always with the rejections

I got two rejections this week. One was from an agent I had queried about my novel The Sleep of Reason. I’d sent the query back in October. I’m not surprised that it would take this long to get a response. Given my track record lately, I’m surprised I got a response at all. Is it just me or has it become the norm for agents to simply not respond rather than send a rejection? No worries, though. That novel is now with the Amazon Breakthrough contest, so if the agent had expressed interest, I would have had a quandary. And no one likes a quandary.

The second rejection was for a short story that I’ve been fooling around with for a month or so. I regularly troll the Calendar at Duotrope’s Digest (send them some love in the form of cash), looking for calls that might match up something I have just sitting around. A few weeks ago I found one that looked possible, not likely but possible. I had to monkey with the story a bit since there were some content requirements, so I did, and then I sent the story in. The rejection — a form rejection — came this afternoon. Okay, fine. I didn’t have high hopes for it since I had to rig the story to meet their guidelines. And it was almost a spontaneous submission.

But I got back on the horse, as they say. I revised the story further, and it has already been submitted to another magazine. Onward!

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6 Comments on “always with the rejections”


  1. It does seem the norm to just not get a reply from agents. And…I’m fine with that with the agents that say, “Hey, if I don’t reply, it means I’m not interested.” But the others…I look at my spreadsheet used for tracking queries and think, “Is it now safe to consider this one a done deal? It’s a rejection, right?”

    And when I mark that line of the spreadsheet red, there’s still something in the back of my mind that thinks, “Well, it’s still not a definitive ‘No…'”

    I suppose the day I lose hope is the day I should stop submitting.

    In other news, you just won a book!

  2. Annam Says:

    Definitely onward!

  3. Pete Says:

    I hope that story is better for those last-minute revisions you made. I would never change a finished story to meet specific submission requirements, especially given the low probability of acceptance.

  4. Shawn Says:

    I kind of disagree a bit with Pete above. I think it’s fine to change a story to meet whatever requirements you wish. But, I say “kind of” disagree… because, after all, each story belongs to the writer. If you or I want to change something, great. If Pete doesn’t, that’s great, too.

    The first thing I thought, though, when I read the last couple lines of this entry?

    “That’s a healthy attitude to have toward rejections.”

  5. Averil Dean Says:

    I’m with Shawn, full of admiration for your positive attitude. I have to be coaxed out from under the bed when I get one. Two in a week would have me under there with a bottle of gin. So good for you, my friend. Carry on.

  6. Paul Lamb Says:

    Christopher – Which is why the idea of a site not accepting (or accepting the possibility of) simultaneous submissions seems arrogant and unfeasible to me. Looking forward to the book (which happens to be set in my part of the world).
    Annam – I’ve taken a page from your blog on this. I think your open approach to rejections (well, responses) is healthy and can keep one humble.
    Pete – Honestly, I think the story was worse for the changes I had made to it before so that it would fit the content requirements of the first submission. I got it back in shape for the second.
    Shawn – I suppose in a perfect world, a perfectly written story would never need changing; it would be complete and “finished” as it stood. Alas, I don’t live in that world. Thanks for thinking my attitude is healthy. It’s something I’m working on.
    Averil – I find it hard to believe that someone with your moxie would take a rejection that hard. But maybe it’s an interesting place under your bed. I’d probably take a twelve-pack of beer with me.


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