Mailbox Blues

© 2000 by Jared Sandmann

Webmaster's note: Normally these pages contain words of insight and past experiences of our more battle-scarred yet accomplished members. Now and then, when trying to make that first sale, it's good to hear from someone still in those proverbial trenches. Jared Sandmann is an up-and-coming writer whose fiction has yet to be published. He assures the world, though, people will come to know his name well. After all, "Sandmann" isn't too hard to forget. He lives in Ohio and, among other projects, is in the midst of writing his first novel.

It is said there are only two things you can't escape: death and taxes. Now, if you're a writer, add rejection to the list. You've been there before. You eagerly wait for the mail (either wanting to hug, or curse, the mail carrier), only to be greeted with a rejection letter. Depressing, isn't it?

Hang in there, though. At times, when we see the rejection slips start piling up, we can get a little discouraged--maybe even rethink if we want to be a writer. When we begin pondering this, maybe it is time to set down the pen and throw out the paper, we're sure to fail with such an attitude.

When an editor sends you a rejection, look at it, shrug your shoulders, and say, "Your loss." Then send the story, perhaps with a few modifications, to the next market on the list. Rejoice the publications, ignore the rejections, and move on.

Now for a few tips on how to beat the "mailbox blues." One word: organization! Keep meticulous records on all stories you submit for publication. Name of the story, date you sent it out, to what magazine, and any feedback from the editors. Make sure to place everything that pertains to your writing in one place, so you know it's safe.

Also, draft up a list of magazines that caught your eye. Update this list every other month or so, for the market is unstable. For each magazine, write down the name of the editor, address for submissions, what kind of payment, and important notes the editor points out (such as no porn, child abuse, splatterpunk, etc.)

I've gotten depressed at times, too. In fact, I framed my first rejection letter and hung it on the wall next to the computer. Whenever I'm down, I stare at the letter and continue writing, determined that someday I'll write something I'm satisfied with. Remember: The harder rejection is, the sweeter publication will be.

Make sure to start out small. Perhaps submit to non-paying magazines first. They may only pay in contributor's copies, but don't worry about it. After a few sales to the non-paying markets, submit to more established magazines. Being published boosts your chances of avoiding the dreaded slush pile.

Finally, after a few years of steady sales to paying markets, you can move on to bigger things. (Like trying to market that novel you've had sitting on the shelf since time began.)

I've talked to aspiring writers before. Those who were depressed because they thought they'll never see their name on anything. Others had writer's block and believed their well of ideas had dried up.

I always make sure to tell them to write something every day. Even if it's a few sentences. Eventually, the sentences will form paragraphs, which make the beginnings of a story or novel. Keep in mind, a writer's magnum opus begins with one word.

Above all, act like a professional. If you show respect toward an editor, they'll show you the same. We're rational people and need to present ourselves as such.

So the next time the mailbox dishes out a helping of rejection, be there waiting with a knife and fork.

"Mailbox Blues" © 2000 by Jared Sandmann. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the author's written permission.