Just received my nine hundredth short story rejection

Yep, just got it half an hour ago, from West Branch (it looks like at least a few literary magazines will reject you in less than a month). Not sure if I have too much commentary on this one. I actually got three rejections today*, so that makes 901 rejections from 190 markets on 136 stories. Since getting my eight hundredth rejection, I’ve sold four stories, so that’s not bad. As you can see from looking at the dates of my previous milestones, I’ve finally reached an inflection point in terms of rejection milestones.

For the first time in my submissions career, it’s taken longer to get to the current hundred than it took me to get the previous hundred. My submissions volume has remained fairly constant over this time (if anything, it’s increased), but my stories do seem to be getting held longer for consideration nowadays. But, in any case, it still amounted to one short story rejection every two days.

I think it’s no secret that I’m proud of these numbers. There’s no way to control whether stuff gets accepted or not, but these numbers tell me that I’m still upholding my part of the bargain. After almost nine years (I sent out my first submission on or around December 20th, 2003), I’m still assiduous in my submissions: I still revise stories and send them out; I still keep submitting them even after they get rejected; and I still don’t let rejection bother me too much.

However, I will say, to all the aspiring writers out there, that my rejection count is alot higher than most peoples’. I think this is because I submitted the first story I ever wrote and I’ve rarely written a story that I did not submit. Basically, over the years I’ve been the source of a substantial amount of the really bad stuff in the slush. If you’ve already been writing seriously for a few years, then it’s likely that you’ll start above that. It seems to me like it’s more typical for writers who’ve reached my career-stage to have something more like 100-300 total rejections.

*Actually, it was two rejections and one story that I’ve been meaning to write off as a non-response, since it’s been well over a year since I sent it out.

Comments (



  1. Gabriel Murray

    That’s pretty awesome, actually. You have way more persistence than I do; I’m not sure my self-confidence is made of such stuff that it would withstand nine hundred blows to it. Well, I guess it is; I guess it’d have to be, all writers have to have a little narcissist living in them, the trick being making sure it stays little.

    The short story industry is so fascinating and weird. I still more or less feel like an outsider to it, despite going to Clarion and working for SH, because I frankly haven’t committed that well to writing and submitting in it: but Lord, it’s a fascinating subculture. Keep up the good work, though it doesn’t sound like you need any encouragement!

    Hurricane leave you in one piece, by the way?

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      I was fine. I weathered the hurricane at my parents’ apartment in DC. My Baltimore apartment did flood (it’s a basement apartment), but none of my possessions were hurt and the property management company has already taken up the carpet and treated it and done some other stuff, so it looks like that’s going to be fine.

      I don’t think it’s a matter of self-confidence or anything. You gain the resilience by doing it. Once you have a hundred rejections, they’re just not going to feel the same to you. You’ll build up psychological defense mechanisms almost automatically.

      1. Gabriel Murray

        Sorry to hear about the flooding! I’m on the third floor here in Queens and on pretty high ground, and my car made it out fine, so the biggest dent the storm’s put in my lifestyle has been making it much harder to get to Manhattan at the moment.

        Yeah, I’m working on it. The rejection collection, that is. The legal profession and training for it inure you to a different set of rejections and shutdowns, in my experience (which isn’t much), but it’s not quite the same as sending all those signals out into the void.

  2. Widdershins

    Wow! Very impressive tally there.

    1. R. H. Kanakia