Saturday, 30 May 2009

From Here to Acceptance

I seem to have gone on rather a lot about rejections and how horrible they are and waiting and how horrible it is. But what about the good stuff?

The Acceptance! I wish I could put that word in bright twinkly letters so it sparkles.

I’ve had a very lucky week with three acceptances. The first was a ghost story to Bridge House for an anthology due out in October. Second was a story to Woman’s Weekly, third was to Fiction Feast.

I particularly enjoyed writing those three stories and it has taken the sting out of the recent rejections.

So for those who are still trying to break in to the magazine market, what should you expect? A letter? A phone call? An email?

My first acceptance (Secrets) was by letter. I still have that letter somewhere, but don’t ask me to find it. It’s in the garage with loads of other paperwork and only a brave soul would venture in there. You should see the size of the spiders – they have webs like funnels and they just have two legs poking out . . .

Where was I?

A letter/email might begin something like “We enjoyed your short story . . .” It may even go on to tell you why they liked it (take note, comments like that can be just as useful as rejection comments).

Or you may get a phone call from the fiction editor – and you will find yourself speaking to a friendly person who is genuinely delighted to be giving you the news that they want to use one of your stories.

Your acceptance letter may even arrive in one of your big brown envelopes. It will feel very slim . . . deliciously so.

That very first acceptance is always going to be extra special simply because it’s a first, but you never take an acceptance for granted, every one is special which is why you keep on going even when the rejections have been flooding in. (Oops I really wanted to write a blog without the R word but now I’ve done it about four times!)

And just a few words here about fiction editors. I have known quite a few over the past twenty-mumble-mumble years and the vast majority have been – and are – the nicest people you could wish to meet (not that I’ve met many, but you know what I mean). They aren’t in the business to hurt feelings or upset people and they would much rather accept a story than reject one.


  1. Congrats, Teresa! I look forward to seeing your story in the Bridge House anthology!
    I too have my first acceptance letter somewhere. I don't think there's a better feeling in the world than the feeling you get when you sell your first story!
    I think there's something in the air among fiction editors because I too have had a lucky week!

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  3. I can remember getting my first acceptance letter (from Best fiction - R.I.P), running upstairs and waving it at my husband who was in the bath at the time. If ever I want to go to a happy place, that's where I go. (The memory, I mean, not the bathroom!)

    They're all lovely, of course, but the first is definitely the best.

    Congratulations on your acceptances this week.

  4. Congratualtions on your acceptances this week :o)

    I can clearly remember a phone call from a certain editor (not that long ago) and I couldn't stop grinning throughout the whole call - my son thought I'd won the lottery and was visibly disappointed to discover I'd merely sold a story, but it felt like winning the lottery to me!

  5. Well done, it has been a good week for you.

    I can remember the excitement of my first acceptance; I bounced around the house like Tigger.

  6. That’s great, Geri! And I’m glad you’re going to be in the anthology too!

    What a lovely memory, Bernadette! It definitely does you good to remember the feeling that came with that first one. (And I loved your story in WW fiction special!)

    That’s terrific, Karen – I know just what you mean about the non stop smile! (I couldn't help smiling about your son!)

    That made me laugh, Patsy. The first thing I did after I got my first acceptance letter was to phone my mum and I’m pretty sure she was bouncing round like Tigger! I think she was even more pleased than I was and that’s saying something!

  7. A great week Teresa - congratulations on the acceptances.

    My first short story sale was to Chat - way back when they published fiction. The letter arrived in my own SAE and I left it unopened for a couple of days thinking it was a rejection. As you point out, though, the envelope's much thinner when it's an acceptance, so I should have realised.

  8. My first acceptance came by email and I had to read it over and over again before I could believe it was true.

    Congrats on yours x

  9. You didn't tell me about these acceptances!

    I could help Dad with your spider infested garage tomorrow. I would require cups of tea, however.

    And if the spiders attack us, it'll be every man for himself.

  10. Thanks Suzanne! I don’t think you always see beyond your own writing on the envelope. It must have been a lovely surprise to find your first acceptance in yours after avoiding it for a couple of days.

    I was the same, Helen. And you get that “can’t believe it” feeling with every new market you crack don’t you!

    Thank you, Mav – I’ll get the tea bags in! Trouble with disturbing garage spiders is that they retaliate by moving into the house!

  11. Glynis Scrivens1 June 2009 at 03:44

    I keep all my acceptance letters! The first was to Woman's Day and any of Julie's acceptances are still special. Haven't had any editors phone. What does Norah sound like, by the way? Aren't we lucky they don't phone with rejections? I've got a story in that Ghosts anthology too. Am very pleased - it'll be my first appearance in a book. Nice to know I'll be in such good company

  12. That's great, Glynis! Can't wait to see that book when it comes out. I love ghost stories!

    Norah sounds - well, very warm and normal - and she is so easy to talk to!

    I'd never thought of rejections by phone - oh that would be very hard wouldn't it! So glad they don't!

  13. Congratulations on the sales!

    My first acceptance was a phonecall while I was on holiday. I came home on a Friday evening to an answerphone message to phone the magazine fiction office. And then had to wait until Monday to ring them and see what it was about. 60 hours of asking my husband - they wouldn't phone to reject, would they? It must be a sale, mustn't it? I drove him bananas.

  14. My first acceptance came when I was bedridden and awaiting an operation to fix my back. My reaction was "Oh, that's nice, but when will I get my operation?" Once I was out of pain though, I was able to savour the sheer wonderful pleasure of someone saying "yes" - the appreciation of this has never left me. There's a uniquely warm glow to knowing your story has been appreciated by someone who reads as many of them as a fiction editor. It's something to cling onto when the R-word-we-won't-mention gets me down! Congrats on acceptances, Teresa.

  15. That weekend must have seemed endless, Womag!

    Thanks Lydia. Your first acceptance sounds particularly sweet - once you were out of pain. My first from My Weekly (I was desperate to be published by them) came when I was in hospital and not allowed visitors - my husband read the letter to me over the phone - I've never forgotten the feeling!

  16. My first acceptance was actually a rejection, and it was by telephone. The fiction editor of Just Seventeen (how far can you tell I'm going back) loved reading all of my stories, but sadly none of them was quite right. And she loved this one too, which sadley was also not quite right. However, she also freelanced for True Romances (now defunct along with the rest of Argus), and did I mind terribly if she sold it to them instead? Not if she OFFERED it to them, but if she SOLD it.

    Best rejection I ever had and, as it was my first, it was the best acceptance too. Although I agree, even now, nearly 30 years on, I still get stupidly excited every time I get an acceptance and we should be able to put the word in twinkly, sparkly lights.

    Great blog, nice to find you at last (via Womag), and I've added a link on my blogroll. Hope that's ok.

  17. Oops, apologies for the typos - excited again, y'see. ;-)

  18. Wow! That must have been fantastic, Diane - a rejection and an acceptance all rolled into one!
    It was a shame when True Romances and the others went wasn't it. What were they? Woman's Story and True story I seem to remember.
    I'm delighted you've added me to your blogroll - thank you!