Last week there were four rejections at the writers’ group in Staffordshire I’ve been visiting on a monthly basis. Three were short stories and one was an article. Obviously, the mood was one of despondency, but then we started analysing the rejections.
The stories had all been given reasons for the rejections. Editors don’t have to do that. But now, as we went through the rejection letters, we realised we had something to work on … if we were going to try for that market again. It’s worth bearing in mind that rejections are just one person’s/market’s opinion. And any help an editor gives is for that specific market. This actually leaves the writer with two choices: to try another market by adapting their piece to fit that, or to take on board the editor’s suggestions and to rewrite to resolve those issues and then resubmit.
The article rejection was a shame, because the writer was so close to an acceptance. The writer had written an article and a magazine assistant had written back asking if the writer could rewrite it and make it a bit more personal. So the writer did and resubmitted. The magazine assistant got back in touch and said that the writer had now made this version too personal, and would they mind if the magazine assistant rewrote it merging the two versions into one? Well, the writer was happy for the magazine to do this. Then, when the editor saw the piece, they decided that the area of the UK this article covered had been covered too recently, and therefore the piece had to be rejected. This is just one of those things that happens. The writer was so close, and by doing what the magazine wanted was getting closer to acceptance.
Although this wasn’t the outcome that these writers wanted, I reminded them that to be rejected they’d had to write something and submit it in the first place. The three short story writers now had something tangible to work on to rewrite their stories, because the editor had given them a clue. And the article writer had got very close, and was therefore thinking of the right sort of material for the magazine and their target readership, so it would be worth having another go and sending something else in. Let’s face it - the magazine assistant is going to remember the writer’s name after all that previous correspondence.
So, despite all the rejection we decided it wasn’t the end of the world after all. There was some hope, and everyone had an idea about what step to take next.
Remember to add a dose of realism when you next get a rejection.