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Miranda: Another perspective on rejection

Those of you who receive the Glimmer Train newsletter may have seen this already, but for everyone else, here’s a reassuring take on rejection from Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay it Forward among other novels. An excerpt from her article:

It might sound like dwelling on the negative if I say I received 122 short story rejections before my first acceptance. But, for writers just starting out, it’s important to hear. If you know I was rejected more than a thousand times while placing 50 stories, it might be hard for you to justify giving up after five printed slips….Just about every one of my rejected stories has gone on to be published. Without further revision. Some were rejected a handful of times. Others garnered over 50 rejections before finding a home.

Hyde offers several reassuring reasons for why submissions may be rejected. Her full article (it’s short) is online at Glimmer Train.

What’s your own personal quota on submitting before you “shelve” a piece? Five, ten, twenty–no limit? Personally, if a short story I wrote isn’t accepted or doesn’t place in a contest, I look at it again, revise, and send it on out. I like the feeling of having stories in the queue somewhere–sure, the chances of publication or winning are usually small, but it’s a numbers game. You certainly can’t sell or win if you’re not submitting. If you believe in what you wrote, keep it out there.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. I agree that it’s a numbers game, and i guess it’s a matter of how much you believe in your own work and how much tme you wan to invest in it.

    I read that John Grisham received 28 rejection letters for “A Time To Kill”. There are lots of stories about famous writers being rejected by publishers and agents.

    Writers have to have lots of faith and stamina.

    April 10, 2008
  2. gaijinmama #

    I have a couple of stories that I placed after 15 or 16 submissions. I have another one that I sent out at least 23 times before it found a home. You have to remember that opinions about fiction are highly subjective, and even if a story is well-executed, it might not strike a chord with whoever’s reading on the other end for one reason or another. Some literary journals get up to a thousand submissions per month!

    April 11, 2008
  3. I love to hear rejection stories. They give me the energy to keep sending out my work! Thanks for this!

    April 14, 2008
  4. Linda Magid #

    I thought I would have to go 20 rejections before getting an acceptance with a personal essay. I ended up going on 7! I know that is unusual, and I can’t use that as the normal number, but still, I am thrilled!

    April 17, 2008
  5. Congratulations, Linda! Good for you. There may not be any “normal” number, but your experience shows that persistence is vital. Many people would have given up after even two or three rejections.

    April 17, 2008
  6. I’ve lost count. Does that count for anything? 🙂

    April 20, 2008

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