Shields up!

Posted: July 28, 2014 in Regarding writing
Tags: ,

To be a writer you need a thick skin. This is not only because you probably are going to get rejected, A LOT, but also because, even when you are published, your work won’t appeal to everyone, so you’ll need to get used to negative reviews as well.

I’ve developed a pretty thick skin over the years. It’s not perfect, like a force field in Star Trek there are places where it’s a lot thinner, and if you fire a photon torpedo of rejection at just the right angle you will probably piss me off, but on the whole I’ve learned to be fairly relaxed about the process. I know I’m a good writer, it’s just that sometimes other writers are better, or my story isn’t quite right for a particular publication, and over the years I’ve found homes for plenty of stories that were initially rejected. Sadly the truth is that yours might be the 13th best story out of 150 that were submitted, but if the anthology only has space for 12 there’s nothing you can do about that.

Sometimes though, however powerful my shields are, something happens that really rubs me up the right way, and such a thing happened today. I won’t name the publisher, but I submitted a story back in October 2013 for an anthology that was supposed to be published this month. Finally today the table of contents has been published. My story was clearly rejected yet I received no rejection email, there wasn’t even a quick message on the website along the lines of “If you haven’t heard from us we’re afraid your story has been rejected. We wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.” No, instead I (and ones presumes the other rejected) have been left hanging for weeks, possibly months.

Rejection is annoying, and a form rejection that gives no indication of whether your story had any merit, or how it could be improved, is more annoying, but they’re both an acceptable part of the biz. Not even having the decency to send a form rejection email on the other hand, well I think that’s a bit crappy. At the end of the day I have what I think is a decent story, and whilst it may not be right for this particular editor/publication, that doesn’t mean it won’t find a home elsewhere, but unless I know it’s been rejected I can’t send it elsewhere (because publishers frown on simultaneous submissions don’t ya know!) .

For all I know the perfect home for my story has been and gone. A publisher who would have paid pro-rates and a publication that would have been seen by a big shot Hollywood producer who’d buy the rights to my story for a million bucks and…well ,you get the point.

So in this instance a bit of phaser fire has penetrated my shields and caused some minor hull damage. Nothing too serious thankfully. The majority of publishers and editors are great, but in this instance someone else will have their name added to a very small list of persons I won’t submit to again.

That’ll show em!

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