How Do You Quantify Writing Rejection?

As a writer, I submit my writing just about everywhere in the hopes of seeing it in print or on a screen other than my own. But that means rejection is inevitable. Because it’s the end of the year, I wanted to look at my writing rejection stats for 2019. Sometimes counting writing rejection is the best way to show you’re moving forward.

I use Duotrope to research opportunities and track my submissions. The website has loads of information about what each outlet is looking for, when they want it and how long it will take them to respond. Although I haven’t changed my goal in a number of years, I usually try to average at least one submission per month.

I do whatever is necessary in order to maintain the equanimity we all need to withstand the disappointment and rejection that are the lot of every writer, no matter where we are in our careers. Dani Shapiro

I know this is pretty low compared to some writers. I know some writers who submit tons more than I do and who even strive for 10 times as many rejections. By aiming for rejections it takes the sting out of them and ensures they are doing a lot of submitting in a given year.

Last year I managed to submit 17 times. This doesn’t include submissions to publications or queries to agents which would increase both my submission count and the number of rejections I received.

Writing Rejection Statistics for 2019

Of those 17 rejections, I received two acceptances and seven rejections. I have not heard about the other six submissions yet. Other than being turned down, waiting is the hardest part of submitting for publication.

At the end of a miserable day, instead of grieving my virtual nothing, I can always look at my loaded wastepaper basket and tell myself that if I failed, at least I took a few trees down with me.
— David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

It takes a long time for publications to decide on which pieces will be included. Luckily Duotrope gives the average length of time it takes for each of the publications in its database to get back to writers. Of those I’m waiting to hear from, response time varies from 54 days to more than a year. The longest outstanding submission was sent in April. I sent the most recent this week.

No matter what I hear on those and the others that are still pending keeping track does tell me that I’ve tried this year. And trying is the most important part of writing.

How do you keep track of your goals? What numbers do you use to quantify your actions? What surprises you most about the numbers?


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  1. Ellen Hawley

    Some writers send out more work, but then some (and I don’t mean all of the ones who send out a lot, but most definitely some) send out work that’s not ready, or send it to all the wrong publications. I like your approach. And thanks for mentioning Duotrope. I hadn’t heard of it.

    I research publishers the way I learned to do it in the pre-internet days, by keeping an eye on book reviews and make a note of publishers I haven’t heard of before, then switching to the internet to look them up. It’s slow, but I do at least know they’re getting some visibility. And I track rejections on assorted scraps of paper that I’m always in danger of losing. I won’t argue that the tracking system has any advantages other than that I’m used to it.

    • Catherine Lanser

      I do like Duotrope since it is easy to enter items and isn’t too expensive to be a member. It seems to have most publications and if you like to write by topic, they track deadlines that way too.

      I need a better way to track publications I want to submit to. I track those in Duotrope, Submittable, notebooks, and open tabs on my Kindle as I come across them.

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