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Yes, I Still Get Rejections

A while back, I posted something on Facebook about a rejection I’d received on a project. I was a bit taken aback when several people offered to “have a talk” with the editor. Others questioned the editor’s mental health for rejecting a Jim Hines story. It was flattering, in a way — I love that I have fans who are so enthusiastic about reading new stuff from me — but I think it might also reflect a basic misunderstanding.

Rejections are part of the job. They don’t suddenly stop when you become more successful. They’re less frequent, yes. Much less frequent, and my own mental well being is unspeakably grateful for that. But with the possible exception of folks like Rowling and King, we all risk rejection when we write.

Over the past year, I wrote a short story for an anthology that got cancelled. Another editor said they were interested, so I sent the story their way. They read it, said some nice things, and rejected the story. And they were right to do so.

I’ll be honest, I would have loved to sell a story to this particular editor and venue, but the story I had written didn’t match the tone and style of the venue. I appreciate them taking a chance on reading the story, but they have every right to turn it down. It’s their job to turn it down. Because it wasn’t the right story for them.

I have another project my agent has been shopping around. We’ve gotten some very nice rejections, generally saying things like it’s not quite right for that particular line, or it’s close but this or that or the other didn’t work for them.

In a slightly older example, I had a friend reject me because the story I’d written utterly missed what they were looking for in the guidelines.

Does it still sting? Sure. Twenty-two years into this, I still hate getting rejections. But I’m not unrealistic enough to think every word I write is made of gold and perfectly-suited to all editors and publishers in the world, bar none. Sometimes I’m able to sell the rejected work elsewhere, to an editor/venue that’s a better fit. Sometimes I’m not.

That’s how the business works. Even after 12 books and 50+ short stories in print. Not because the editors are misguided or wrong or blind to my brilliance, but because they’re doing their jobs.

As someone who’s currently on both sides of the desk (co-editing Invisible 3 with Mary Anne Mohanraj as well as continuing to write my own stuff), let’s keep in mind that being a good editor is hard, just like being a good writer.

As for those rejections? I recommend three things.

  1. Get the story back out there.
  2. Keep working on the next one.
  3. Eat ice cream as necessary.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
mt_yvr
Mar. 28th, 2017 09:40 pm (UTC)
I'm curious if the number of books/popularity/this thingie can afford you a buffer in the rejection in that people might be more inclined to work with you.

I assume rejections will always happen. I assume that what I write won't always fit - which has nothing to do with my writing but with whether or not it's a fit. (shrug) I just kind of wonder if after a certain point a level of awareness of you as an author doesn't allow for editors/readers of submissions to say "ok, look, we know you have it in you to write a good one for us, how about another submission or a total rewrite of this one". Literally. Wondering. That's a question. Does that happen? lol

I want to believe in that world. :P
jimhines
Mar. 28th, 2017 09:47 pm (UTC)
I've never had an editor flat-out say they were giving me a chance at a rewrite because they know I can do better. But I suspect it does happen, yes.

You also reach a point where you're being invited to submit to an anthology, in which case the editor is more likely to work with you to make your story publishable rather than flat-out reject you after an invitation. (This is where I end up writing most of the short fiction I do these days.)
mt_yvr
Mar. 28th, 2017 10:03 pm (UTC)
Your example is what I was trying to say. That's more what I was thinking. Just a bit more breathing room for a writer when they have more an known quality to them. Not that it would make/break a sale but. You know.
nick_kaufmann
Mar. 28th, 2017 10:45 pm (UTC)
The third recommendation is really the most important one.
deborahjross
Apr. 1st, 2017 05:38 pm (UTC)
I always figured that if I wasn't getting rejection slips, I wasn't taking enough chances.
deborahjross
Apr. 1st, 2017 05:39 pm (UTC)
I always figured that if I wasn't getting rejection slips, I wasn't taking enough chances.
mtlawson
Apr. 2nd, 2017 07:13 pm (UTC)
Well, I guess it must be a shock to some people that nobody is perfect, but that the important thing is to get off the mat and keep going.

And it's nice to see that there are some rabid Jim Hines fans out there.
filkferengi
Apr. 3rd, 2017 07:17 pm (UTC)
What they don't publish in their anthologies comes back to you, to pile up and make a collection for me to buy. Everyone wins!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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