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Hard Copy Rejections

I'm reading City Lights - A Street Life, the autobiography of Keith Waterhouse and I thought the phrasing he uses for the inevitible return of that manuscript is quite funny and probably familiar to most of us. He says of his manuscripts,

I had read enough writers' reminiscences to know that in the early days rejected stories regularly "came home to roost" or "landed with a dull thud on the doormat"; being of their number was like belonging to a club.


...not even bothering to resubmit those manuscripts that, as the writers' reminiscences would have put it, "winged their way back like homing pigeons".

Very well put and also an encouragement to us all for he didn't fare too badly out of the writing lark :)


  • edited December 2010
    I do admire Keith Waterhouse's writing - it helps to know he was rejected too!
  • Very reassuring.
  • I always think hard copy rejections are so much more difficult to handle than e-mailed rejections. It's so disheartening when that recognisable sae comes thudding through your letter box. Then you have it hanging around for days while you try to decide whether the piece is worth salvaging and sumbmitting elsewhere or merely needs to be binned. It lays on your desk a constant reminder of your failure to impress, hanging around like an ex-husband at the wedding. With e-mailed rejections one only has to press the delete button and they disappear, out of sight, out of mind. So much better.
  • I got my first rejection today, from Women's Weekly. It arrived just as I'm in the process of editing my pocket novel for a first ever submission to My Weekly.

    I did feel a bit disheartened and for a moment wondered whether I was wasting my time 'playing' at writing but, sensibly, know that it was highly unlikely that my first short story would be accepted. I'm holding on to what I read recently about Stephen King wallpapering his room with rejection slips. If I never get beyond that stage, then I'll start to feel unpublishable. At the moment, I probably need to keep going. I'm not sure what to do with my rejected story now. On reflection, it was probably a bit too sentimental for WW. Never mind.
  • take a look at a womag blog/site, there is one on the board somewhere, search womag, and see if there is anywhere else it can go. There are other magazines, fortunately! We all feel like that when something comes back but it is a learning curve and learning to throw the work back out in the world is the first step on that curve. You'll make it. Look for my 'handling rejection' thread. Been there many many times ...
  • I have to say that after submitting so much electronically that has met with zero response, I would find the sound of a good old fashioned jiffy bag thud rather reassuring. At least it would be a sign of life.
  • When the envelope thuds through the door I look at the contents to see if it is a standard rejection or has comments. Then I put it back in the envelope and out of sight and get on with something else. It still stings but it isn't just sat there staring at me accusingly.
    Then I consider what needs to be done with it.
  • WW are very picky, GF - as they all are!
    I had a recent acceptance from Take a Break that was a WW rejection and many others that have gone on to be published elsewhere after WW didn't want them.

    It's always depressing, but once you've finished your wine and chocolate or equivalent anaesthetics (which are compulsory!), do as dorothy says, look at womag's blog (details in Useful Threads sticky) and get it sent back out.

    Good luck!
  • I returned home after Christmas to a rejection letter from Take a Break. They had the story in their posession for quite a while. They said it had been considered but it wasn't quite right this time and looked forward to your future submissions - do they really mean it or is it a standard letter?
  • They don't say it if they don't think you have potential, that's what standard rejection letters are for.
  • Thanks Carol.
  • I'm afraid that is the standard letter, BD, but it doesn't mean they didn't mean it anyway! Take heart from the fact they kept it a while - they can come back REALLY quickly.

    The only specific feedback you ever get from TaB is an acceptance or a request for a slight rewrite - as far as I'm aware, anyway, and I've had dozens of the exact same 'no thanks' letter in my time. There was a yellow sticky left on my manuscript once with a few scribbled comments, but that was clearly a note between editors left there in error.
  • WW you just get a thanks but no thanks as a standard rejection letter.
    Wonder what the standard rejection letters are for the other magazines?
  • [quote=girl friday]it was probably a bit too sentimental for WW. Never mind. [/quote]
    Had you considered another of the womags? 'sentimental' immediately makes me thing PF might take a version of it!
  • How quickly are WW getting back to you all?

    I sent them a story on 6th November and haven't heard anything yet. Is it still too early to chase - knowing how long they can take?!
  • WW say four months usually.
  • It was 4 months for me.
  • I once sent a submission out on Thursday, on Saturday the rejection letter came back saying 'having taken time to thoroughly consider your work' AS IF! The darn fibbers! I wouldn't mind if they'd just they weren't taking anything on right now because they're too busy - but why pretend they'd read it?
  • It was four months for me too.
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