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htrent
08-11-2009, 05:02 PM
Ok, I post this knowing that my identity is less than veiled for people who can put 1+1 together, but I received a really nice splash of (figurative) cold water in the face this morning and need to talk about it.

Before I even got out of bed there was an e-jection for a short story I submitted in my inbox. So, I perused it, sort of pleased to see there was actually editorial commentary! "Yay!" I thought - "A useful rejection!"

And then it turned out not to be useful at all because the readers didn't "get it." One questioned my fact-checking (an issue of retail math) which pissed me off supremely as I clearly stated where she was and why she was there. Neither "got" what the suspense was.

I suppose it comes down to me picking the wrong market and thinking the theme was universal enough for any (well, female) reader to relate to. Both of my readers were female and neither got it. That's fine. It's just that their feedback seemed to blame my (apparent) inability to tell a story than their lack of familiarity of the issue at hand. [I think I'll post the story...will be back with a link when I turn on my other computer.]

I was going to respond to the email and gently educate on the math issue, but I deleted it accidentally. I suppose my guardian angel made me do that so I wouldn't have Angry Writer Syndrome this morning.

Have you ever just HAD to respond to a rejection?

Red-Green
08-11-2009, 05:18 PM
I've racked up a lot of rejections on shorts over the years, so I've definitely received some commentary that made it clear the editors didn't get the story. That said, no, I've never responded to a rejection. I have responded to a revise request with a "no and here's why." Because if they're rejecting the story, they don't care what my response is. If they're asking me to revise it, well, maybe they do. At any rate, that revise turned into a rejection, since I wasn't willing to completely re-purpose my story to suit them.


Have you ever just HAD to respond to a rejection?

DeleyanLee
08-11-2009, 05:18 PM
Actually, no. Not even when the editor told me "Love the story, but change all the words." Not even when I was told "you masterbated all over the page and I was ashamed to read it." Not even when I was told by an editor I'd been working with for several passes "I think I've spent more time editing this than you've spent bothering to try and write it."

And that's just some of the commentary I got in my early years of submitting (back in the 1970's and 80's).

That's because I learned early on that if the readers don't "get it" then the story failed for them. That makes the responsibility MINE to figure out why it failed. Sometime it was a technique I tried that didn't work right. Sometimes it was that the story was just too personal and I didn't write it in a more universal way. Sometimes the story just sucked dirty duck butt and needed to be scrapped. But the responsibility was always mine, not theirs.

Depending on my relationship with the commenter, I've gone back when I could and asked questions to see where, exactly, the story failed to work for them to give myself a headstart on fixing it, but I've never been tempted to go back and "gently educate" them. If I can't ask, then I look at the work more critically to see if I can figure it out for myself or I ask for outside help.

It's natural to get infuriated, and I feel for you, but I don't go the same place you apparently have. Getting the feedback of "It just didn't work" is invaluable to me because then I know WHAT the problem is--and that's half the battle of fixing it.

the addster
08-11-2009, 05:33 PM
There has been a time or two that I thought about it.

I once got a particularly obtuse rejection from a gal who released a book of her own soon after. I thought my review set a precedent of passive-agressiveness never to be rivaled, as did many others. She didn't get that either and sent me a thank-you note.

I really don't think you can win in this situation.

I'd just leave it alone.

Calla Lily
08-11-2009, 05:35 PM
I apply my RL job maxim to situations like this: Never burn a bridge, because someday you may be interviewing for a job with that person's spouse/brother/mom/dad.

I just file the Rs and move on.

ChaosTitan
08-11-2009, 05:38 PM
Sure, there's always going to be the "want" to respond. Who doesn't want to defend their work, if you think it's being falsely criticized? Write the response, then delete it. Do not send. Ever. Unless you've been invited to resubmit with revisions, just file the rejection, take or ignore the feedback, and move on.

KTC
08-11-2009, 05:41 PM
Sorry to hear you got rejected. My advice, though not asked for---Just get over it. Don't read too much into any feedback. A rejection is a rejection. Move on...

Better luck with your next submission.

htrent
08-11-2009, 05:56 PM
It's natural to get infuriated, and I feel for you, but I don't go the same place you apparently have. Getting the feedback of "It just didn't work" is invaluable to me because then I know WHAT the problem is--and that's half the battle of fixing it.

It just seemed like they wanted me to spoon-feed the issue to them, ya know? The feedback insinuated that I should tell all the answers. That's when I knew they didn't relate to it (it's a story about a woman who wants to be pregnant).

Normally, I have my big-girl panties on and just move on from rejections but this one was really frustrating. What they picked on about the story can't be changed...or rather, it is important that it not be changed. It would be a story about something else if I altered it that way. If I may get figurative--it would like be turning it into a story about cancer when it's really a story about finding a lump.

DeleyanLee
08-11-2009, 07:26 PM
It just seemed like they wanted me to spoon-feed the issue to them, ya know? The feedback insinuated that I should tell all the answers. That's when I knew they didn't relate to it (it's a story about a woman who wants to be pregnant).

Normally, I have my big-girl panties on and just move on from rejections but this one was really frustrating. What they picked on about the story can't be changed...or rather, it is important that it not be changed. It would be a story about something else if I altered it that way. If I may get figurative--it would like be turning it into a story about cancer when it's really a story about finding a lump.

I grok what you're saying. Been there, done that.

But perhaps the problem isn't in what you wanted to talk about in the story, but how you told it? That's what I'd be revisiting if I'd gotten that kind of comment from both places I'd sent it. Sometimes it's just a few wrong words that prevent "getting it" from happening, after all.

Good luck to you.

htrent
08-11-2009, 07:31 PM
That's what I'd be revisiting if I'd gotten that kind of comment from both places I'd sent it.

Oh, it was just one place - two readers that responded in the same email, sort of piggy-backing on each other.

Red-Green
08-11-2009, 11:12 PM
My assumption when I have a "editor didn't get it" response, I also approach with the need to reevaluate my submission plan. Because even good stories can bypass good readers. If I only get one of those responses, I figure I've sent it to the wrong magazine. I need to look more closely at the taste of editors I'm sending it to. If the editor tends to publish "spoon-fed" stories, well, he must like it that way. And if you're not willing to spoon feed your readers...find an editor who isn't looking for that.

Phaeal
08-12-2009, 12:00 AM
Sure, there's always going to be the "want" to respond. Who doesn't want to defend their work, if you think it's being falsely criticized? Write the response, then delete it. Do not send. Ever. Unless you've been invited to resubmit with revisions, just file the rejection, take or ignore the feedback, and move on.

And write a nice note thanking the editor for the feedback. You'll rack up karma points you can cash in later for a new laptop.

htrent
08-12-2009, 01:41 AM
I could use some karma points...hmm.