Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Competition Among Writers

Let's talk insecurities. As writers, we know all about rejection. If you're working, you're getting some rejection from somewhere...unless you've made a deal with the devil.

For everyone else, It happens. But knowing that still doesn't make it enjoyable. As a rejected author I'm always torn between whether I'm the one who stinks, or if the heartless jerk on the other end of my query is to blame.

But I've been that jerk, so today, I want to take a closer look at rejection from the perspective of the one delivering it.

Occasionally, I'll offer my reader services as a slush pile reader or a contest judge. Wearing that hat gives me a much different perspective on rejection. There's one hard truth: the competition among writers is brutal.

Okay, so you're thinking...duh, that's what everyone keeps saying. Trust me, I had the same thought. But once you're in the position of having to choose a single story from a stack of them, you realize (with deep guilt) that you are rejecting good stories simply because you can't choose them all.

It's like walking into a book store with limited cash in your pocket. You can only buy one book. How will you choose? It's your turn to be the bad guy...

Don’t forget the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest is open and taking submissions! 

Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.


Juneta key said...

OMG I so feel ya. Since we started producing the Grumpy Old Gods anthologies we get over a hundred submissions for each.

We have been lucky in one sense that we have received a lot of great stories, but we can choose only 11 to 12. The first G1 we felt so mean sending out the rejection letters but we invited them to resubmit to the next one, and they did, lol, almost all that were invited.

So to save some time we realized we were getting enough for more than one anthology, so if it fits the next anthology, we made them an offer on that one. That is how we created Vol. 4 which will publish in November. We will be putting the call out for Vol. 5 in August, which has a tentative publish date of January and yes one or two stories already accepted.

Being on the other end definitely gives you a whole new take and perspective on rejection and being rejected. I don't feel so bad now oddly enough. I don't know if that will last but for now, I have made peace with the thought.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I am one of those who judges a book by its cover. So that is how I chose. And I'm sure I miss some good ones because their covers aren't as good.

Tyrean Martinson said...

That's so true. I don't like dealing with rejection, but I know what it's like to have to choose between some amazing stories. Which one is the best fit? That is really what it comes down to ... and it's still a tough choice.
Thanks for your thoughts on this, Elizabeth!

nashvillecats2 said...

Most interesting to read, rejections isn't very pleasant in any circumstances especially if you've worked hard with your writing.
Here's wishing everyone success.


Michelle Wallace said...

Good stories are rejected simply because you can't choose them all. Now that's a comforting thought for authors who put their heart and soul into their work.
This means that authors are 'upping their game' and tons of good stories are flooding the markets. Food for thought.

Pat Hatt said...

True, you just can't choose them all.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's hard when you have to say no to a good story.

Lynda Dietz said...

On one hand, it's more difficult to choose between good and best, but on the other hand, what a terrific problem to have, when the overall writing quality is that good!

diedre Knight said...

Excellent perspective - Thank you!

Roland Clarke said...

A mind-opening post - thanks, Elizabeth. I've reached the point where I hardly submit anything - just the IWSG Anthology and one or two others. I reject my own stories on days when I don't think they are brilliant. Insecure, yes. But also perseverance, encouraged by posts like yours.

Ingmar Albizu said...

Interesting perspective on rejection. Rejection hurts. However, by putting ourselves in the shoes of the slush readers and editors rejecting our stories, we gain a different take on the process.

I wonder how many editors reject a story only to see that story win a major award. Actually, that question was asked to Neil Clarke at this year's Boskone.

His answer was twofold:
1. I can only publish so many stories a month in my magazine.
2. I try to publish what I know my readers like although sometimes I will put a story which may not fit my readership's tastes but, I feel they will enjoy.

Great article, Elizabeth.

Sandra Cox said...

I think writing is one of the most difficult careers available. Rejection sucks.
And even after you've found a home for your work, there's sales (or a lack thereof:).I try to go with the attitude that our books are up against millions, so even when sales aren't as high as we would like, every time you sell a book its a good thing.
Great post:)

Mirka Breen said...

Difficult. Long-shot. Steep odds. I get all that.
But I prefer to leave "brutal" out of it. Just my take. Writers help each other so much, that somehow that word rings wrong.

Susan Appleyard said...

We also have to bear in mind that while writing is an art, publishing is a business, and publishers have to look out for their bottom line.

cleemckenzie said...

So true about the competition, Elizabeth. I guess if anyone enjoys our work we should be pleased. It's such a jam-packed field and there's only so many stories a publisher can accept.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

It's all so subjective, though never easy to take rejection.

Have a great Friday and weekend, my dear.

Kalpana said...

W ell that certainly puts a different spin on rejection. You can't choose them all so you some perfectly good ones get thrown on the slush pile. It isn't personal, a story may be very very good. Thank you for this perspective.