EVERY WEEK, REJECTION LETTERS FROM MY PAST. BECAUSE THE HURT GOES AWAY AFTER A COUPLE OF DECADES.

THIS WEEK IN REJECTION!

This Week in Rejection!: Dagger of the Mind

Welcome back! If you were here last week, you saw a story of mine rejected by Eldritch Tales, along with some suggestions for other possible markets. If you didn’t see that, go ahead and check it out here .

Now, as an aspiring author and all-around good-do-bee, I got that letter and thought, “Oh, how wonderful! I now have a hand-picked list of recommended markets for my story! This is saving me time on research. What a great turn of events!” And I promptly sent the story off to the terrifically named Dagger of the Mind magazine. (No sarcasm there — I think that’s an awesome magazine name.)

You can see the results below. Click for a larger version, where I’ve highlighted the editor’s response.

 

Dagger of the Mind rejection

 

 

Now, I’m the first to admit that my cover letter is lousy. It’s just terrible. But clearly I wasn’t rejected for my cover letter. I was rejected because my story just wasn’t suited to the magazine.

At the time, I thought the editor went a little overboard. After all, I took pains to mention in my cover letter that I was pointed towards Dagger of the Mind (still love that!) by a fellow editor. Wasn’t I justified in assuming that if Editor A saw my story and recommended Dagger of the Mind that, well, my story would be the sort accepted by Editor B at Dagger of the Mind?

Maybe. Maybe not. As a teen, I certainly thought so, and I thought the editor’s complaint was a little much. Looking back, though, I think it’s a fallacy to assume that Editor A ever read my story in the first place. He clearly was trying to help a wannabe out, offering a few other horror-themed publications, maybe making his own assumptions along the way.

(Feel free to recite the old saw about what happens when you ass-u-me here…)

In any event, I learned from this experience that things don’t always line up nice and neat in this business, even when it seems like they should. And I also learned that some people will hold your hand (like Editor A) and some people won’t. It’s nice when someone holds your hand, but don’t rely on it.

Oh, and something else: As you may imagine, I was tempted to write back to Editor B. Full of righteousness and ready to point out that I’d been advised to try him, I thought it was my place to set him straight. I never did and I’m glad of it. In the end, it’s just not worth it. This guy was clearly having a bad day. He was fed up with getting stuff that wasn’t right for his publication and he took it out on me. There was no point in prolonging his anger and my discomfort. Something for those of you submitting to keep in mind — when you get a less-than-polite response from an agent or editor or whomever, you may be tempted to respond in kind. And honestly, if you do, you’ll probably feel pretty good. But it’s not worth it. The people on the other end of the submission chain aren’t out to hurt you, even on those occasions when they do hurt you. Wreaking vengence feels good at first, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to get you one step closer to your ultimate goal. If you get a response like the one above (or worse), call up a buddy, vent a little, treat yourself to your favorite variety of M&Ms, and move on.

 

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