Just got my 1100th short story rejection yesterday. Shockingly, I continue to get rejected at pretty much the same pace as before I’d ever sold a story.
- 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 next milestone)
- 800 – April 17, 2012 (197 days to next milestone)
- 900 – October 31, 2012 (173 days to next milestone)
- 1100 – April 25th, 2013 (198 days to current milestone)
Since my first story submission went out on 12/20/03, this fruit of just almost ten whole years of submissions! That is a lot of rejections.
This was not even close to being my most successful century. Since getting my 1000th rejection, I’ve only sold one story: “The Days When Papa Takes Me To War” to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Whereas I’d previously been averaging around 3-5 acceptances per 100 submissions. Part of it is that I started intensively submitting to literary magazines, where I think my odds are lower. But part of it is just the natural vicissitudes of a writing career. As you write, you go through flapping phases and gliding phases. When you flap, you gain altitude (i.e. you become a better writer), but you look extremely ungainly (i.e. there’s a certain roughness to your stories). When you glide, you’re not getting any better, but you look pretty smooth (i.e. your stories come out more polish). Hmm, this metaphor might’ve been more trouble than it’s worth.
Sometimes, though, I encounter people who are surprised that I still get rejected so often. To them, I say…yes, it actually is a bit surprising. Most writers who’ve sold 15 or 20 stories at professional rates are not getting rejected as of often as I do. Actually, most writers–even those who’ve been publishing and submitting for decades–don’t have as many rejections as I do. What can I say? Different people go about things in different ways. And sometimes different people go about things in the same way, but they get different results.
Actually, I don’t really get disappointed by short story rejections. Instead, I tend to just forget that it’s even possible to get an acceptance. Whenever one comes, it’s actually a bit shocking to me.