The Secret to Turning a Rejection into an Acceptance

From experiencing both sides of the rejection process, I know that they are not easy to give or receive. I’ve written some short stories that I felt were pretty good and they have been knocked back by magazine after magazine. Now, after being heavily involved in Firewords, the reasons for some of our rejections led to our previous blog, ‘Why Your Rejection Letter Means Nothing’. This might help you understand where journals come from when they decide not to publish, but today I’m interested in what you can do with this information and how you can use it when moving forward.

There are two types of rejections usually given: those containing feedback (both with suggestions and current strengths) and, more commonly, those where no feedback is given.

Where feedback is provided, please, please, please use it as a tool to help your creative process. You have been given an insight into an editor’s thinking. Remember that it is just a subjective opinion from someone in ‘the business’ and treat it as such, but don’t turn a blind eye to it. You don’t have to accept all of the constructive criticism given, but it will be the genuine opinion of the editor, based on years of experience and expertise. At Firewords, we do often give feedback to pieces that have come close to publication; it is not an indication of weakness but just a positive way to move forwards.

In rejections where no feedback is given, it’s easy to feel you have gained nothing from the rejection. But there is one thing you now know: that particular story wasn’t right for that particular magazine. It may have been a near miss or perhaps it was way off target. Either way, here are two positive next steps: 1, do more research into that particular magazine and find out what kind of work they do publish, or 2, research other magazines and find one that is more suited to that particular story. Research is vital when choosing where and what to submit next.

Remember, responding to a rejection by emailing the publisher with anything more than a polite ‘Thank for you for your consideration’, is never a good idea, especially if you are trying to convince them that they’re wrong. Of course you will feel disappointed and maybe even angry, but it is much better to deal with this privately and come back fighting next time.

So, what’s the secret to turning a rejection into an acceptance? Okay, the title of this article is a bit misleading. There is no secret other than perseverance. But if you can gain something from each rejection and realise it isn’t a failure, you are one step closer to acceptance.