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Monday, April 18, 2005

SOMETIMES CHICKEN, SOMETIMES FEATHERS

"Not even Achilles will bring all his words to fulfillment." Homer 700 BC

Rejection slips are part of a writer's reality. These are the little impersonal notes attached to a returned manuscript or query telling you "thanks, but no thanks". We don't have to consider these to be real 'rejections' though. A rejection slip collection (you might get enough to paper a wall) represents a step toward being a published author. Rejections represent experience.
Every known writer has had their own collection of rejection slips. It's all part of the process of achieving your goal as a writer. If you can't handle rejection you're in the wrong business. In fact, perhaps they should be called persistance slips.

I've been a travel journalist since 1982 when the first story I sent out was accepted. Since then I've had a lot of stories published, but also a lot rejected. The best method to deal with this, is to have a list of markets ready and when your story is returned send it out immediately to another publication. Eventually it's going to find a home. The submission game is kind of like "Bingo". Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but play for long enough and eventually you will win something.

Sometimes though, stories get published and there isn't any monetary returns for them, just the joy of seeing your words in print. This can be satisfying, although somewhat disappointing. However it helps in adding to your writer's portfolio, and at least when the story has been accepted and published you know it's worth sending out again to another market that does pay.

I have a story out there, The Coal Pits of Wales: A Tribute to my Family's Heritage." A travel magazine in Britain is currently holding it for possible publication. They pay well, though it's a new magazine and hopefully it will survive awhile. Meanwhile, I sent it to a few other places and just this week it was published in a widely distributed (but free) publication The Celtic Connection. I picked up a copy yesterday. It looks good, a two--page spread, and includes several photos. Unfortunately I'm told there is no payment for this though. So I will continue to find another home for it. (That's the nice thing about travel journalism, you can republish as the Rights are yours once it's been in print.. Never sell anything to a magazine that buys ALL rights.) I was also contacted by an on-line publication last week who says they are going to publish an article about Morocco I submitted recently. I am not sure if this publication pays either. I sent the articles out to several places at once and hoped for the best. But, it would be really nice to see some rewards for my efforts.

Being able to submit on-line is helpful, but unfortunately I've found a lot of the on-line editors do not respond to your submission, so you must keep track and follow up. I think I prefer the old hard-copy method, but that takes time and money. You have to be persistant in your marketing, remember to research your markets beforehand, keep pitching and keep writing new material or revising old material that hasn't sold. It's also important to keep track of where and when you've sent you story out. My rule of thumb for magazines is three months, for newspapers six weeks, and then I query. It's also helpful, in travel writing, to get the publications yearly schedule and that way you can see well in advance if your story will fit their needs. Yes, marketing isn't always easy and if you want to be published you really have to work at it. (I haven't even begun trying to sell my novel as yet -- though I did a few years back -- because I'd rather wait until it is at least at the final draft stage. ) Books are much harder to sell. At least, in the meantime, I'm getting lots of publishing experience with my travel stories.

You can see some of the published ones by following links on my website:
www.dreamwater.org/ruthaki

"Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!"
The Holy Bible Job 19:23

1 comment:

Sam said...

Oh God. I hate rejection letters. You'd think I'd get used to them, lol, but it's always crushing.
But you made an excellent point when you say that eventually it will find a home. That's what writers have to remember. Not every book or story will land on the right editor's desk at the right moment.
And let's not even get in to agents, lol.
Now, my agent letters start like this -
I contacted you a few years ago...
:-)