Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Notes From the Editor's Chair: How to Avoid a Rejection

Mindflights is open to subs again! I'm so pleased with the number of submissions we have received. It's got me thinking about the difference in mindset that I have toward rejection when I'm reading subs as opposed to when I'm submitting my own work somewhere. Obviously, I'm a lot more detached when doling out rejection than I am when receiving it. I thought I'd give some advice on what I look for in the stories that I want to accept.

1. Solid Prose. You know what I'm talking about. Watch the adverbs, show don't tell, etc., etc. I like to read a story written well enough that I don't even think about the prose. I just get lost in the story.

2. Believable characters. It's usually the characters that sell me. I want people I can connect with and care about. People who feel real.

3. Conflict. Yeah, it's got to be there. I don't like stories that don't have any real tension or where everything is solved too easily.

4. Emotional Resonance. I really want to feel something about the story. I want it to move me in some way, even if it's just for a few minutes of fun.

Now, a story might have all those things and still get rejected. Maybe it's not a good fit for the magazine. Maybe they just can't afford it right now. Maybe the editor is having a bad day. Or maybe your story doesn't resonate with me, but it might with someone else. Maybe I can relate to your characters where someone else wouldn't.

The sad truth is that once you've submitted something, the rest is out of your control.  And really, there is no way to avoid rejection. We're all going to face it, probably many times. The trick is to remember that it's OKAY to get rejected. It really is. It doesn't mean your a bad writer or that you'll never make it. It just means that this particular story/novel/query/article isn't right for that particular editor/magazine/agent/publisher. Yes, rejection stings. I hurt every time I get one. But it's not a reason to give up.

Never, ever give up!

29 comments:

Carolyn V. said...

This is why I love ya Angie! Great post! And so true.

WritingNut said...

Great post Angie - you're very right! I have such trouble with those adverbs... argh.

Thanks for the reminder :)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I'm sure your work as an editor has helped you become a good writer! I wish every writer could sit on the the other side at least once.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I look at each rejection as a step closer to publication. Obviously, my piece wasn't a good fit for the house I sent it to (even though I thoroughly researched them and thought they were right). It's okay. I know eventually I'll find a home for my work.

Nice post!

Amanda J. said...

Terrific post! I've recently started reading the slush for a lit agent and I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for sharing! :)

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Terry W. Ervin II said...

Like Rosslyn Elliot said above, sitting on the other side of the submission pile enables a writer to better understand the process and what is necessary to succeed.

Yes, rejection isn't fun, but it is part of the submission process.

Joanne said...

There's something we can often learn from rejections, particularly if it's a personalized one rather than form. Either our work needs tweaking, or we've targeted the wrong place, something we can learn to improve the craft.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Darn! I thought you were going to tell me the trick! :) Just kidding. You're right. it is something we all have to face no matter who we are if we want to be writers. All we can do is our best.

Medeia Sharif said...

Yes, good stories get rejected, too. And they should have all the elements you mentioned.

I received your giveaway in the mail this week. Thank you!

Falen (Sarah) said...

so true! I think too many people get caught up in the rejection and forget that they did something awesome and wrote a story/novel.

Eric said...

Great post, Angie. It's been a while since I've stopped by to comment (for which I humbly apologize), but this is great. I am headed over to Mindflights right after this too.

MT said...

Repeat to self: Rejection is not fatal, rejection is not fatal...That will be good practice for when I start querying. ;)

RaShelle said...

Hey Angie - Thanks for the info and the advice. =D

Angie said...

I think reading subs has been one of the best things I have done for my own writing. I've really learned a lot from it! And I do wish there was some magic secret for avoiding rejection. But there's always something to learn from it, even if it's only perseverance. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Theresa Milstein said...

Angie, it's nice to hear what we need to do to submit our best work. And it's a good reminder to not take rejection personally. I'll try!

Lisa said...

Thanks for the advice! Now if I could just figure out how to see it in my own work...

Velvet Over Steel said...

Great post! Thank you for the tips/advice. I'm very new to writing and appreciate them along with your encouragement and inspiration!!!!
Following and will be back soon!!
Have a Wonderful Weekend! :-)
Hugs,
Coreen

ali said...

Never give up! Never surrender!

Michelle H. said...

Wonderful post! Sometimes we just need that positive reinforcement.

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T. Anne said...

Rejection should be taken with a grain of salt (after the initial sting of course). Being a writer is built on rejection. It's climbing that mountain that counts.

Brandon said...

You're in an interesting spot, Angie. You accept and reject manuscripts, but you also send out your own for acceptance/rejection. I bet that helps you in your own writing, reading all those stories that come in and catching the flaws that turn you off.
Stephen King said to the effect of... he learned a lot more from reading bad writing than from reading amazing writing.

Lindsey Edwards said...

Some solid advice!

Want to say that I really like your blog. I just stumbled upon it and am glad I did.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for the great post, and the honesty about being on both sides of the "rejection-acceptance" letter cycle.
Sometimes when I'm bummed out about a rejection, I know I deserved it because sometimes I think there is more on the page than I've actually put there. My mind supplies all the details that I forget to write down.
I'm glad to hear that Mindlights is getting some breat submissions. I look forward to reading them!

Tyrean Martinson said...

possibly I should edit my comments before I submit them "breat" should be "great."

Jan Markley said...

I recently posted my best rejection letter ever! check it out if you have a chance.

Angela said...

There's only 100% guaranteed way to avoid rejection: don't try.

Good post.

Jackee said...

Hi! Just stopping by again, Angie, to let you know you've won something on my blog. :o)

Have a great weekend!