Every writer has had his own share of stinging rejection letters. One of the downsides of the writing craft is putting all your time and effort in concocting a “masterpiece,” only to have someone tell you that they refuse to publish it.
If you write feature articles, you are torn between pleasing three people: (1.) yourself; (2.) the editor, and (3.) your audience. I’ve never heard of a contented writer who continually wrote about a topic for which he has no passion. And I’ve never heard of an editor who kept accepting works from a contributor who couldn’t please his audience. That’s the main reason many articles get rejected.
When an editorial staff turns down an article you’ve written, here are several things you can do:
(1.) Put it away for a few days – or even weeks – and then take a second look at it.
But this time, do it objectively. Set aside your noisiest and most troublesome emotions, and get rid of the idea that the editor has personal biases against you. Also, never think for a moment that you’re not good enough to make it as a writer. Having set all these issues aside, proceed to evaluate your work.
You may want to ask yourself the following questions:
--Did I follow editorial guidelines?
--Did I submit a professionally-written article, or was I too careless about my spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.?
--Was my title catchy, or, at least, interesting enough? And was I able to follow through with excellent content?
--Was I able to offer a fresh perspective on my chosen topic or theme, or did I sound generic?
--Did my words flow lucidly?
--Did I aim for the right audience?
Be brutal with your assessment, no matter how exhausting. It’s worth it to learn to face the challenges of the writing life unwaveringly.
(2.) Rewrite and resubmit.
Make the necessary corrections and revisions, and proofread your rewritten article at least twice. Send it off once you’re confident that it will make a better impression this time.
(3.) Send the article to another publication as is.
There are many reasons editors turn down works. Even the most well written article can get a “no.” It may be ill-timed, which means that the editorial staff may not need the write-up you submitted as of the moment. Some publications, especially those that come out regularly, follow a strict editorial calendar. For a holiday issue, some writers may have to submit queries and articles six months in advance for consideration. If you’ve thoroughly evaluated what you see as immaculate prose, sending it to another publication may be the next best thing to do. They may be better able to use your material.
(4.) Use the same topic or theme, but make it appeal towards a different audience.
Let’s say your article about continuing education failed to cut it to the magazine for the college bound. Don’t fret! Why not aim for the market for busy professionals who are trying to learn something new on the side?
(5.) Derive other ideas, and then turn them into brand-new articles.
The first-person account about your summer home-based business can be reworded into a how-to procedure on setting up a business using minimal capital. A full-length, 1,500-word personal essay on siblings can be rewritten to suit a publication promoting effective family relations. An album review can be turned into an artist’s profile. Try to come up with as many creative ways to recycle articles. Sometimes what a writer needs is not a fresh idea, but a fresh way to treat an existing idea.