Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What Not to Do

Submitting fiction for publication is like a drug habit (in theory, anyway...I haven't had any drug habits). Those first submissions, oh how the rejection stings. Later, when you get the first "hit", sweet nirvana. Then you go back for more. The stings aren't so bad this time, but the hits don't take you as high. You crave bigger hits. Pro sales. That book deal that will make everything okay.

Only it won't.

The writing has to be the high, really. Why do it if it's not?

All right, enough of that. Onward to today's title:

What Not to Do


How to Look Like an Amateur

Never, never write a nasty note back to an editor if you receive a rejection. I've had rejections that were snarky, off-base, misspelled, confused (mixing verb tense with POV...sheesh), but I've never sent a nasty note to an editor.

I don't care what the venue is, how much you would have been paid/not paid...just don't do it. The professional thing? Take the rejection and move on. The longer you do this (see above) the less rejection will sting (of course, the less success will take you high...what a catch-22). Just move on, okay? How can you tell a seasoned pro (even more than by her/his paycheck)? She/he knows how to move on to the next thing.

That is all.

Tomorrow: My writing year in review. Please don't hold your breath.


K.C. Shaw said...

Lordy, that is wise advice. Also, I'm really jonesing for an acceptance. :)

Jamie Eyberg said...

I have thanked some editors for encouraging comments on my rejections. I hope they didn't come across as snarky.

Robert said...

I must admit I responded once to a nasty note from an editor. It was very unprofessional (on his part, not mine). This editor is, as a writer at least, well known and was just being an asshole. So I forwarded the rejection to the e-i-c saying as much. The e-i-c responded with an apology and asking me not to judge the publication based on just one poorly worded rejection letter. I haven't submitted since. Would I do the same thing again if I had the chance? Most definitely. Then again, I once got a rejection from an editor that read like he was stoned when he wrote it, and decided not to even bother with that publication anymore, so then there's that.

Rabid Fox said...

It's sound advice, but am I the only one who finds it sad that it's advice that must be continually hammered into the writing community?

I'm not entirely sure how vitriolic a rejection can be from some editors, but I can't imagine ever feeling inclined to send a poisonous e-mail back to them.

Aaron Polson said...

K.C. - I'm addicted to them (acceptances) myself.

Jamie - I never feel a "thanks" is snarky.

Robert - You continue to demonstrate guts that I lack. My response (at this point in my "career") is just to avoid the publication upon receiving nasty/ridiculous rejections. (Needless to say, I didn't sub again to the tense/POV confused editor).

Fox - When an editor is an @$$, they deserve to be ignored...when they just reject a piece, well, that's his/her job, right? Yes, it's very, very sad.

Katey said...

It's so, so sad that you have to say this... but you do. I'd swear to god these people were raised by wolves, sometimes.

Doug Murano said...

Well said, Mr. Polson.

And Jamie--it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one who sometimes sends a note of thanks for an outstanding rejection letter. I've always wondered if I was out of line in some way for doing that. Those editors who not only take the time to send a personal rejection, but also provide genuinely good advice are heroes as far as I'm concerned.

And as far as unpleasant rejection letters--I've had one or two doozies come my way, but hey, at least it's not a form letter. Those, I think, hurt the most.

Aaron Polson said...

Kate - Illiterate wolves.

Doug - The absolute worst: a form letter after 300+ days. Ouch.

Fox Lee said...

So mailing them a live cobra is probably right out?

Aaron Polson said...

Has it been de-fanged?