Having an Editor or Publisher Reject Your Work Doesn’t Necessarily Mean It Sucks

Photo credit: Taskin Ashiq on Unsplash

Rejection can be a tough pill to swallow but it’s a part of the game. At least for any even semi serious player. As a writer, the bitter after taste of rejection is one you’ll never be able to fully escape, so you might as well learn to embrace.

Sure, it sucks to put your heart and soul into something, courageously send it to an editor and wait patiently — only to have it rejected 48 hours or a month later. I’ll be honest, I’ve gotten rejections on things I forgot I wrote.

It could be said, I don’t give the first fuck about what an editor thinks of my work. While I want them to publish it, that’s really the extent of it. I’m not looking for validation. While I appreciate feedback and do take their professional opinions into consideration — they don’t get to decide whether it’s good or not. They are simply the decider of whether it works for them or doesn’t. You know what editors are? People, just like you and I. Editor, reader, writer — it doesn’t matter — their opinions are still subjective.

While actual publishers and editors probably have a better idea of whether or not a piece of writing is well put together than say, your local car mechanic or short order cook, their opinions are still just that — opinions.

Here’s another thing to consider. Many editors here, double as car mechanics and short order cooks. They have day jobs. It’s possible a company or media outlet once rejected their application for an editing job, as they just did your work. I don’t say that as a jab at any editor here, I’m just stating facts.

I’ve had editors from media outlets and publishers of websites reject my work and tell me what was “wrong” with it, only to end up publishing it myself and have it find an audience that found it valuable or entertaining.

To let a single person be the ultimate decider of whether or not your work lives or dies is a mistake. There’s plenty of potential non literary reasons they could have decided not to publish what you wrote. Maybe you expressed an opinion they strongly disagreed with or took a stance they found offensive.

It’s possible something you said, struck a cord within or hit too close to home. If they’re an outlet or platform who pays writers, maybe it just wasn’t in the budget. Or it could be as simple as what you sent them, wasn’t a good fit for their publication’s or platform’s overall theme or message.

A common beginner’s mistake I see others make here, is setting unrealistic expectations for their writing or specific pieces of work. If you’ve been writing here less than a month and only have a handful of followers, you really should not be comparing your claps and stats to Benjamin P. Hardy’s.

A lack of exposure is what I consider to be every beginning writer’s biggest obstacle. The most perfectly thought out and put together piece of writing published by someone with a handful of followers will not do as well as one an elite player vomited up, without so much as editing it. That’s just basic probability at work.

Another phenomenon I’ve noticed on this platform is one I’ve dubbed the popularity bias. Sometimes, readers clap for posts, simply because a whole bunch of other people did. A basic rule I’ve come to discover to be true about most social media platforms — including this one — is the more people like a post or clap for it, the more likely it is others will continue to do the same.

This is partly because of how the algorithms of these platforms work.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve clapped for pieces based off who they were written by before I’ve even read them — in an effort to support them, keep them motivated and let them know I read it. I know others do the same for me, at times. Plenty of my stories probably deserved less of an applause than they received, I don’t lie to myself. But the support is appreciated because it leads to exposure.

Why I bring all of that up is because, to let a single editor or any individual decide whether your work should be seen by the general public or not, is to do yourself an incredible disservice. Because with every new post comes a new potential reader. With every reader, comes a person who may be inclined to share it on their social media accounts. You have to get it out there and see.

Of course, there are times your work gets rejected because it’s simply not up to par. Perhaps your subject was one dear to your heart but not many others care about. Maybe we’re just not all as passionate about kale salads as you are. That’s okay. It doesn’t necessarily make it bad writing, you just have to pivot.

What all of this really boils down to is that so many aspects of writing are completely subjective. Sure, professional editor’s have professional opinions. But at the end of the day they are still just exactly that — opinions. My advice is to at least seek a second opinion before murdering any of your darlings.

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