection, particularly if it comes with personalized notes. So I’m only talking here about -my- process.

One of the first things that people will tell you to do when you get a rejection is to get that story back out the door. I use Duotrope to track my submissions, so I would use them to pick through the markets where I hadn’t already submitted that piece…and off it would go.

But there were times when I wouldn’t do this immediately, especially if I’d gotten editorial suggestions. ((Those are NOT rewrite requests, btw. Rewrite requests usually include the words rewrite and request.)) I usually consider those for a day or two, which is where a lot of people will disagree with my methods.

There’s some very good advice out there that I think is attributable to Heinlein. Something like Never rewite except for an editor who’s paying you money. OK, that’s a terrible paraphrase, but it’s something along those lines. I’m sure someone will provide the correct version in comments.

And usually, I don’t rewrite a story based on a rejection. But I always make myself consider it.

The rejection letter I posted last Tuesday? It had a personalized note from the asst editor which had some very good editorial suggestions. I didn’t take his advice, in this case. I suspect that if I had, I might have sold that story to a higher paying market. BUT...when I read his notes, I realized I didn’t -want- to change that story. And given what he’d said, I realized that I’d sent it to the wrong market. So I turned around and sent it to a market that was low-paying, but wanted that story as it was. They bought it.

Now some people will probably remonstrate me for sending out something to a non-pro market on its second outing, but that’s an argument for another day. I’m only talking about the decision whether to revise or not. Generally I don’t do revisions unless I’ve gotten -several- rejections in a row. But I try to be willing to listen. Editors generally don’t waste their time writing us notes unless they think it will help.*

(BTW, I wanted to point out here that I really loved the JBU Forum Submission process, which allowed others to make suggestions during the process….I know some people didn’t like this, but it ended up giving me two of my pro sales and an endless supply of good advice…)

*I’ve always had good experiences with editors. I know some of you haven’t. But I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a ‘stupid’ comment from an editor. The one time I got a comment that didn’t make sense, I e-mailed the editor and asked what he meant, and he kindly explained his comment…which did make me turn around and rewrite that story, because he was correct.

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