by ARHuelsenbeck 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 in my circle 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 [ name of publication here ], but unfortunately my work doesn’t match 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 mailings, 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 system where I record my submissions, details, and expected turn-around times, and write a No next to the entry if or when a negative email arrives.
When I started my agent search, I tried the free version of Query Tracker, and liked it so much I signed 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 theirs. Remember, a rejection from an agent doesn’t necessarily mean the writing’s bad; the agent just can’t think of a publisher who’ll snap it up.)
Today 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. Guest post contributed by ARHuelsenbeck. Former elementary general music teacher ARHuelsenbeck blogs about the arts and the creative process at ARHtistic License. She is currently writing a YA mystical fantasy and a Bible study guide, and submitting a poetry chapbook, with mystery and MG drafts waiting in the wings. You can follow her on Twitter, and see some of her artwork, photography, and quilts on Instagram.