On writing: How to earn a rejection in 5 easy steps

imagesOF838UO0I have a masters degree in theology, but a doctorate in rejectology.

I know how to get rejected.

If you’ve been writing long, you probably know, too. Along with sleeplessness, carpal tunnel, and loneliness (oh, the loneliness!), it’s one of the hazards of being a writer (another book title?).

Whether it’s in response to a query, a proposal, or a complete manuscript, rejection slips are not usually accidental. They are genuinely earned. Here it is, the yellow brick road to earning your rejection:

1) Aim your material at the wrong market
Send your yachting article to Today’s Parent, or that parenting article to Popular Mechanics, or that religion article to Cosmo. Yeah, that’s a great idea.

Make certain that the readers you are targeting would never pick up that magazine. This will prove to the editor that you didn’t do your homework, and she’ll quickly generate that coveted rejection slip.

2) Send your query/proposal to the wrong person
Mr. Thomson loves getting his mother’s mail at work addressed to Mrs. Thomson. Or seeing his name spelled T-h-u-m-b-s-o-n.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Thomson is the company accountant; he shouldn’t be getting any ideas pitched to him. Make sure you’ve misspelled the wrong person’s name. Guaranteed rejection.

3) Send your material too soon
Send your first draft. Don’t carefully scrub the document for errors. And don’t let the concept cool or simmer. If it’s a fantastic idea today it will still be a fantastic idea next week. They always are. Send it off immediately, errors and all.

4) Send too little material
It doesn’t matter that their submission guidelines asked for the first 50 pages of your novel. You’ve only written one 15-page chapter, but it’s a doozy. Editors love to babysit people who can’t follow directions. They live for such opportunities. Send it in now!

5) Send too much material
If their guidelines ask for a query, send a proposal. When they ask for publishing clips, send sample chapters. If they ask for a sample chapter, send three. If they ask for a full proposal, send the entire manuscript. Editors will applaud your bold, inflexible attitude. Who wouldn’t want to work with you?

Precious few guarantees exist in the publishing industry. No one will tell you the secret, the combination, or the inside scoop that will guarantee success. But I’d like to make a bold guarantee: Follow the steps outlined above and your mailbox will overflow with rejections.

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