heinlein's rules, sexified 5: you must keep your story on the market until it is sold


5. Don't be lazy.


5. Your editorial soul mate is out there somewhere. Sorry, I'm already taken.

Okay, so you write every day. You finish what you start. You revise only when someone gives you cash to do so. You submit your story. It doesn't suck because you've got, say, 200 rejections on your hard drive.

Here are some reasons for rejection when you reach this "league" of writing. They look harmless enough, but only read them once; they're proven to drive writers mad when jotted on a form rejection and mailed back in your SAE. Very Toxic Stuff.

  • issue balance - we had ten wereturtle stories this month and could only pick one
  • not right for the market - OMG your writing is so awesome but it just needed a little more strawberry jam, balloons, and axe murdering monkey.
  • not quite there - this one's tough but you know it when you see it. or at least I do. it needs more substance, more sticky, more Velcro.
  • don't like ending - do you know how fucking frustrating it is to find deus ex machina at the end of a story you just spent 20 minutes reading during your vodka slushie session? Hopes...dashed to the rocks.
  • personal taste - sorry, chica, I'm not going to pick a sappy love story no matter how fucking cool the worldbuilding is. I'm the Dark Editor.

Anyway, so every writer worth their salt has a collection of these rejections too, and ask any of us, nothing will make you pull your hair out like being almost good enough. You will rue the day you ever tried to improve and wish desperately you were back in happy ignorant bliss.

You will want to stop writing. You will definitely want to stop submitting.

This is the exact WRONG time to stop writing and submitting.

We're talking multiples here, baby. That means sticking it in there out there, over and over and over and...


If you're getting rejections that say to send them more, or not right for us, or anything resembling the above, you've got a couple of tactics to take.

You can politely and unstalkerishly write back to the editor to see if they want you to revise (see Heinlein's rule #3, sexified) and resubmit.  Or you can belly up to the single's bar again and try the next hot little number. Cuz you know what grows on trees besides rejections and writers? Magazine markets and book publishers. Trust me, there is always another market.

So keep it out there until it sells. Because it will sell. And then you get to start back at rule #1 again. Welcome to the Fucking Club. You're a submissive writer.


Peter Dudley said...

Wereturtles rock.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Weredingoes eat wereturtles for breakfast.

Thanks, Betsy! Oddly enough, your posts have got me writing every day when nothing else ever has. Timing? Your style? Both?