Last Friday, I got a form rejection from Nature. That rejection was my 800th short story rejection. That number is so impossibly high. It is 123 stories that have been rejected from 175 markets. Since I sent out my first submissions on December 20th, 2003, I've gotten, on average, a rejection every four days. For a long time, the only things that I got were rejections, so I looked to my rejection count as a primary writing indicator. More submissions meant more chances at success, but it also meant more rejections. Since rejections were directly correlated with submissions, rejections were good. It meant that I was making progress.
And now I have soooooo many! I am absurdly proud of my rejection count. Awhile back, Jay Lake had a thread on how many rejections people had gotten before making their first pro sale (you can even see me comment on it; back then I had only a puny 312 rejections), and my number was so much higher than most people's. Until then, I'd simply assumed that almost everyone had to garner a few hundred rejections before making any decent sales. But that is actually not the case.
In any case, here is a list of my other rejection milestone posts. As you can see, I am actually getting rejected much more often now than I was at the beginning of my career. This is a little surprising, since my stories tend to get held longer than they used to and they're more likely to sell (both of which tend to reduce rejection-count). I think that my increased productivity and diligence in submitting have, for now, more than made up for any increase in writing skill.
- 300 – August 8, 2008 (401 days to next milestone)
- 400 – September 13, 2009 (282 days to next milestone)
- 500 – June 22, 2010 (268 days to next milestone)
- 600 – March 17, 2011 (208 days to next milestone)
- 700 - October 11, 2011 (185 days to current milestone)
In the comments to one of these posts, someone wrote in praise of my tenacity, and I wrote back saying that tenacity was all well and good, but sooner or later one has to take the hint. I wrote that if I wasn't seeing much success by the time of my eight hundredth rejection, I might consider quitting. Luckily, my success has come fast enough (for now), to forestall weariness. In terms of sales, this last century has been the best one yet. I've sold six stories, all at pro rates, to Daily SF, Clarkesworld, Apex, IGMS, Redstone, and a theme anthology whose editor will hopefully get back to me soon on whether it's okay to announce the sale to y'all. That is some pretty good selling right there, and it includes two markets--Apex and IGMS--which had rejected me 21 and 22 times (respectively) before finally accepting something of mine.