I learned this from prolific author Jane Yolen, who said she got it from somewhere else (sorry, can't remember the source). The idea is to greatly improve your chances of getting published by having at least twelve titles making the submission rounds at all times. This doesn't mean using the shotgun approach and hoping one of your manuscripts hits the right target. This means studying your markets and making qualified submissions to these editors with the full knowledge that they do indeed publish the type of piece you're sending them. Keep careful track of your submissions using a spreadsheet if you like, or a ledger of some kind, or a great big white board on your office wall. Whatever works for you. Note the title, the publisher you've sent it to, their estimated time of response, and the date sent. This will help you track what's out there, what's come back, and how many times. If you've sent a manuscript out to five targeted markets (people most likely to buy it) and it hasn't sold yet, you might consider revising it.
Top 10 WORST Rejections!
(Well, that I've received.)
by Pam Calvert
Venture with me through my worst rejections. I've found that the bigger the publication, the worse and impersonal the rejection. Also, the smaller the publication, the worse and personal the rejection. But that makes the acceptances all the sweeter! Later, I will post the top ten best rejections and encouragements!
"We do not accept unsolicitated manuscripts, so we've included our guidelines. We do not wish to see this manuscript again."
YIKES! Do you think I should try them again?
On a crumpled sheet of paper and after two months, the form rejection is plastered on the paper to the right of center: "Dear Contributor: We are sorry we cannot be more encouraging, but we are currently not in the market for the material you suggest... signed, The Editors (no script!)"
This was a cool, space race article about spacecraft and I sold it to about three publications including one of their competitors!
On a nice form sheet and with a real signature, it reads: "Dear Writer: ....We received a large number of stories in response to our queries and had to choose those we felt would be of greatest interest to our audience."
After 8 months and after I withdrew my submission, the editor writes in long hand: "Sorry to take so long. Next time send an SASE for comments as required in our guidelines"
This was an assigned piece--you don't normally give an SASE on assigned projects! But I gave an SASP for her response anyway!
On a third of a sheet of paper they write: "We wish we could respond in a positive note...we regret that the great volume of material does not allow us to comment in detail..."
No signature, no plea for more, but they did scrawl the name of my manuscript at the top.
A personal response, but these can be hard: "Dear Ms. Calvert: This story did read better the second time (this was the first time I had sent it to him! HA!) However, and this is part of the job I'm not wild about, I'm gonna pass on it. Effective humor is very tough to compose...There simply isn't much quality humor to be found! I appreciate your interest in our magazine, Ms. Calvert..."
Alas...I'm just not funny...
After four months, I received this beauty:
"While we continue to actively seek new talent, we feel we must carefully choose the new writers with whom to develop long-term relationships that will, hopefully, bloom into a contract someday. To avoid unnecessary anxiety and lost time in the future, we'd suggest that you reconsider submitting to us again."
Heh, heh, I'm glad I've had acceptances, but I wonder about a new writer getting a form letter like this. They might give up all together. A pitiful shame that an editor would base a judgement on one submission
After I hounded them for a response and after they said it was still being considered after three months, I wait another long three months for a reply. Nothing. Then I email, I write another letter and finally, I receive a tiny quarter page form with a box checked that said, "It is not suited to our present needs." This from a company that PROMISES to respond in one month. HA! I finally received an email from someone stating that they had returned my manuscript. Well, at least they do accounting. Usually, I get at least an apology if it has taken too long, but I did not receive one.
This was an exclusive submission. I've learned a very hard lesson here:
Don't listen to response time promises. Simulataneous submit if the house accepts them!
After several months (I sent off for guidelines to FOF Clubhouse Jr), I get this from Focus on the Family Newsletter saying: "We only publish about 2% of submissions and usually from someone famous or known." Then they bombarded me with contribution forms for their ministry for about six months!
Now that's bad--a rejection even BEFORE I send it out!
And the number one rejection of all time:
NO RESPONSE AT ALL!
Most publishers have adopted the no response policy, but I still think it's bad form. At least now, we don't have to abide by the exclusive submission policy as in the days of old. In a few months if you haven't heard, you can mark it off as rejected and move on with your life. Hooray!