Wednesday, 10 February 2016

No more rejections?

During a decluttering session last week, I came across these cartoons that I drew way back in 1990 for the long-departed Writers’ Monthly magazine.

It occurred to me that they just wouldn’t work today because writers no longer collect piles of rejection slips – at least, not the paper ones.

Our books, stories and articles are still turned down by editors and publishers of course, but the bad news is more likely to be delivered by email than Royal Mail. Many smaller publishers, online magazines and websites don’t even bother to send any kind of rejection. They simply say that if they don’t contact you within 'x' number of weeks or months you can assume your submission has been unsuccessful.

There are some writing traditions I’m glad to have left behind – typewriters for example – but I wish now that I’d kept all my old rejection slips. I did have a cardboard folder full of them at one time. I tried to see them as a record of my progress rather than proof of failure.

For example, my first rejection from one magazine was an unsigned, Xeroxed slip of paper. The next one was the same, but with the addition of someone’s scribbled initials. My third or fourth was signed on behalf of the editor, and then - oh, joy! - I received one not only signed in person by the editor, but with a handwritten sentence added saying something like my story was nicely written but not quite good enough. It was still a flat rejection, but knowing that my work had at last reached as far as the editor’s desk made me even more determined to keep trying.

These days, I do keep ‘encouraging’ rejections for a while – those where someone has taken the time and trouble to explain the reason for rejection – but a standard ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ email is usually deleted straight away.

How about you? Do you keep your rejections? Do they depress you, or spur you on?      
PS  I’ve just noticed some other things that make these cartoons quaintly old-fashioned. Visits in person to the tax office are almost unheard of now, and the amount I spend on postage in the course of a year’s writing is hardly worth claiming as a business expense.

PPS  As useful as rejection slips can be, an acceptance is always better. Very pleased to report that the first few stories I’ve submitted to Alfie Dog Fiction for my story collection have not been rejected!


Patsy said...

I've composted all my paper rejections and used them to grow flowers.

Linda D said...

Brilliant, Patsy! At least something good has come from them.

Wendy's Writing said...

Like Patsy, I don't keep any magazine rejections. I do keep ones from any agents with useful feedback on my novel though.

Susan A Eames said...

Love those cartoons, Linda. (I don't keep rejections!)

Julia Thorley said...

I love your cartoons, but yes: how times change. I had three rejections on the same day last week, which a bit grim, so I sent them out again the same day. Waiting to hear...

Susan A Eames said...

Linda, how did you get the Alfie Dog logo and link on your page - I'd like to do the same but can't figure out how!

Linda D said...

Hi Susan,
You can try copying the logo from my blog, or contact Rosemary and ask her to email a copy to you.
Save the image on your computer and then go to your Blogger dashboard.
Click the little arrow next to the ‘Go to post list’ icon - this shows you more options.
Click on layout. Choose where you want to put the logo (sidebar, header, footer?) and click on the blue ‘Add a gadget’.
This will give you a list of options, scroll down to ‘Image’ and click the + sign.
Use the 'browse' button to find the logo on your computer, and put Alfie Dog’s web address (or address of your Alfie Dog page) in the ‘link’ box. Don’t forget to click SAVE! This will take you back to the layout page. You can use the preview button at the top to check it looks okay, and then click ‘Save arrangement’.
Very important to save - or you'll have to start all over again!

Susan A Eames said...

Thank you for giving me such comprehensive instructions, Linda - much appreciated!

Jean Knill said...

I've just visited Alfie Dog, Linda, and bought your stories. I may be inspired to give you some competition.

Linda D said...

Thank you, Jean! Very kind of you. Hope you like them. Very pleased to hear you're trying some fiction now, I'll look forward to reading some of yours.