Got my 1100th short story rejection

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.

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.

6 thoughts on “Got my 1100th short story rejection

  1. debs

    Yay for statistics. I don’t find it surprising at all. I know quite a few writers who have similarly robust rejection stats, ahem , me for starters.

      1. debs

        Ha! I reckon I have more. I don’t keep it as a stat, but 20-30 a month for the last 5 years, take off my acceptances, I reckon 1200 for short stories. That’s excluding non-English language and poetry subs.

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