When I first got up the nerve to send my scribblings out into the world, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I did a little internet research to find a seemingly suitable place to peddle my work, but it was an unknown world to me. That was April 2019.
Since then I’ve submitted literally hundreds of times to a host of magazines, websites, anthologies, any place that puts out a call for submissions. I’d be lost without my spreadsheet of when what submitted where to whom.
One of the nice surprises was the friendly rejection letters. I don’t know if it’s always been that way, or the ease of email took the edge off their nerves, but it’s a nice touch. It’s obviously a canned reply, but shows that it takes no extra work to be nice to people when saying no. That’s a good thing considering the number of rejections that have crowded my inbox.
I follow a few blogs by successful writers, always interested in pointers and found there’s apparently a hierarchy of rejections. The vast majority of mine have been along the order of thanks for submitting, we enjoyed the story, not right for us, please remember us and send more. That kind of response, especially the last two words is supposedly the first level lower than acceptance. It means they think you have potential. According to the authors I’ve followed, that kind of rejection is the gold standard for acknowledgment that you have something going on.
A few of my lesser stories garnered rejections of basically thanks for your interest. No invitation to try again. I guess this is the second tier of rejections. I imagine there are even lower levels. I wonder how bad you have to be to get a restraining order filed against you? Not that it’s ever happened to me. Well, not exactly. I have been banned from one site. I had sent a fairly grim story with sexual violence and neglected to attach a trigger warning. Apparently I offended the sensibilities of someone on their staff. I figure if you put out a call for stories, you have to expect a few graphic episodes. But now I attach trigger warnings to nearly all my stories, even ones going to horror sites. I checked with some editors I liked, worried that being banned might hurt me in a wider arena, but they said not to worry, nobody paid attention to the yahoos at that particular site.
Sometimes, even though the rejections are canned, an editor attaches a personal note. These are always special. One said that she adored the story, but I should consider expanding it into a longer work. A note on a rejection of my Little Green Men story said an entire magazine issue should be devoted to that work, but his wasn’t the magazine to do it. I got a nice note on a rejection that came in today. I had submitted The Stick Men to a horror anthology. It’s adapted from a story my mom told be from her childhood. After the standard rejection verbiage the editor added that the story was rejected because they ran out of room. He asked that I please resubmit it for their next anthology. Hey, that’s almost an acceptance. I’ll take it as one, anyway. So assuming it’s still available, I’ll send it along to them when the window opens for their next anthology, sometime the middle of this year. It’s nice to have a foot in the door, so to speak.