Do You Submit like a Man?

Writing tips
Rejections and Acceptances

Writing fiction is for the insane.

If, and only if, you have a slightly kooky brain can you keep writing, sending your work out for publication, have them slugged back on your face, and write again. Most of it for less than a pittance too: it doesn’t earn you back money for the coffee you chug down while writing.

Have had a spree of acceptances lately– starting from the Lunch Ticket, The First Line, and all the way to the Griffith Review. But, looking back on the frequency of submissions– the 20-odd stories I’ve had accepted by journals and anthologies have taken hours of time, and yes, tons of Rejections.

My approach is this:

Writing, and acceptance for publication are two different things. Writing is from a white-hot place of emotion, then pruning from a place of balance. Submitting for publication is just where the process ends– just like cooking ends at the table, and in someone’s stomach. No point getting emotional about it. All that would do is convince you that your short story or novel sucks.

When writing, I write for myself, and one ‘ideal’ reader. When submitting, I look around for who might be hungry for what I’ve cooked on the page. If someone doesn’t want it, I offer it to others, and keep offering it, till at long last, it gets accepted. If a piece gets rejected, I turn around and submit it to others on my list of ‘places to submit.’ If someone rejects a piece, but asks for more, I submit it as soon as their reading period allows.

According to this article, by Kelli Russell Agodon, this method is called submitting ‘like a man.’

When we send a rejection to a man and ask a man to resubmit, he thinks, “They like my work and they want more; I better get it to them soon before they don’t want it anymore.” And the submission is sent. (Right now, there’s that cliche’ line about men “wanting to spread their seed” going through my head.)

When we ask a woman to resubmit she thinks, “When would be the best time to resubmit? I don’t want to seem pushy, but I do want to get them my work. Maybe I should wait a few months so I don’t seem desperate or so I don’t irritate them by submitting so fast. Do they really want to see more work, or were they just being nice? I’m sure they want to see more work, but I should probably wait a few months, I wouldn’t want to be an imposition and it would be better manners and more respectful to wait a bit. Or should I? Yes, I’ll play it cool and wait a few months. I wouldn’t want to impose.”

And then the woman writer waits or forgets or send her submission out a few months to a year later. (The generalization of women over-thinking things is going through my head right now.)

Not a fan of generalizations or gender bias, but must admit I used to think like the ‘woman’ in the above excerpt. Over the years, as I’ve detached ego and emotions from the process of submitting work, I’ve become more like the ‘man’ Kelli Russell mentions.

Maybe there are two ways of thinking on this ‘submission issue’– not necessarily dependent on gender, but quite different, anyway. One is emotional, involved, and the other, straightforward and unemotional.

So, the writers in my audience (and I know there are many) how do you deal with rejection? How soon do you send out a novel or short story after being rejected? Do you submit like a ‘man’ or ‘woman’?

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !


Add Yours
  1. Robert J V Christensen

    Great article, Damyanti! I need to submit more, in all honesty. I’m sometimes too cautious in choosing just the right agent or publication to submit to and then I sit and wait.

    Many good things can only happen when you come out of your shell and give it a try. I was fortunate enough that I won a scifi short story contest this May and I was shocked to hear some of the other people at the convention talk about how they “almost” submitted. Some had ideas, some even fleshed out most of a story. They gave up before they finished or simply decided not to enter for whatever reason.

    Rejection feels awful and not winning can be a consequence of competition. However, everyone who wins at any competition has one thing in common. They entered and gave it their all. Writers, you’ve got to give yourselves that chance! If you don’t ever jump from the nest you will never know what it’s like to soar among the clouds!

    I’m going to start submitting to places that accept simultaneous submissions, that way my waiting time for responses will be more productive given that I’m not waiting six weeks for one rejection. In that same amount of time I’ll get seven or eight rejections! 😉

  2. plainandsimplepress

    LOL! I always tell my students (and even a few clients) that you need to have a stainless-steel ego to succeed in this business.

    Thanks for the “like” at Writers Plain & Simple, btw.

  3. nanluke81

    Love this post! I haven’t reached the point of submitting yet; I am still firmly in the writing “for myself, and one ‘ideal’ reader” phase. But what great advice! Thanks for that.

  4. Austin Hackney

    I make like a turtle.

    What I mean by that is over the years I’ve built a tough, rejection-proof carapace that enables me to just keep writing and submitting as if I don’t give a damn. But there’s a soft underbelly hidden away that feels it every time.

    Fiction is not my bread and butter, although I recently decided to really make a push in that direction. It’s my work as a copywriter that puts butter on my bread. That doesn’t, at this stage in my career, involve much rejection as it’s mostly pre-commissioned work and I have a network of established clients. But my policy for fiction is twofold as I run two writing streams. In one, I research a market first and aim to craft something for it. The other is when I just write from my passion and then try and find a market that might take it. In the case of the former I usually have a couple of other markets lined up and it just goes straight out again. For the latter, it’s more difficult.

    One of my stories just recently sold and published was rejected by 13 markets before it was accepted. There are stories of famous writers being rejected gazillions of times before hitting their first published milestone.

    There is no guarantee of success in this game. None. But there is one sure-fire, iron glad guarantee of failure. And that’s to give up. Life is too short for that.

    • Damyanti

      So much wisdom in this, Austin. In fact this is good enough to be a blog post all by itself. I do sometimes craft stuff towards a call for sub, but most times I have no control over what I create– it controls me, and not the other way round. I don’t think there will come a day where fiction would pay for my bread and butter, but I think aiming for that is one way of being serious about this whole thing.

      And I’m a turtle, too. I began today with rejection, and it pinched my soft underbelly a fair bit. But I’m off writing and submitting again today– because that’s what I do, I’m a writer :).

  5. Roji Abraham

    I think a lot of writers self-publish these days to save on the time they spend applying to publishing houses. Having done that myself, I now sorely miss the marketing reach of a large publisher. What should an author do if he has already self published a book that is getting a lot of good word-of-mouth feedback but is not able to reach his audiences due to the lack of exposure?

    Can a literary agent help?

    • Damyanti

      Roji, a lot of Indie authors band up to promote their work. I would encourage you to join these groups, spread the word through your blog and social media: it takes time to build up contacts. More than anything else, the advice I’ve heard from Indies is to keep writing and publishing– taking care to improve your work all the time. Hope this helps.

      • Roji Abraham

        Thanks a lot Damyanti. I will look for that. However, I am hoping that a reputed publisher will also take a look at the work and think about republishing it. Does that sound feasible?

  6. clbutor

    I sometimes take rejection too seriously and shy from immediately re-applying, but I’d argue that’s due to insecurity not gender. I know plenty of female writers constantly plugging away and an equal number of male writers who just give/gave up. I don’t find the term “submit like a man” particularly helpful since it plays into this mindset that men are more suited to be writers, but I understand the sentiment behind it.

    • Damyanti

      Absolutely, agree. gender bias is neither true, nor helpful. Lots of women submit ‘like men’ and vice versa. I took the title from the original article, and I think it was meant in a jocular, light-hearted way.

      • clbutor

        I got that impression too, but I wonder if anyone’s tried to chart the submission processes of influential/famous/well-known authors. I think it could be interesting to see if, historically, there’s been any submission patterns among sexes, time periods, races, class, etc. Sarah Stodola comes close in her book Process, which I recommend.

  7. clbutor

    Reblogged this on The Adventures of a Pissed Off Millennial and commented:
    I’ve heard this gender biased mindset before in a few places, and while I ultimately think its validity rests on each woman, it’s also important to remember how impersonal rejections are. Very often, people take rejections too seriously and too personally when we should just shrug and move on. This is a good reminder.

  8. clbutor

    Reblogged this on The Adventures of a Pissed Off Millennial and commented:
    I’ve heard this gender biased mindset before in a few places, and while I ultimately think its validity rests on each woman, it’s also important to remember how impersonal rejections are. Very often, people take rejections too seriously and too personally when we should just shrug and move on. This is a good reminder.

    • gruundehn

      clbutor, I have been told many times that rejection by an editor merely means that the editor could not accept the submission AT THAT TIME and nothing more. I have also been told that writers tend to have extremely fragile egos so entering a field where rejection is the norm is counter-intuitive.

  9. Julia Lund

    You said in one of your responses that writing should be unconscious, like getting undressed for a shower. I love that. The first time I shared something I’d written, I felt naked in the in-front-of-complete-strangers-who-were-fully-dressed way.

    Years ago, I did research on the attainment gender gap in schools. Generalising, the male brain is wired for risk taking, the female for reflecting; I hadn’t thought of that in terms of submitting.

    Like you, I write because something drives me – not ambition – just the pure love of it combined with a compulsion that won’t let me stop. I submit. I get rejected. I revise in the light of advice. That’s resilience. I self publish because I decided eighteen months ago that I didn’t need, nor have the time to wait for (life marches on) a stranger’s permission to allow others to read my work. I’d love the traditional route to open up for me, but it’s just one path to publication. More lucrative? Perhaps. But that’s not why I write.

    • Damyanti

      Yes, un-self-consciousness is the primary condition of good writing, imo.

      I don’t know if gender plays into risk-taking, but you might be right. Sometimes I think males and females take similar extents, but different types, of risks.

      I don’t know if I submit to be read by more people, or for money. I just do it by rote– written, ready, polished? Time to submit. I do it in a (mostly) detached way, and it helps that most acceptances and rejections come in way late, much after I’d forgotten I submitted, lol.

      On a more serious note– I think self-pub requires a lot of courage, and initiative. I’m willing to lie low, and wait for trad pub– I can always work hard in the interim, and the further the day I need to worry about stuff like marketing and networking (ideally? never!), the better.

  10. TanGental

    Maybe it’more a personality thing than a gender thing? If you have the sort of extrovert personality that wants to get on with things then off it goes; if you like to think things through then you wait, finding reasons to hold back just to make sure it’s just so. In my experience both sorts of people reside in both genders. Me, I’d submit (but then I am a bloke!)

    • gruundehn

      You may be right there TanGental. The connection to gender may be that one gender tends to be more introvert or extrovert even if the difference is slight. I wouldn’t fit the conventional pattern expected being pretty much an introvert man – and a former NCO at that.

  11. Daniel Tomlinson

    I can identify with both perspectives. I do not write for monetary gain yet, but timing is everything for anything we attempt including writing. The frontal lobe controls both perspectives, and due to the fact that we over compensate as human beings we are in danger of either or. There has to be a balance between the two. That’s the million dollar question as women and men. How do we ascertain when to deliver? It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. There are so many factors at work that when we choose either or is incomplete. It’s got to be both and.

  12. Kalpanaa

    This is exactly what I needed to read today as I question why I write, or rather why I don’t write enough, or rather – why I don’t submit enough. Thank you for the words of wisdom.

    • Damyanti

      As long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing, Kalpanaa, you’re all right. The time for writing more, and submitting more will come.

  13. Gargi Mehra

    Congratulations, Damyanti! Thats a great spree! I have submitted a couple of times to First line and fallen short, but hope to try again soon.

    • Damyanti

      Thanks, Gargi. The editors of The First Line are some of the best I’ve worked with– they actually helped improve my story so much. They had a problem with one of the paragraphs, but they discussed it in detail, and accepted some of the options I offered them instead. Keep submitting– that’s what I do.

      Most times, it is NOT the quality of your writing, but that the editors already have something similar, or want something specific. You’ve had such a great run of publications as well 🙂

  14. gruundehn

    I stopped submitting years ago so that when I did submit I would submit three stories of a series. I figure three stories shows that I would not be a one hit wonder. However, Of the three novels I was working on, I stopped working on #2 & #3 in order to work on another novel which was taking over my mind, which I stopped in order to work on other novels. My attention span has gotten too short. I need to get IMPERIAL INVESTIGAOR out of my mind so I can get MAGIC IN THE MONASTERY out of my mind so I can work on the series of space novels.

  15. Jacqui Murray

    I don’t write stories for lots of reasons, but I hadn’t considered that submitting stories means lots more rejections. Yikes! One more reason to stick with novels. Then only every 18-24 months do I have to suffer through that firepit.

  16. lexacain

    Congrats on all your acceptances! Persistence pays off! It’s been years since I subbed short stories and I never got a “We want to see more” with a rejection. But I’ll tell you that listening to ezine publishers, when asked to revise & resubmit, women do, men don’t. Men tend to get defensive and refuse the publishers’ suggestions. Women want to please. Men can’t get over the ego bruise and often say “Take it or leave it as is.”

  17. Marc Kuhn

    Holy crap—look at all this that you’ve caused, Damyanti! What you have here is a comment feeding frenzy and while I was part of it and you responded to my comment with a very suitable comment, I can’t help commenting further since you and others have brought out the worst in me….and that is: I guess I declare myself officially unmanly, though I hasten to add not to the extent as has Bruce Jenner. I am unmanly because I cannot accept rejection when it comes to my writing. I can accept criticism and correction but the constant rejection disguised with good wishes on high-end stationary, much of it delivered in a stamped out pre-written nicey-nice phony paragraph of poo is unacceptable and I take it personally. Yeah, that was a horrible sentence but there’s a lot of truth in it. Writing is personal, very personal, just like any art form and I do not believe for one moment that any artist is going to walk away from chronic rejection not feeling wounded. I don’t buy it. To say rejection has been good for you because it has led to direct contact and tutoring from the rejectors is very nice. But most of us never get that far to be blessed with a one-on-one. We just get the rejection. I wallow in it for a few days and then begin anew. There is enough rejection in life that I do not need to seek it out. It comes on its own. So my strategy is to continue writing and self-publishing what I think is worthy and if someday, perchance, reads what I write and wants to publish it they will come to me and I shall know true unsolicited happiness. I think I overstated my case and overstayed my time. Great posting, Damyanti. You make my jealous… Excuse me while I go man up
    -marc kuhn

    • Damyanti

      Marc, thanks again for taking the time. I completely hear you on rejections– they are seldom pleasant.

      You’ll never overstay your time on this blog unless you’re rude to someone in the blog audience.

      Your choice is perfectly valid, as I said before. Feel free to sound off about it as long as you like, and you’re welcome to overstate your case here.

      Take care, and don’t let this stress you out.

      The internet is lousy in communicating emotions, but with this comment I send you a hug and a smile. 🙂

  18. Laurie Welch

    When I hear, for example, that Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time got 26 rejections before one publisher took it, I just know that she believed in her book, despite what the ‘authorities’ were telling her. But still, I think it takes a steeled heart and to keep submitting (like a man? like Madeleine L’Engle?) to keep yourself going. And maybe lots of chocolate!

    • Damyanti

      Definitely lots of chocolate, Laurie. And some wine. Or whatever else that keeps you going. Yes, we have to divorce results from the activity– submit without expectations in order to keep going. Hopefully, though, in the end we’d have some results!

  19. Arlee Bird

    I’ve never thought of this topic in quite this way. Besides it’s been decades since I submitted any written work anywhere. But you’ve given me some consideration concerning something else I’ve been doing. Tomorrow I’m going to make a phone call and get back on a project I started recently and have not been getting a response on.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Road trippin’ with A to Z
    Tossing It Out

    • Damyanti

      Lee, am glad this prompted to to action on your project. For me, submission to mags etc has become part of my life, and I’ve found the only way to keep going is my current mindset.

  20. waynemullane

    This was a good article and very encouraging. I’ve currently got an author proofreading my work. She is experienced with self-publishing on Kindle too. With that and with the info I read in your article it makes me more determined 🙂

  21. G. R. McNeese

    I haven’t submitted a story to anyone since my college days. I’m hesitant to submit anything for fear of rejection and for lack of knowledge on the genre and what they’re looking for. I know the last two reasons shouldn’t be reasons at all; the fear is real.

    I guess this is where research comes in. As far as the fear goes, I know why I’m afraid. I’m cozy in my comfort zone; I’m afraid to take chances. That should be more of a opportunity to grow, not a hinderance.

    • Damyanti

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, and talking about your fear.

      I had fear too, but that was when I had attachment and expectation. Now I’ve reduced this submission gig to a mechanical process: I submit, it gets rejected, I tweak/ don’t tweak, and submit again.

      The only joy I have is of writing a good line or finishing a story. When I get pubbed, I’m buzzed for a few hours, and then it goes. But when I’ve written something that’s surprised me, the joy and validation is more lasting.

      I know your fear is real– but the first step is to know you don’t have to live in it. Baby steps will help you walk out of it, if you’re willing.

      • G. R. McNeese

        Baby steps, baby steps. That’s what everyone says. And I know that’s what I need to do. I feel like because I haven’t submitted anything in such a long time, I feel like I lost my voice. I’m sure it’s easy to get back once I write more frequently and submit my work. I think it’s just a matter of finding the right platform.

  22. Elisabeth

    My attitude about submitting is, why not? Rejection isn’t personal; I’m already not published, so why would not getting published hurt? It doesn’t mean anything about my writing, either: both better stories and worse stories get published, so if mine doesn’t happen to strike a particular chord at a particular moment, it just doesn’t and that’s all. I’ll happily submit the next thing I write.

    The only thing that has me reconsidering is the length of time some publications take to respond. One magazine left me hanging for four months and then didn’t even notify me when they rejected the piece. For four months the piece couldn’t be submitted elsewhere, and I couldn’t publish it myself, and then I didn’t even receive the courtesy of a form-letter email. I am beginning to consider not submitting to that publication anymore.

    Another publication I regularly submit to responds within 3 weeks and is always pleasant. There is no reason not to continue with them, regardless of how many rejections I receive.

    • Damyanti

      That’s absolutely the winning attitude, Elisabeth. Fact is, rejection isn’t personal at all, and very often isn’t even a reflection of the quality of writing.

      I try to only submit to places that would take simultaneous subs. I’ll aim for the highest rung I can imagine myself placing– send it out to few of those– when the piece gets rejected, I move on to the next tier, and so on.

      I have an excel sheet and everything, and it’s all very clerical. I try to read the mags I submit to, so that takes time as well, but makes the process more enjoyable at the same time.

  23. Leigh W. Smith

    First, Damyanti, a hearty congratulations on the string of publications (or upcoming ones); I have wanted to break into The First Line, in particular, for a few years, but events have conspired and I haven’t had the passion and, thus, have only submitted to them maybe a couple times in the past. This is a fantastic topic that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, and I love your provocative headline (I hope it gets a lot of reads!). For me, it’s difficult, because the bulk of what I write, I feel anyway, is really hard to peg genre-wise, so I might submit to one market or contest and be really hard-pressed to find another applicable market. That’s not to say I (always) write on spec, so to speak, to a contest or market, but I realize, reading and thinking about your post, that I do tend to do that. And you’re spot-on, I think, in the way you organize your writing mission, so to speak. Write what fires you first, then find the market rather than vice-versa. It’s clear to me now that this process is part and parcel (beyond your talent and hard work) of your success. Anyway, awesome post. I can’t wait to read all the responses. Thank you!

    • Damyanti

      Leigh, thanks for your kind words– I’m happy to be accepted at First line. I got in with a flash piece I wrote as part of a challenge at a writing group– I just chose to use the “first line” as the prompt.

      Let me tell you I have no talent. Zilch, Nada. I just have this huge passion to read, and write.

      When I read some of the stuff I wrote 6 years ago, I can’t stop laughing and crying, for all the wrong reasons you can imagine.

      I’m self taught, so I’ve read and practiced with a lot of how-to-write books, gone to workshops and taken feedback on board. One of the biggest things I learned is not to bother with an audience when I’m writing. Writing is about being unselfconscious, like stripping for a shower in my own bathroom. Honest, unembarrassed, functional, routine.

      Once I’m done, and I’ve edited and polished, I start wondering about the markets I can send out to. I’m fortunate to be part of a group where some members generously share places to submit to, and I keep reading mags and figuring out which ones would fit my work. My work doesn’t really fit at a lot of places– it is too literary to be crime, and sometimes it is too straighforward to be literary, and so on.

      If you really look at it, my hits with mags aren’t really a ‘success’ — loads of writers a lot younger than me have gone places.

      But in another way, it is a huge success, because my writing absorbs me, and no matter how tortured I am, I’m almost always occupied with something outside my ego: in the head of a character who is very not-me, in the middle of a setting where I’m not at. It’s like meditation on some days, and on others it is like discipline, spiritual training.

      When the result of these come out, the stories, they get sent, and try their luck as they might. I don’t measure my success with theirs. They are on their own– I’ll help them the best I can as they stumble along, but they have their own fates, and I have mine, if that makes any sense.

  24. Marc Kuhn

    Call me unmanly, but I simply gave up submitting, period. Sex never entered the process…impatience did. I am too compulsive and too hyper to wait months for some editor to determine whether or not he/she likes something I wrote. I can complete a manuscript, have it published and on Amazon within days. It may not sell,but just knowing I did all that myself makes me light up an imaginary cigarette (I don’t even smoke) and say, “Wow, that was good for me…how ’bout you?”

    • Damyanti

      Marc, that’s a perfectly valid choice, and each of us must choose according to what makes us feel happy.

      I did self-pub a flashfic chapbook on Amazon, and it was a good experience.

      But I guess I like the idea of trad publication– I’m an untrained, self-taught writer, and with each new publication and feedback session, I feel I grow as a writer.

      For me, publication is good because it is a learning experience. The self-pub (or any pub) buzz lasts for too short a time for me to publish for that alone.

      I write cos that makes me happy, and send out for pub cos it trains me to polish my work. Recently, an editor from a lit journal worked for over a week with me to polish a short flash piece, and it taught me so many things about writing, and editing.

  25. Run Wright

    I submit like a fearful, mouse of a woman. It’s been MONTHS since my latest round of rejections. I don’t know what I’m waiting on to try again.
    Great post.

    • Damyanti

      We can’t force ourselves when it comes to writing, but I find that forcing myself to submit to deadlines has helped a lot. I’ve made about 60 submissions in the past two months, and setting aside a day in the week to do just that has helped. I find I do more when I push myself.

        • Damyanti

          Yes, I set aside weekends to submit as many as I can, and most weekends, manage to submit to seven places. It is easier if you write short fiction, like I do.

  26. M.E. Garber

    I submit stories to the “please send more” markets as soon as I feel I have something appropriate for them. Which makes me…mid- gender? ;-). Nice post!

    • Damyanti

      Submitting as soon as you have something appropriate makes you a ‘man’ I’d say lol. Thanks for dropping by, and the comment.

  27. Bernadette

    Generally, I find the whole overthinking part worse than the rejection. When you’re rejected, in a professional not a personal sense, then it’s done and dusted. There’s a sense of closure, you can move on. You can figure out, what will I do now, how can I improve? When I overthink everything, then it’s a never-ending game of what-if. I think I try to avoid overthinking, while remembering when rejection so often comes that this isn’t the end of the world (no matter how much it feels like it 😑) 😄

    • Damyanti

      You’re right. I try not to over-think these days. Not to say I don’t put any thought into my subs– just not as maniacally much as I used to.

  28. vishalbheeroo

    Been rejected a couple of time and it does feel bad coupled with anxiety of not really making it. But, I keep going and knowing that I gotta prove myself, knowing there are younger and better writers in the competitive world. Thanks for the article and it helps a lot.

    • Damyanti

      Hi Vishal– don’t let rejection deter you. It is by subbing and tweaking repeatedly that the best writers have made their mark.

  29. draliman

    I have yet to submit anything. I dither for ages over clicking the “publish” button on WordPress and then I click it and panic so I need to sort that first in my head. Baby steps 🙂

  30. Lata

    I have yet to try submitting anything but can still relate to what you have said here. The Internet has created millions of writers. How does one get even heard (read)? I wish there were talent hunters scrawling the Web to identify talented writers and offer them commissions:)

  31. ANooP

    I have never submitted a work to anyone or any publication but then the very basic rule is to be void of emotions and deal with rejections without letting it affect you 🙂

    Great info! Thanks for sharing.

  32. lightravellerkate

    I’ve only been serious about writing fiction for the past two years. Recently I had a major competition win and interpreted that as a pat on the back from the Universe to “keep going!” But heres the thing;that story cameout of feedback and encouragement I got from a writers gtoup. So now I take every opportunity to get feedback before I submit. Its just so valuable and even if its not the case, I imagine those giving feedback are on my side and want to helpme improve. I liketo take a “learner” position.

  33. andfreed

    Rejection is always disappointing but as a writer I am used to it. Occasionally I spend a few days feeling discouraged but then I try to move on and resubmit as soon as possible.

    • Damyanti

      As writers, we will face rejection. Best accept it and move on. I hear you though. It does hurt. A bit. Ok, sometimes a lot. 🙂

  34. lucie

    I really think there’s something to this observation. I recently had a meeting scheduled with a prospective client and realised that I’d misplaced the document he’d sent me. I spent a miserable hour carefully crafting an apology, desperately trying to find a polite way to ask him to resend…and then I thought that if I were a man, I’d just straight out ask him to resend it without the crazy apology. So I tossed away the careful memo and sent in the “male” version of my request and guess what? There was NO problem. I got the gig. And it all sort of felt liberating.

  35. Beyond the picket fence

    Very timely as I had invested my piece (and of course a part of myself) into a recent call out. The rejection came in yesterday and last night I was giving up writing. Here I am today, reviewing the work and imaging where it will sit, I’m not giving up on it. Yet!

    • Damyanti

      Sometimes the only difference between a writer who publishes and one who doesn’t is ‘not giving up.’ Never give up– it is okay if one place doesn’t accept your work. Another will. Or you’ll tweak it and another will. Or, you’ll write another piece and that’ll get accepted. Persisted is so underrated in this business and talent so overrated. All the talent in the world won’t do any good if the writer gives up.

  36. Carrie Rubin

    I’ve grown thick skin about submitting, so I don’t dwell on it much anymore. When I’m ready to send, I send. Not sure if that makes me manly or womanly, but it makes me me. 🙂

  37. D. Wallace Peach

    I think for me, my attitude toward submission and rejections has changes as time goes on. For the first book it was an emotional roller-coaster and perhaps I over-analyzed every contact. Now, the process is routine, rejections don’t feel personal. Slow and steady persistence works. (Though I still do a happy dance when a book hits the presses).

  38. Lawrence Grodecki

    I’ve never gone through the submission process and it’s just as well, given that I’ve had so many comments about “really getting women” in my writing. I really need to start telling those ladies that I can be just as seedy as the next guy! 🙂

    PS – Interesting article…I think there are plenty of men who get trapped by “overthinking” as well as women. It sounds like such a drain.

  39. gabriel360live

    I really believe that you can write the greatest novel ever (not that I’ve done that) and it will get rejected on grounds of personal taste. If the person you’re submitting to simply doesn’t care for what you’ve written or the way you’ve written it, then a rejection isn’t so much a commentary on the quality of your work as it is a subjective perspective of your work. I feel like there is an audience for everything; it’s just a matter of how big that audience is and how to get their attention (which is what marketing is about).

    In my mind, a rejection is nothing more than the person saying, “I’m not the audience for this.” To me, that’s a signal to keep searching for that audience, if you choose to do that.

    To answer your other red-text questions:
    – I’m constantly working on my novel, getting feedback, making changes and fixing it up. So after I get a rejection, I’ll usually wait until my current round of fixes are done before sending out another query. I never feel like it’s finished, even though I’m a good deal into writing the sequel.
    – I’ve only been asked to resubmit once, but I definitely submitted like a man. Although, I can’t say it was because I thought they really liked my work, it was more about, “Hey, if they think they can sell my crap, I’m totally willing to let them.” 🙂

    • Damyanti

      In my mind, a rejection is nothing more than the person saying, “I’m not the audience for this.” To me, that’s a signal to keep searching for that audience, if you choose to do that.

      There’s so much truth and sage advice in there. Now if only I could communicate it to all the suffering writers out there.

  40. Steven Baird

    I never thought of in those terms before, but yes, I submit like a man. I always considered it more a personality trait than a gender one. Also a way to stay on top of my writing (I resisted the term “motivational tool”) and to try harder. Okay, I’ll leave the room now.

  41. Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh)

    It does seem to have a lot to do with over-thinking. Like reading between the lines. (Which often aren’t there.) In general, I guess we don’t really think about it beyond the request. Revise and resend? All right, I’ll get right on it.
    I think your analogy was great. Just keep offering it until someone says yes.

  42. Shery Alexander Heinis

    I’m still rather new to the game, but I remember sending some stories around, and all I got for my efforts were rejection letters. I stopped writing for a while, but now I’m writing poetry, and I doubt rejection will stop me from writing.