Okay, I’m not going to try and fool you or myself. Rejection sucks. It’ll always suck. Sometimes it really feels like a kick to the gut. You work really hard to have a good work ethic. You make extensive revisions per your editor’s requests without whining or complaining. You try and learn from previous edits so you’re not making the same mistakes. You’d kill yourself trying to make whatever changes necessary in order to get the work accepted if given half a chance.
So it can be hard not to take a rejection personally.
But sometimes, a work just isn’t right for wherever you sent it. It’s depressing. It can take the wind out of your sails… if you let it.
Here’s the thing: rejection is part of the game. If you’re a working writer and continue submitting stories for consideration, you’re going to get rejected, even after you’ve been accepted. It might even be an editor that loved your other work before. It happens. So you’ve got to come up with a battle plan that works for you when rejection kicks you in the head.
There’s a bright side, though. Sometimes a rejection gives you a chance to take a second look at a project. It can give you a chance to dig deeper, change up key ideas, or just get creative in a new way.
The thing about very specific submission calls (for me) is that the idea germinates from those initial requirements. Depending on the publisher/editor, you might enforce various boundaries to try and meet the needs for that particular project. Maybe you cut certain elements that you prefer or suppress plot points because you know (or think you know) that editor’s tastes. Worse, you might even crimp your brand a little to try and “slide” beneath or into the requirements.
*raises hand* Guilty as charged.
Honestly, this is exactly why I try NOT to write to a specific submission call any longer. I try so hard to write what I think the editor wants, that I sometimes end up holding the story magic back from what I’d naturally or normally do. I’ve never had a work accepted from a specific submission call (like an anthology), probably for this very reason. I just can’t figure out how to mold a “Joely” idea into a specific anthology call and make it work.
So yeah, I have a project that was rejected. It bummed me out pretty bad. It sat on my harddrive for a couple of months while I worked on other stuff. I kicked Lady Blackmyre out for consideration this weekend, so I decided to take a quick look at that other project and see what I wanted to do with it. Did I still love the idea? If I read it, would I get any sparks for revision ideas? Did I want to submit it somewhere else?
The good news is I still love the project. Really really love it.
The better news is that I quickly realized where I muzzled myself. Where I stupidly “toned down” my own brand. I’ve already started revising that scene (it’s only one — the rest is happily very solid) and should have a much better and more truthful scene in place within a few days.
And then I’m going to self publish this work. I’ll also be donating at least some of the profits to Joplin Recovery, where the book is set. It’ll be all my own idea. My own “brand.” My own crazy spin.
Watch for The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch in October. The perfect month for a zombie mash up!