Reject Rejectomancy!

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
Wulf Moon
Posts: 253
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:54 pm
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA

Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:10 pm

I posted this under the Silver HM topic, but I feel it really needs to be its own topic. Here we go:

Try not to read too much into what made your HM fail to win. It's equivalent to a personal rejection from a pro publisher. You can drive yourself nuts trying to guess at what got it rejected. Ken Liu talked about this at Norwescon this year. He called it "Rejectomancy." Let me get my notes. Okay. He said he had sold to WOTF and Strange Horizons and thought he had made it, his career was set. So he sent out his third story to pro markets. After one year, no sale. Two years, no sales. He actually counted words in the form rejections, measured paper size compared to previous rejections, trying to discern if there was some secret meaning to it all. Rejectomancy. He finally rewrote it. Wrote nothing else in those two years, just did that rewrite. And kept sending out that same story. He worked it down the semipro markets. No sale. Not even to markets paying one buck for a story. Nada. So he said, and I quote, "I decided my first two sales were flukes. So I quit, became a laywer. My writing career was dead."

And that's where the story might have ended. But about five or six years after he quit, he got contacted by the editor of an anthology that remembered him. He was doing an anthology titled STORIES THAT HAVE BEEN REJECTED MANY TIMES. The idea for the antho? That there were rejected pro stories out there that were great stories, they just didn't fit in the markets they'd been sent to. Ken sold them his story. Ken said at the end of the antho, they posted the rejection stats on each story. Ken said, "Of all of them, I was the champ!"

He said this sale was like a message from the universe that he should write again. Had that editor not contacted him, Ken Liu would likely still be pursuing a career in law, instead of the author of 150 short stories, and the epic silkpunk tomes of the DANDELION DYNASTY.

Moral of the story? Don't be Ken Liu. : )

Okay, do be Ken Liu. Just try not to read so much into rejections, and get on with writing...and sending out...your next!

Fortune favor the brave.

~Moon~

seerod26
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 10:14 am

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby seerod26 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:42 am

Thank you for that! It's so easy to get caught up in rejections. They've certainly thrown me into writing slumps before but I'm learning how to deal with them better wotf007

User avatar
AmytheAuthor
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:47 am

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby AmytheAuthor » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:36 am

Good reminder. This is probably why it's taken me 17 years to even submit a story.
It's a 100% non-rejection rate for unsubmitted stories.
A rejection is closer to success than an unsubmitted non-rejection. wotf011
Constantly writing in my mind, rarely getting it typed up.
Q1 35: R Q3 35:
. wotf052

Wulf Moon
Posts: 253
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:54 pm
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:36 am

AmytheAuthor wrote:Good reminder. This is probably why it's taken me 17 years to even submit a story.
It's a 100% non-rejection rate for unsubmitted stories.
A rejection is closer to success than an unsubmitted non-rejection. wotf011


Amy, I hear you. That is called self-rejecting. Many *beginning* writers self-reject. They want the world to see their stories, but they don't feel they are good enough, or fear no one will like them, or fear what a rejection might do to their ego. Those are all legitimate fears. At some point, if your desire is to be published, you have to push past those fears and send your stories out (congrats on doing that!). And, since you apprentice in your first stories (lots of people believe it takes writing a million words to create something that could pass as professionally publishable) you are likely going to get many, many rejections back before you make your first sale. And when you do, there can be a need to try to decipher why it got rejected, why something you worked so hard on and loved enough to send out was apparently disliked! It's not likely true (although some editors at less than professional publications have written some truly nasty rejection letters), but because we are so emotionally attached to things we pour our creative energy into, it can create unproductive mental loops. As it did for Ken Liu. As it did and does for a lot of us.

Ken admits he would not likely have found his way out of that negative loop had not something wonderful and completely unexpected happened for him. It's nice that the Universe spoke to him, as he says. Personally, I have never found the Universe to be so benevolent. I have always had to fight tooth and nail for anything the Universe has given me. But I am a fighter. And I encourage you and all others that wish to be published authors to put on your armor and go to battle.

Because that is what it's going to take.

~Moon~

User avatar
MattDovey
Posts: 401
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:33 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby MattDovey » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:16 am

AmytheAuthor wrote:Good reminder. This is probably why it's taken me 17 years to even submit a story.
It's a 100% non-rejection rate for unsubmitted stories.
A rejection is closer to success than an unsubmitted non-rejection. wotf011


Every published writer gets rejections and acceptances. Therefore, if you get a rejection, you're 50% of the way to being a published writer, right? wotf011
Golden Pen winner v32 (2016)
Stories | About | Facebook | Twitter

User avatar
morganb
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:11 am
Location: Mount Gilead, Ohio
Contact:

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby morganb » Mon Apr 30, 2018 4:10 am

MattDovey wrote: Every published writer gets rejections and acceptances. Therefore, if you get a rejection, you're 50% of the way to being a published writer, right?


That makes a certain amount of sense and is exactly how I'm going to choose to think about it from now on as long as I...ummm...don't think about it too hard. LOL


~Morgan
"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King

Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

HM x 1
R x 4

storysinger
Posts: 773
Joined: Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:00 pm
Location: Pensacola

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby storysinger » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:21 pm

About a year and a-half ago I submitted what I thought was the best story I'd ever written. I thought it had everything it needed; the five senses, strong character interaction, strong plot, an emotional ending. Until the very end I thought it would definitely be accepted. Alas, it was a rejection that hurt more than any other.
I believe I have finally put that behind me and I'm writing productively again. Best of times to all my fellow forumites.
HM-1
Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.
D.R.Sweeney

User avatar
disgruntledpeony
Posts: 684
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:21 pm

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby disgruntledpeony » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:24 pm

storysinger wrote:About a year and a-half ago I submitted what I thought was the best story I'd ever written. I thought it had everything it needed; the five senses, strong character interaction, strong plot, an emotional ending. Until the very end I thought it would definitely be accepted. Alas, it was a rejection that hurt more than any other.
I believe I have finally put that behind me and I'm writing productively again. Best of times to all my fellow forumites.

I totally understand. I got my second R the quarter after my finalist submission, and I was completely and utterly confused until I saw Dave's introductory post on magic systems. Neither of the ones I used in that story fit his tastes. I almost trunked the story in disgust, but have started tentatively sending it out again.
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain
2015: R
2016: SF, SHM, SHM
2017: SHM, F, R
2018: HM, SHM

Wulf Moon
Posts: 253
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:54 pm
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Apr 30, 2018 10:24 pm

disgruntledpeony wrote:
storysinger wrote:About a year and a-half ago I submitted what I thought was the best story I'd ever written. I thought it had everything it needed; the five senses, strong character interaction, strong plot, an emotional ending. Until the very end I thought it would definitely be accepted. Alas, it was a rejection that hurt more than any other.
I believe I have finally put that behind me and I'm writing productively again. Best of times to all my fellow forumites.

I totally understand. I got my second R the quarter after my finalist submission, and I was completely and utterly confused until I saw Dave's introductory post on magic systems. Neither of the ones I used in that story fit his tastes. I almost trunked the story in disgust, but have started tentatively sending it out again.


I hope you sell it. You didn't give up on it!

And this is to everyone, myself included. We have a lot of details on what the WOTF editor, Dave, likes and dislikes, because he blogs about the contest and teaches at the WOTF workshop. It's good to know what he likes to see in a story for winning this contest, and he has excellent suggestions on improving our writing. But those same details can be our enemy as we try to analyze why he rejected our story and didn't send it on up. Truth is, outside of here, the next editor will have their own ideas on what makes a good story, and their own needs for their publication as well. Shelving a story because we believe Dave didn't like it is the worst kind of rejectomancy!

Reject that thinking. And I know it's hard to do at times (*especially* if the rejection coincides with negative stuff hitting us in our personal lives), but it's why I made the topic. We believed in our story enough to send it to this pro market. Why would we stop believing in it just because one market turned it down? Just keep sending, keep believing.

And go write your next. wotf008

amoskalik
Posts: 1029
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:40 pm
Location: Detroit, MI
Contact:

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby amoskalik » Tue May 01, 2018 6:39 am

Wulf Moon wrote: Shelving a story because we believe Dave didn't like it is the worst kind of rejectomancy!


I can attest to this personally. I've sold four out of seven R's from this contest and I've yet to have sold any of my five HM's. This is just another market with its own needs and own tastes. Dave has a lot he can teach us, but in the end they are your stories and they need to be told in your way. As long as you keep honing your craft, discovering your voice, and submitting your stories, they will find a market out there that will accept them.
Trajectory HM R R HM R R HM HM HM R R R R HM

jficke13
Posts: 176
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:24 am
Location: Wisconsin
Contact:

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby jficke13 » Tue May 01, 2018 7:27 am

There are people I've observed say something along the lines of "I could make a great anthology out of my non-winning stories from WotF that went on to sell at [various big, pro, markets]." Then they list of MANY stories that found homes in Apex, F&SF, Lightspeed, Asimov's, etc.

I think one of the biggest traps associated with WotF is to think that it's a rite of passage, barrier to cross, or even some definitive arbiter of quality--the attitude that "I'm getting Rs in this 'beginner's contest' so my stuff isn't saleable in pro markets." Sure, there's a chance that your story is completely broken. But, of all of the exchanges I've done with people on this board, I think I only read one story that was really broken, and that person had really only just started writing. Pretty much everyone here, by virtue of the level of engagement and seriousness with which you are all taking the craft, is capable of producing quality, publishable, stories.

Once you're producing quality stories acceptance to this, or any venue, is dependent on many things that are not your writing. Maybe I snuck into Vol. 34 because my story was humor and the judges liked a breath of fresh air? Does that make the 4th place finalist worse? Nope. Could the 4th place finalist have done something "better?" Nope. My Vol. 34 winner got a personal rejection to a different anthology before I submitted it to WotF. The editor said "I really liked it but I only had one slot for humor." That rejection had nothing to do with me and everything to do with how an editor was constructing an anthology.

WotF isn't a hurdle, or a gateway, or a stop on the path to success. It's a professional market that pays good rates with a bonus to LA on top. There are a lot of professional markets, and there's no reason not to submit stories, even stories that got rejected from WotF, to all of them.

Heck, even if you're trying to maintain your eligibility for WotF, foregoing a sale at a big venue just to maintain eligibility isn't a great idea. Besides, query Joni about your eligibility... it may be that one of your publications doesn't qualify to bump you out of contention ;).
HM x2, Vol. 34 Q4 - 3rd. http://www.jonficke.com

User avatar
morganb
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:11 am
Location: Mount Gilead, Ohio
Contact:

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby morganb » Tue May 01, 2018 8:23 am

jficke13 wrote:I think one of the biggest traps associated with WotF is to think that it's a rite of passage, barrier to cross, or even some definitive arbiter of quality--the attitude that "I'm getting Rs in this 'beginner's contest' so my stuff isn't saleable in pro markets."


I think Jon makes a very important point here. I came into this contest several years ago thinking WOTF is "only for beginning writers", then kicking myself over my rejections. I don't know where I ever got the impression it was just for beginners because the rules are very clear. Professionally published novels, short novels, or more than one novelette and you're out. More than three short stories and you're out.

What I didn't fully understand is that you can actually be a professional writer and still enter and win this contest. Lots of people have published short stories with pro markets and still qualify. And let's not forget that flash fiction publications don't count against your eligibility at all, no matter how many of those you've sold.

Now that I understand all that -- that I am actually competing with professionally-written stories -- it made my HM all that much more satisfying. What really sucks is thinking that your writing is getting better with each new story, and then getting a rejection right after you've received an HM or SF or F in the previous quarter. Sigh. Reject the Rejectomancy and just keep pushing on I guess.


~Morgan
"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King

Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

HM x 1
R x 4

Wulf Moon
Posts: 253
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:54 pm
Location: Olympic Peninsula, WA

Re: Reject Rejectomancy!

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri May 11, 2018 1:53 pm

Morgan wrote : "Now that I understand all that -- that I am actually competing with professionally-written stories -- it made my HM all that much more satisfying. What really sucks is thinking that your writing is getting better with each new story, and then getting a rejection right after you've received an HM or SF or F in the previous quarter. Sigh. Reject the Rejectomancy and just keep pushing on I guess."

Morgan, as you know, you can never know why a story was rejected unless the editor tells you. Even then, it's just one editor's opinion. Getting a rejection just means that story wasn't right for this quarter's entries and is entirely this judge's opinion, which may even simply mean he had a lot to get through that day and you opened with green eggs and ham, and he hates green eggs, and is a Hasidic Jew. You just don't know, so spending a lot of energy on rejections just spends up a lot of energy that could be used sending it off to the next market and writing your next. We all know this is the path, and developing the strength to deal with it will be essential no matter what phase we are in in our professional writing careers.

All the best, and REJECT REJECTOMANCY! : )

~Moon~


Return to “The Contest - Quarterly Topics, and Other Items”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest