Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nobody remembers my rejections—except me.

About two years ago I finally got up the nerve to start submitting some of my short stories for publication.  I surprised myself, managing to sell three stories in the space of eighteen months.  The markets were barely paying--$10 to $20 per sale, but they were still sales. If I had been a crackhead, I still don't think I could have gotten a greater high than receiving that acceptance e-mail, with a real editor telling me how much he or she liked my story.

After clearing that milestone, I thought I'd try for semi-pro and pro markets.I knew the moment I decided to submit my stories to tougher markets I'd get a whole lot more rejections.  For the past nine months I've been watching rejection after rejection come in.  My Duotrope acceptance rate has fallen from seven percent to below three percent, and drops further with each rejection.  I'm watching my e-mails with white knuckles, hoping for that one acceptance that will make the long wait worth it.

I submitted my story The Last Hour on Earth to one of my favorite online magazines,, and watched for five months as it filtered through several rounds of cuts, until I got the message  "Thanks for letting us read this. While it made it to our final round of cuts, in the end there were a few stories we liked more."

Asimov's has been my favorite mag since I was a teenager.  In an effort to fulfill my lifelong dream of being published there, I submitted my hard SF story Sailing to Eden.  Two months later, I got the response "Thank you for letting me see "Sailing to Eden." The story is nicely done, but I’m afraid it's not quite right for me. I look forward to your next one, though."

I submitted a darling piece of horror satire The Count to a 5 cent a word publication.  They replied "While we all enjoyed the piece, we opted to go with other stories."

Please forgive my self-centered narcissism, but I think you get the idea.  I would like to think that with just a little more luck, I could have had my first sale to a semi-pro or professional magazine.  It doesn't quite quench the discouragement though.


  1. Sympathies on the rejections, Chuck. Those "R's" do hurt when they come in. As you say, we all get them but it doesn't make them any easier. But the longer we write, the closer we get. You've gotten very, very close. And with your favorite target magazine editor saying she looks forward to your next story--well, that's pretty stellar!! Your stories are delightful. Keep going, you'll get there!

  2. Rejections stink! But they are one more step on a very long stairwell. Keep going!

  3. You're so close. Go search for a four-leaf clover, because all you need is a little luck to push you over the edge.