1. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Rejection, rejection, rejection...

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by deadrats, Aug 19, 2016.

    I just don't know how more of this I can take. I pretty much send something out every few days, sometimes few weeks. I really put myself and my writing out there. I always try to have at least 25 submissions out. Right now between short stories, essays and some poetry I've got closer to 50 things out. But I just can't seem to really crack this literary journal market the way I want to. My publishing credits are nowhere near adding up to my vision and goals as a writer. Okay. I will admit that I don't want to publish just to publish. I want to break into tough markets. I send my work out to the big dogs mostly. But there are some really great smaller publications I've tried without much luck. Even the smaller ones are places the right people have heard of, and by right people I mean the editors and readers at the bigger publications. Why is this so hard? I've been at it for years. I have no idea if I'm even close to making it or if this is just some sort of life-long pursuit. And because I submit like crazy, I get rejected like crazy. How do you handle rejection when you are really trying your hardest and putting your best work out there? How do you handle years of rejection and still have the nerve to send The New Yorker some of your poetry?
     
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  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's the waiting that gets me, not the rejection (because I write novels rather than short stories) but all that keeps me sane is chatting to a group of writers who are also on submission. Maybe we need a rejection thread here to commiserate with each other...
     
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  3. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Chin up - keep trying.

    You probably get sick of hearing that but I don't know what else to say.

    From a novel point of view, you could go down the self publishing route, but for all the other stuff, I have no idea.

    Maybe you should give it a break for a couple of months and not submit anything until January?

    As writers, we improve all the time, but if you've submitted something to "magazine A" and they rejected it, then sent them something else a week later, they may recognize the name and toss it straight into the 'no thanks' pile without looking at it.

    Perhaps if you give them a chance to miss you, they will either forget the name or when they see it six months later, they might think "oh, I wonder what's changed ...?"

    Just a thought xx
    (((hugs)))
     
  4. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    You might narrate at open mic evenings?

    Otherwise,

    'That bedroom depressive, I don't want to read his book,' is what they say, real people say harsh words to the writer folk.

    All we can do is read a little, read more, read a little bit more again, clear the throat, then write carefully.

    Then maybe, one of us, like a representative in spectacles, is summoned to the office of MacMillan, Tatra, Viking St Justice Publishers in Time Square for a de-briefing. Is that what you want?

    You gotta write. They publish when you dead. It is the way, so get a job till that time.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  5. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Seems to me that you're going at this for the wrong reasons. I mean I could be wrong, but from reading your post your goal seems to be to become published and known as a poet / essayist. But really, your goal, at least your primary one, should be to write your poems and essays. Publishing is something that comes later. And the whole fame side of things is never in your hands. It's in the hands of those who read your work.

    My thought is that you need to go back to basics. Write. And then when you've written, ask yourself this one question - are you happy with what you've written? Because if you are then you've succeeded whatever else may follow. If you aren't, then you have work to do. Don't judge your success on the basis of whether others are willing to pick up and run with your work. Publishers and magazine rejections / acceptances are not the standards by which you should judge yourself. They may have a thousand different reasons for rejecting your work - and few of them literary.

    I live by a saying - I write for me and I publish for others.

    So write and stop worrying about whether magazines or whatever will pick it up. Make sure that it's been done for quality control - that means editing etc. And then at a later stage when you've decided that you truly love what you've written and you can't make it any better, then you can think about publishing. But widen your outlook. Yes feel free to go to the magazines and what have you. But these days you can also self publish. It's a viable alternative, and Kindle Unlimited is probably a great medium for your work. Equally you can choose to put it out for free on your website. Up to you.

    The important thing is to take the dreams of celebrity / reognition and financial success out of the picture. Yes they may happen, but it's important to realise that they are still just dreams. And are they what you really what you want to live your life measuring up to? Instead find a more realistic ambition. Something that satisfies the soul. For many writers that would be finding readers who like your work. Whether it's millions or just a few. Grief if you only find one fan who loves your work and who you've touched with it, isn't that still bloody awesome?!

    And remember most writers who make a living in this business, don't become JK or Stephen King. They build names for themselves over years. Their works don't hit the top of the best sellers lists and they don't become household names. Instead they work at their craft. Putting out work after work over many years, and if they're lucky and hard working, they make a living at it and garner a reputation for themselves as a writer people like reading.

    To my mind that's more important than making oodles of money and hearing your name on the tv etc.

    So in conclusion, write, be proud of what you write, then only when it's ready publish and hope people enjoy it.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  6. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    I think it might work out better if you were more selective in who you sent your work to. Literary journals maybe are not a good goal for the moment. Try something else.

    When I started in photography, I first sent photos to my college news magazine for them to use for free. One of my photos was used in a news article. Then I gave some to a person who does advertising. Some of my photos were used in advertisements. Just gradually built up from there.

    And when I started writing, first it was into my school literary magazine, then a collection made by some local writers and sold for donation at a gallery opening, starting slowly, and benefitting from criticism along the way, it really helps.

    When you get a rejection does the person who rejected it tell you why? Because perhaps you need to make some changes to your work in order to break into a given market. Usually rejections have some indication as to why or a very polite, respectful inquiry will turn up some further information.

    I think there is a lot of writing that's good, but there is an over-supply of the genre, or it might be a theme that unbeknownst to you is already familiar or regarded as overly familiar. There's nothing wrong with working in a different genre or taking a different tack for a while.

    And there's nothing wrong with writing some news stories or personal interest stories, to keep in practice, and to be getting your writing out there. Most of the great writers wrote a lot of other things to pay the bills and to hone their craft at the same time.

    Another smart idea is to take some writer's classes or workshops. This can help you get fresh ideas, but it can also help you meet people and get familiar with new opportunities.

    Or you may need to work on the craft side of your writing. Rejections can be very useful for figuring out what they want and what they are looking for.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  7. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Thanks for the replies, but I'm not sure all that will work for me. There is no way I am going to take a break since I really don't do anything other than write. And this isn't a new thing for me. I even have an MFA, and I only mention that because this is how serious and how much effort I have put into writing literary works. Before all that I was a journalist. It's not just about publishing. I had a long career where I was published all the time. But my focus is different now and this is just really hard. And being rejected by these places means I'm not good enough. And I know there are a lot of places out there that are pretty easy to publish in if someone just wants to publish for the sake of publishing or to put their work out there. But, see, that's not what I want at all. I want to be a good enough writer to get my stuff picked up by any of the many publications I read and admire. I want a story in The Antioch Review. It would mean my work is good enough for that. I think I just needed to vent about this.
     
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I was going to say something like that. Being rejected by The Antioch Review is better, IMO, than being accepted by somewhere that takes anything. Just like being rejected is better than being a writer too afraid to even try to be published.
     
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  9. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    Have you submitted anything to the Antioch Review?

    What do you write?

    Is it like the stuff that is published in the Antioch Review?
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @Tenderiser and @deadrats. There is little value in publishing somewhere that will take pretty much anything, and I don't like to tell authors to fall back on those venues if they're having trouble with the publications they really want. You keep submitting, and while one set of works are out for submission you work on more. If you're getting personalized feedback with your submissions, take it to heart. Last story I sold had been rejected, and then after a personal comment from one of the rejecting editors I made a change and it was accepted next time out. I could have sent it to a market that would accept almost anything, but I don't want to do that with my work.
     
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  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hang in there.

    The short story market is fierce, especially at the more literary end of things.

    And maybe if writing is all that you really do, it shouldn't be? For sanity reasons, maybe it would be good to diversify a bit and find some other challenging pursuits so you aren't over-focused on the super, super difficult one?
     
  12. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Write better work. This isn't a personal judgement from me, it's the market saying "You're not good enough yet. You have to get better". So focus on getting better, not getting published.

    That's the phase I'm in now - I got a few credits on my best efforts, the flukes that were better than I had any right to've spat out, but the rest of the chaff has been rejected over and over again, so it's back to the drawing board to improve.

    We're not good enough to expect publication. And yeah, it sucks. Get better.
     
  13. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Yeah, I hear you, but I've invested a lot into this, and there really isn't anything else I wish to pursue at this point. I treat writing like a job. It's not the writing that makes me crazy. It really is that rejection is hard to take, for me at least. I should probably be used to it by now, but it's always a let down to actually get one. Do you write literary short stories as well? I have a lot of writer friends that just seem to be having an easier time than me. Maybe not. I know where their work has been accepted, but for all I know they write twice as much and send out twice as much. I'm pretty prolific, but isn't there always more you can do?

    Maybe I did need something else in my life besides my obsession with the literary journals. This summer I started writing a screenplay. Of course, I would like it to turn into something, but I'm not sure if I will do anything with it. I told myself when I started this screenplay that I would probably have to write ten screenplays before any of them were even close to being good. Okay, it looks like I picked up another long-shot dream. But I really am writing as much as I can because this is what I want to be doing with my time right now. It just sucks to think that you really might not be good enough even when you do everything you can think of that is in your control to prove the opposite.
     
  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well... I think it might be both more gentle and more accurate to say you're not good enough at giving the market what it currently wants, rather than not good enough at writing overall. (I mean, I haven't read your stuff--maybe you just suck across the board! ;) But I think it's more likely, especially for writers who've put in a lot of time and effort, that they just aren't hitting the currently marketable niches, rather than not writing well in the broader sense)
     
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  15. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Wow. Thanks for this post. It was really nice to read this, especially right now.
     
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  16. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't write literary anything - fuck it, way too hard! Respect to those who do, though.

    And when I said do something else, I didn't necessarily mean another form of writing. I meant, like--start growing roses for the county fair, or cooking really fancy meals, or woodworking, or... (I'm just looking around my sitting area, searching for ideas. Oooh, pottery! Do pottery!) Whatever. The idea was to give your brain a full break from writing.
     
  17. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    @izzybot It's great if that attitude motivates you, but actually once you reach a certain level of competence in writing (which I know you and @deadrats have both achieved) many--maybe even MOST--rejections, are about something other than the quality of the writing. I'm not sure ignoring that is helpful for all of us!
     
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  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I also wouldn't take rejection as a sign that you're not good enough for the market yet. It can mean that, of course - with respect to one or more works. It doesn't have to mean that.

    MZB was a long-time editor of genre publications. While not dealing with literary fiction, I've always found it interesting:

    http://www.mzbworks.com/why.htm
     
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  19. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Or as we say at bootcamp (yes, a fat lass like me does bootcamp) "it doesn't matter how slow you go, you are still lapping all the couch potatoes!"
     
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  20. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Okay, I get ya. It's easy to forget there is a life outside all of this. And since most of my real-life friends are writers it's hard to get around the question of what are you working on or how are the submissions going. It's funny, I don't usually get writers block, but when I do usually a little more living gets me out of it. I do have a party to go to tomorrow. I try to be social, but it's hard sometimes to balance my drive and my outside-writing life. I do read probably more than I write or maybe about the same. I guess my interests are pretty narrow.

    What sort of things do you pursue outside of writing? And that question goes to everyone as well. The idea of picking up anything else where I would have to start at ground zero is just not something I see myself doing. And I just can't think of anything else I could do and reach the same level I am at with my writing.

    Also, I don't think literary fiction is any harder than any other type of fiction. It's just what I enjoy reading. For me, the reading came before the writing. It's also what I studied and have spent years trying to write. YEARS. How crazy is that? Or how crazy am I?

    I have worked for two different literary journals in the past. A lot of it was reading submissions. And most submissions aren't very good. I'm not at the bottom, here, but I am also somewhere below what editors are looking for. And I think the worst rejections are the ones that let you know you were close. I've gotten a few nice rejections from big places. At the end of the day, that means nothing. I guess I'm starting to wonder about how long I am supposed to keep trying. It's really hard to see your friends' work get picked up by really great places while you not having very much luck. I'm just feeling a little left in the dust or envious of my more successful friends. I think maybe I'm a little scared that I will give up, and I don't want that.
     
  21. MarcT
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    MarcT Member

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    I know it's easy for me to say since I'm not in your shoes, but just keep trying and trying.
    Many successful authors were rejected multiple times.
    You'll get there eventually.
     
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  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I work full-time at a fairly demanding job. I ride horses, garden, have a chunk of lakefront property that I'm working on civilizing... lots of stuff. It all takes time way from writing, for sure, but I think it also feeds energy back into my work. When I have time off and could conceivably write full time, I still only seem to have a few hours of writing energy per day.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I enjoy literary fiction a great deal. I don't think I could write it. Genre fiction, on the other hand, I can write :D
     
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  24. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Yes. That is one of the places I submit my work, and I tend to believe it is along the lines of what they publish. I don't know. It's not working out. What do I write? Things I think The Antioch Review would publish. I've been wrong every time.
     
  25. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    Can you be a little more specific about what you write? Can you post a sample? Or link to some already posted?

    What did the Antioch Review people say about your writing? If their reject was a form letter, did you ask them for more detailed feedback? And if you didn't ask for more detailed feedback, how do you expect to ever get accepted in it or a similar journal?

    You seem to be so stuck on getting rejected, that you're not strategizing at all. AT ALL. You just keep saying over and over that you were rejected. You'll never get anywhere that way.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016

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