Handling Rejection & Acceptance Letters: Part 1


If you’re a writer, your writing will be rejected. If it hasn’t yet, it will be. I guarantee it.

I’m not being a Debbie Downer, I’m just stating the facts. If you want to write stories, and send them off to magazines or publishers, most of the time you will be rejected. Just ask Stephen King, J.K Rowling, and every other writer alive.

I started sending short stories to magazines at the tender age of 13. I had this idea for a Sci-fi story about fishing in the future. Let’s call it “Frantic Futuristic Fisherman” or FFF for short. The writing was horrendous. There was absolutely no plot. And the main character had as much personality as a watermelon.

And, of course, being an arrogant 13-year-old, I sent it to one of the biggest sci-fi mags in the U.S. called Analog. And FFF got rejected. It was such a horrible story, that I didn’t get a personal letter from the editor in response. I just got a generic “Please try again”.

Then, I stopped writing for a while. My confidence was gone. Then, in 8th grade, a poem of mine was published in a school district anthology. That collection was hardly quality literature. It was full of young teen angst. I don’t even think I kept the thing.

But it gave me confidence back, and I went back to writing. So I wrote a story about a dog morphing into a human. Sent that off. I got a response from the editor; a personal response this time. “Your story is burning in Hell.” An even worse response than that generic one from Analog.

Then I wrote another story for yet another magazine. This magazine was one for Christian Sci-fi. I thought, gee I went to Sunday church, I can write Christian themed Sci-fi! Piece of cake, or so I thought. I wrote a story about alien missionaries dying as martyrs. Perpetua of the future! Lets call it “Jesus Freaks From Outer Space”. It got rejected. The response was “Not the kind of story for the magazine.”

At least they didn’t say go to hell.

I wanted to scream. I got another no, and had no idea why. I Googled how to handle story rejections, and read many a book on the craft of writing. Here is what I found through reading, and sending out stories.

  1. Keep writing. No one was ever born a writer. All writers had to practice, and hone their skills before they became good writers. The ones who are never published, are the ones who gave up on their dreams. Never ever give up on any dream. Stay positive!
  2. Rewrite. Every time you get rejected, rewrite the story. But only rewrite the tale you feel needs to be told, a story you feel passion for. After you rewrite, send it out again. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
  3. Don’t argue with the editors. I have never argued with a magazine editor. I’ve heard stories of pissed off writers, don’t be one of them. If you think arguing will get you published, don’t write, find something else your good at. The customer is always right, because in the end it’s the editor who will buy your tale.

That ends Part 1 of this series. Part 2 on Acceptance Letters is coming soon! 😀


One comment

  1. Good post; all true. In art, you have to be prepared to get your heart stomped on some. Ah, but when they start to say yes, it is all worth it.

    Dr. Tom Bibey, author, The Mandolin Case” (Available as free download for Amazon Prime members at this time.)

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