Dealing with rejections

This week, in addition to the ongoing Mary Kelly research, I have been busy revising a couple of fiction pieces. Revision is an important part of a writer’s workload. Sometimes it is polishing drafts until they are ready for submission and sometimes it is making changes to a rejected piece so that it can be sent somewhere else. Rejections tend to outnumber acceptances and the key to dealing with them is to not dwell on the reasons.

A rejection is not a binding assessment of your work, merely the constructive opinion of someone who has more submissions than they need and must decide which ones best suit their audience. Sometimes they are kind enough to provide feedback. Consider that carefully, bearing in mind that a different editor might appreciate the piece without changes.

You can improve your acceptance rate by trying to understand the editor’s needs. Be familiar with the material that he or she likes and has published before. A horror specialist will reject the finest romance. You should also follow the guidelines explicitly, even when that means reformatting your manuscript. Editors will always look more favourably on writers who can follow instructions.

Paul Williams is an author of fiction and non-fiction including Jack the Ripper Suspects: The Definitive Guide and Encyclopedia. During June and July, he will be donating royalties from copies sold in Australia to The Black Dog Institute.

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