How do you spell rejection? I can spell it any number of ways, like, “No thanks!” “Sorry, we covered this last month,” “Too contrived,” or just no response at all. Those are some things that were written on my manuscripts over the years.

Manila Folders
Image by Jamiesrabbits via Flickr

Sure getting that kind of stuff back can be demoralizing. But you know what? Those were handwritten notes from editors, which told me something! They were at least reading my stuff.

Prior to those notes, I was getting form letters or postcards back, and it was like my manuscripts had never been touched. So, when I got the notes above, I was happy! At least they were reading what I sent in. That was a major milestone for me.

And I kept that pile of rejections. Actually, I kept them all. The form letters were in this very full manila envelope, but I kept these little notes in a separate envelope. These comments helped me and I’ll show you how.

The first one: “No, thanks!”

I wrote a short note back asking the editor what type content she was looking for. I got an assignment from that, which was very cool. The editor couldn’t use the story I sent, but she liked my style and asked me to write something else. Cool!

The second one: “Sorry, we covered this last month.”

Same thing.  I wrote back and asked if they had something else in mind. I don’t remember if I got an assignment from that, but I probably didn’t. And the reason I didn’t was because I hadn’t done my homework. I hadn’t researched the magazine to know that they’d covered it. My bad.

But I learned. Never send an article until you read the past 6 issues of the magazine and checked Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature to see what magazines had published similar stories in the 12 months before. Duh.

The third one: “Too contrived.”

Yep. She was right. When I looked back over my story, I realized that it wasn’t believable because there was a deus ex machina at work.  I corrected it and sent it off again. It never did sell, but I learned something from that rejection, which is my point.

A rejection letter can be a wealth of information. You just have to look for it.

But you can NEVER allow rejection letters to stop you. They’re all part of the game.

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