Hard truth: Manuscript submissions are sometimes rejected and not published. Based on my modest experience, rejections in fact outnumber publications by an noticeably wide ratio. In other equally shocking news, puppies and kittens, even the cute and cuddly ones, will grow old and die.
I risk breaking hearts with these hard truths because another publication informed me today that it will refrain from publishing a manuscript I submitted. Darn. I thought the tale was well written and a good fit for the publication but other circumstances must have gotten in the way, like a glut of stories about astrally traveling painters. Or I might have been wrong about the story or its appropriateness. When a slush reader includes comments with a rejection, I always re-read the story and often revise it with those insights in mind. I respect the perspective of someone whose had to read FAR more crappy stories than I have.
I want to have more stories published and as I see it there are three ways I can do that: 1) write better stories, 2) read publications sensitively and frequently enough that I know what market fits a given story and 3) keep submitting. Since I started keeping track a couple years ago, I’ve only made 36 submissions which resulted in 4 publications. A tolerable ratio but not a staggering acheivement to say the least. I really admire writers like Tobias Buckell who are very upfront about how many rejections they’ve received. I mean, a rejection isn’t a character flaw; it’s a fact of a writer’s life.
I set a goal for myself last Thanksgiving to make 100 submissions before Thanksgiving 2012. To mark my progress on this goal, I use the Submission Tracker on Duotrope.com which is also the same resource I use to discover new possible markets. So far, I have made 14 submissions toward this goal. And as of today, I have one more manuscript freed up to submit again.
Even if it still stings just a little bit.