Rejection Slips—Who Needs ‘Em?



In my file cabinet I have a thick folder packed with negative responses, many dating back to my freelance writing days in the 1990’s—my dreaded rejection slips. The big joke was that I’d eventually have enough rejection slips to wallpaper my house. (Actually, I probably do.)

Some were neatly typed on an index card with a date and my article’s name, thanking me of thinking of the particular publication, but unfortunately my work doesn’t meet their current vision. Others were very bad photocopies of a generic rejection with no personal data whatsoever, sending me back to old notations on scraps of paper to try to remember which masterpiece was being turned down.

With the rise of email and electronic submissions and the virtual elimination of snail mail offerings, it’s rare to get a paper acknowledgement at all any more. For a while, I saved the email responses and toyed with the idea of printing them out and filing them in the “wallpaper” folder.

Now, many publications, agents, and editorial staff don’t even bother replying to submissions. They allow the deafening silence to speak for them.

Eventually, I came up with a notebook where I recorded my submissions, details, and expected turn-around times, and then just wrote a No next to the entry if or when a negative email arrived.

When I started my agent search, I tried the free version of Query Tracker, and liked it so well I decided to sign up for the paid plan, a bargain at $25 per year. It’s so nice to look up one of my titles and see the column of sad emojis next to the names of the agents who don’t believe they can sell it. (See what I did there? It’s not my fault, it’s their ineptitude.)

Also, a lot of editors take submissions only through Submittable, and also send a decision through the program, which does an excellent job of keeping track of which pieces are still under consideration and which are not.

So, what about you? Do you remember rejection slips? Do you print out rejection emails? How do you keep track of your submissions and responses? Do you keep negative replies? Should I chuck my wallpaper file? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

4 responses »

  1. I have a few rejection e-mails, but I guess those don’t hold up as well as the real rejection slips I’ve always read about (especially from writers who became adults before the internet). I keep an excel file detailing which magazines/journals/publishers I’ve pitched just so that I don’t accidentally resend them the same things, lol.

    This was a great read. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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