Friday, September 17, 2010
At the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference a week ago, one of the speakers mentioned some of the famous writers who have had a large number of rejections. When I started writing I submitted short stories to magazines and anthologies and on my 112th submittal sold my first story, “Never Trust a Poison Dart Frog,” to a publication titled, Who Died In Here? which was a collection of short stories with a death or a murder taking place in a bathroom. That ties James Lee Burke who was rejected 111 times for The Lost Get Back Boogie which, when published, was considered for a Pulitzer prize. Other ones of note: Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance had 121 rejections; Jack Canfield and Mark Vitor Hansen had 134 rejections for Chicken Soup of the Soul and Louis L’Amour had 200 stories rejected and more than 350 rejections before making a first sale; John Creasy had 774initial rejections. So the message is very clear—perseverance. As writers, just like sales people, we have to move past being told no, and the next one may be the one that’s accepted.