I’ve written a lot about getting rejected as a writer. And that’s because we do get rejected. A LOT.
But also, sometimes, something just falls into place. And you get an email popping into your inbox saying “we’d like to publish your piece.”
And, if you’re anything like me, you lose your shit and start dancing around the living room like a maniac.
But how many rejections do you need to rack up before you get an acceptance?
The first time I wrote something and submitted it, I submitted to 55 journals.
And I got 55 rejections.
And yeah, that kind of sucks. But you shouldn’t lose hope. Instead, use it to fuel your righteous writer’s fire. You are good enough, and you’re gunna prove it, damn it.
The second piece I tried to get published was a creative non-fiction piece I’d written for my Master’s programme, called The Immortal Goldfish, and it felt different to anything I’d ever written. Not only because it was Creative Non-Fic (#notmygenre) but because I’d taken risks with it. Purely because it wasn’t my genre.
So I thought I’d do a little experiment.
And I would see how many rejections I needed to rack up in order to get it published. Seeing as I had submitted to 55 journals before, I figured I needed to double it. Hit 110. See what happened.
I didn’t even reach 55. And I got nowhere near 110. I got an acceptance at rejection number 23. (In fact, I imagine I’ll get a few more, but they are water off a duck’s back by now.) Here are my stats:
Journals submitted to: 27
Journals that rejected me: 23
Journals that still need to come back to me: 3
I was submitting to 5 at a time, so this took me about 4 months, depending on the journal’s turnaround time. Every time I received a rejection, I moved down my list of UK and US Journals and submitted to the next one. I also saved some of my favourites until last, so I didn’t get too disheartened.
Some of the rejections I received were lovely. They had taken the time to read my piece, and gave specific reasons why it wouldn’t be a fit for them. Others were cut and paste. I’ll be honest, there were way more of the latter than the former, but that’s OK.
Because not everyone is going to love your writing. But if that’s the case, they were never meant to have it in the first place. You deserve someone who loves it.
So here’s what I’ve learnt, and here’s what you can learn to:
- There’s no set number. There’s only perseverance – in the face of rejection, you just have to pick yourself up, brush yourself down and say OK. I’m going to try again.
- The number will change with every piece. So if your first one was a flop (like mine) that doesn’t mean you’re not good, it just means you have space to grow and improve. Try again with your next piece. And the piece after that. And the piece after that.
- You are good enough. So keep going.
And if you want to, you can read my first ever published piece here.
Published by the lovely people at The Write Launch in their September issue. The Write Launch is a literary magazine owned by bookscover2cover.com.