Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Writer and the Literary Press: The rejection and the acceptance

Once the best possible short story (or poem) has been written, rewritten and rewritten again, then the best market has been discovered and the submission has been made, we wait. That's right, we wait.

We wait some more.

Seasons change. And we wait. In this waiting process, there are a few things that can happen. First, there is excitement, after all, we've just written the best poem (or short story) and we've let it go out into the literary world. Then the excitement wanes and uncertainty creeps in like a Lovecraft haze slowly infecting us. Did we really write the best piece? Was our cover letter good enough? Did we pick the best magazine for the submission? Are we really fit to be writers? And we wait. We wait some more.

Then comes the answer. There are only two answers. Yes, we want that acceptance letter, “Your piece is perfect for our magazine, and you'll be featured in the next issue.” The acceptance letter will rejuvenate you, energize you, make you sure that every decision you've ever made has been the right decision. But the reality is, the rejection letter is probably on the way, “Thank you for submitting but after careful examination, your piece does not fit out needs at this time, good luck placing elsewhere.” This is the windless sails, the rainy parade that just sucks after the long wait. It is this very feeling that prevents writers from continuing. How very unfortunate.

Getting a rejection letter is the best thing that can possibly happen to you as a writer. Getting a rejection means that you must rewrite the piece. The rejection means that you now have something more to do. The rejection or multiple rejections will force you to concentrate more effort on your piece and it will become the best thing you've ever written. Although a rejection does not feel good, it is the best thing for your piece, for your writing and for your development. Incidentally, a rejection letter was my inspiration to start Umbrella Factory Magazine. In short, rejection is part of the game and if you make it an emotional part of the game you may leave the game. Take that rejection as a good omen and be thankful you still have work to do.

The acceptance is another thing altogether. The acceptance means a publication, which is great. It also means that your poem or story has reached its peak, its climax, its over, you never have to look at that piece again. You have found an editor who likes your work and wants to give it over to readership. Great. Good. That's it.

At this stage, please just do what an editor wants you to do. The worst thing a writer can do to an editor is to make major changes to a piece AFTER it's been accepted. Worse still, is wanting to make changes after the piece has been published. Thank an editor and move on. If the editor wants changes, just do it and know that the editor may know something that you do not. The story still belongs to you, it always will. Don't fret small changes. And do not, under any circumstance, suggest a major overhaul after acceptance.

When you get a publication there are still things that need doing. First, you must tell everyone you know about it. You must get as many readers as you can, not only for your piece, but for the magazine in total. You must connect with the editors and the other writers. Follow their blogs. Make professional contacts with them via LinkedIn or the like. Stop at nothing to promote other writers, the magazine that published you and be shameless in the promotion of yourself.

Now, update your CV. If you have a writer's blog, and I think you should, create links to your story. Update your third person bio. And get the next piece off to the next magazine.

Continue the process, and never stop.

Next time: The Conclusion: my results and some helpful links.

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