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Rejections aren’t the end.

October 23, 2017

I have heard many writers say they don’t know why they even try. Why they keep producing and producing and nothing seems to sell. Some blame the publishers. Call them assholes and idiots. They wouldn’t know a good story if it stared them in the face. Well, yes they do.

I’ve been writing since 1984 and have suffered the rejection bit many times. It is frustrating to say the least. You work hard on a story that you enjoy and then submit. After a few weeks (most of the time it is months) and a rejection comes in the email saying thanks for submitting but the story is just not right for our magazine. Bummer? Yes. But not the end.

Back when I started pounding the keyboards, there were many small press magazines to submit to. My stories were mostly supernatural tales and there were a boat load of those magazines in existence. Some gave me the form reject and sent my story back, (that was in the mail the hardcopy days. SASE envelope sent with the hardcopy so they could send it back with a rejection).

In those early days, I acquired a whole desk drawer full of rejections. Some standard, some with a bit of help on what was wrong with the story. Especially one Supernatural magazine called The Horror Show. The editor publisher must have seen something in my writing and critiqued every story I sent him. He was a big help in making my writing stronger and easier to read.

I sold two in those days (both magazines out of print) and was very happy. One was a freebie, the other I got paid four dollars for which made me happy because, it might not have been much but it  made me a published-paid writer. Personal problems took me away from the keyboards for a while. Life can do that if you let it but it was my second wife who, after reading those two tales, asked my why I wasn’t still writing. I had no answer for her and she informed me that if I didn’t start again, she would kick my ass.

I did, and the first story I wrote, One for Black Pedals called Dust to Dust, was accepted. No pay but I was back on track again. After that, there were still rejections. I was still paying my dues so to speak. I had switched from supernatural to hard-boiled detective stories but still wrote the occasional supernatural tale from time to time.

By then, the small press magazine market was smaller. Not the usual mega listings that had been around when I first started. Especially in the detective field. So, I turned my detective short into a novel and published it myself. In fact, a small press company named Paperback Press published the book for me. It was self publishing, my book, three of them in a series, placed on Kindle and did fine.

I’m no salesman though, my marketing skills them not up to par. Nonexistent really. Still, the book did okay so I can’t complain except to myself for not marketing the book better. Such is the way things go. I have now realized (with advice from a friend) that I need to treat my writing as a business. Do social media more. Blog and keep in touch with my readers.

Which is what I am doing now. as to the rejection. Every writer will experience it. Even the best get shot down at some time or the other. My advice, put your ego on the back burner. Listen to what editors tell you is wrong with the story and fix it. Don’t think that your story is the best ever written. It isn’t. Rejection is what is called paying your dues and if you listen to those that call out your faults in the story, then your writing will grow and someday, a check will come in the mail. It might not be much but you can claim the honor of being a paid author.


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