…although we enjoyed reading your work, it wasn’t the right fit for us but we wish you the best of luck sending it elsewhere.
Sound familiar? If it doesn’t then maybe you haven’t yet taken the risk of sending your work out into the world. It can make you feel vulnerable and can play with your confidence and sense of self as writer.
Why didn’t they like it?
Did I miss something?
Was it too slow, too long, not enough dialogue?
The wrong style?
Did I miss something in the rules?
It may be that one or several of the above is true, but the reality is that writing is an art form and it is highly subjective. How many times have you heard someone rave about a short story or a book and you begin to read it and your heart sinks? You wonder how you could feel so differently and whether you might just be in the wrong frame of mind. You reread it at a later date, but still you feel the same lack of enthusiasm for it?
How about going to see a film or an art gallery? You look at something that catches you, captures your imagination, it stays with you, leaves it’s mark. You share your enthusiasm with someone who has seen it, or was there with you, and their face shows no expression. They tell you it did nothing for them, or they move on and your heart sinks a little because they might have missed something of the magic of what you saw or felt.
It’s the same with literary magazine and journal editors, agents and publishers. What may end up as recycling for one person could be another person’s gold. When editors tell you that it, “wasn’t for us” or, “didn’t quite fit our magazine,” they are telling you the truth. It doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad story (although that is possible) but that it really didn’t grab them enough to take it.
I have had many stories published online and in print, some in anthologies and some have won competitions. I have experienced the highs of a competition win or another publication, and the lows of rejection. We all do as writers, and even the most revered authors have faced many rejections.
C.S. Lewis faced years of rejections before The Chronicles of Narnia came to print, going on to sell over 100 million copies worldwide. After 5 years of continual rejection, Agatha Christie, landed a publishing deal. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has had more books sold. Here is a list of bestsellers which were initially rejected.
Author JK Rowling was famously rejected numerous times by agents and then when she had found an agent, her book was rejected by 12 publishers before eventually being picked up. Here is a list of 20 brilliant authors whose work was initially rejected, including John Le Carre (who was told he “hasn’t got any future”), Anne Frank, Stephen King, Louisa May Alcott, Proust, EE Cummings, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell ( who was told, “there is no market for animal stories in the USA) and James Joyce, among others. So, if you have recently had a story rejected, or a book, you are in very good company.
Invest your time in reading and in writing and keep going.
Do not give up.