If you intend to traditionally publish any of your writing, you’re going to have to become intimately familiar with rejection. In self-publishing rejection is a bit softer; unless you literally sell zero copies of your book, someone out there accepted you. But if you’re doing the traditional publisher or short fiction market thing, you’ll end up with quite a number of rejection notes.

I know, because I’m an expert in rejection. I have thousands of rejection notes. I even have a lot of them on paper, in a file, because I am an Old and back in The Day we sent our fictions through the mail like animals. But whether email or print, rejection is rejection, and you’re gonna have to get used to it.

Types of Rejection

There are, in my experience, generally three kinds of rejections:

  1. Form rejections, which are comprised of a stock sentence or two and convey nothing about the mood in the office when your story was written or anyone’s reaction to it;
  2. Feedback rejections, when an editor takes the time to jot down some thoughts about your work;
  3. Assholes.

The vast majority of rejections I’ve received have been #1, and that’s fine. We’re all busy and when I submitted my short story to your magazine I did not purchase any sort of editorial service, so we’re good. I’ve gotten a lot of #2s, and they’re always nice, but I rarely do any revision based on them, because I’m arrogant and lazy. The few times I have revised based on a rejection note’s feedback, it has never changed any minds. Let it drift.

I’ve also had a few #3s. Some people just think that their position as Dispenser of Pennies to the Poor Unwashed Writers gives them the right to be nasty. The only thing to do is scratch that market off your list. Don’t worry, they’ll be out of business soon enough.

What do you do with rejection? Make a note of it, take a moment, and immediately submit the story or novel somewhere else. Rejections are just one person’s opinion (maybe two or three, depending). If you still love your story, just keep moving with it. And someday your pile of rejections will be a hilarious detail in a blog.

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