One of my stories got rejected today. It didn’t upset me. Disappointed, yes. Upset, no. When a writer sends out a query letter, a story, a partial, or full, he is asking the recipient, “Do you think you can sell this?” The answer is either yes or no. Nothing more is necessary.
The question you ask in a query is not, “Do you think I’m a good writer? Or person?” My stories have gotten passes from dear friends, folks who have remained friends, so they clearly think I’m okay on some level. No one has ever canceled a dinner with me because they didn’t buy my work.
Today’s editor was kind and took the time to explain why it was a pass, which was a terrific thing for her to do. Her comments may help me sell the story to the next editor. Or maybe, the next editor will like the very thing this editor disliked. It happens. A lot.
It’s much like selling a house. Total strangers come traipsing through your place, deciding if they like what they see, wondering if they could stand living in this space. Most buyers pass. If you get lucky, more than one buyer will want to make an offer. But it only takes one buyer for a sale.
Really, though, if she’d said, “Thanks, but it’s not for me,” that would’ve been fine, too. I’m trying to sell my work, so this is the equivalent of “no sale.” It is not a negative referendum on my ability. My first thought when I read it was, oh good, now I can send it to someone else. My second thought was, hey, she’s willing to read other stories. Buttah!
By the way, I’m having an open house next week. All editors all welcome. Bring snacks.