Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor

Rejection is Part of the Game

By VS Grenier
© 2007, VS Grenier

It’s been four months; you know there should be a call coming any moment from the editor of the magazine (or book publisher) where you sent your manuscript.  How could he turn down your story about the shy kid finding the lost ticket booth money?  You studied the magazine and spent months writing and revising your story, and your critique group loved it.  But the phone isn’t ringing.

You’re afraid to get your mail.  It’s been three days and you wonder how much more mail the postman could stuff into the little box.  You take a deep breath and open your mailbox.  

There it is….a big fat 9x12 envelope with your name on it.  No, it couldn’t be…but it is.  Your manuscript has been rejected.  Well at least you still have two more manuscripts in submission—no, wait, there's another envelope…one more—no, there's another one…You know have no manuscripts in circulation. 

That’s it!  Time to throw the towel in.  Three rejections in one day.  How many other writers has this happened to, you wonder.  Well the fact is…Lots!

Yes, I had three rejections in one day.  I really had my hopes up on Highlights for Children.  After all, I’ve been reading their magazine my whole life, first as a young reader and later to my children, but that didn't mean I sent them the right story. 

James Giblin once said, “I’d worked as a children’s book editor for more than 15 years, but still I felt uncertain.  Did I have what it took to be a writer, or would I just make a fool of myself?”

I felt like a fool after three rejections in one day.  However, I didn’t throw in the towel.  I kept at it, writing until my hands bled.  Ok, maybe not until they bled, but close enough to it. I sent out more manuscripts, and as each rejection came back, I made notes.  They helped me prepare for the big day when I was able to say, “I’m published!”

Here’s what I have learned:

Besides having a great manuscript, you’ll also need to make sure it’s something editors want to buy.  What good is your story if it’s not what editors are looking for?  If you can’t find a place to send it, hold on to the story.  It doesn’t mean the plot isn’t any good.  You just need the right place at the right time to submit. That’s when editors will pick it up and say, “Hey, this is what I was looking for.” 

Next you’ll want to target your market before your manuscript is polished.  This means read their publications.  I mean really read them.  By reading multiple books or magazine issues, you’ll know what trends the magazine or book publisher is following.  And it helps.

Once you’ve written a marketable manuscript and found the right magazine or publisher, it’s time to submit.  Make sure you study each magazine's or publisher's guidelines.  You’ll be surprised how many ask for different things.  Some want a query letter and writing samples before they even see your manuscript.  Above all, don’t over submit.  If you’ve already sent a manuscript to an editor two to four months ago, hold off.  Editors are busy and don’t need an over zealous writer on their hands.

In the end you’ll have to deal with the rejection letter if it comes.  There are so many kinds that it’s hard knowing what they mean, but take notes and keep track of any suggestions.  Remember to keep writing.  One day you’ll get that email or phone call saying, “We would like to publish your story or article.”