100 Rejections a Year

Sunday, July 10, 2016
What would happen if you set a goal – to earn 100 rejection letters in one year?

No cheating. This doesn’t mean that you can submit horror to a market that only takes self-help or a cookbook to romance publisher. You would have to submit your work to suitable publishers and, once everything was out, get busy writing something new.

If you’re a novelist you may be looking at this goal shaking your head. Even with 5 or 6 novels ready to submit, 100 rejections would likely be unattainable. But what if you queried editors and agents? And what if you added in fellowships, grants and residencies?

I read a blog post about one writer who set this goal. So far the max that she has achieved is 44 rejections a year. But she has also had her work accepted in several literary journals a year and received a number of residencies as well.

I started wondering how many rejections I’ve gotten this year. I opened up the Excel file that I use to track my submissions. Other than the material that I submit to the Muffin, I have 7 submissions. Wow. That’s pretty pathetic. Sure, six of them are book manuscripts but four of those were under contract. That means I’ve submitted uncontracted manuscripts to two agents and one editor.

Given the fact that I’ve allegedly been trying to get an agent this year, that is truly sad. Sure, I’ve had four books (all under contract) accepted, but there's another issue here.  They were all with one packager.  Early in my writing career I learned the dangers of having all of my checks coming from one publisher. That's fine as long as it lasts but what if they go out of business.

To break in to more publishers, I need to get my work out there. Getting my work out there means that I can expect more than a few rejections. And the best way to keep them from felling me when they come in? Set a goal to earn as many rejections as possible.

It’s July so I don’t think I can earn 100 rejections in 2016 but I’m going to aim for 50. That’s probably optimistic but an editor did ask to see a piece of nonfiction from me by the end of August. And another is waiting for an article.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a chance and see if I bring in an acceptance or a rejection. I have a goal to meet.


Sue is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins on August 1, 2016.


Karen Cioffi said...

Sue, love the idea of letting writers know to expect rejections!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--That is a great idea because if we're not sending out our stuff, there's no chance we'll get published.

Theresa Boedeker said...

Wow. I love your idea of setting a goal of a set number of rejections. Along the way you would learn so much and also get published in different places.

Anonymous said...

This is great! What a genius way to turn a negative into a positive...a goal!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Thank you for the kind words. I hope you'll all join me in working my way toward 50 rejections!

Sheila Good said...

One can't be rejected or accepted if we don't put our work out there in the universe. A nice nudge for me. Thanks. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

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