I Submitted 30 Pieces to 9 Magazines, and They Were (Almost) All Rejected. Let’s Talk About It!
About two years ago, I came up with a writing challenge for myself, and today I’m gonna talk about the pitfalls of that challenge!
This challenge is a prime example of why we don’t jump right into anything without a plan.
Let’s talk about it!
What Did I Do?
So what was this challenge?
Basically, I wrote a poem a day in April 2021 for National Poetry Writing Month. Then from about late April to early May, I submitted those pieces to magazines.
They pretty much all got rejected except for a couple of pieces. I pulled those out of submissions myself after over a year of waiting for an answer.
If that amount of waiting scares you, just know that everyone else got back to me relatively fast. I think about a few months wait at most.
The goal was to gain experience submitting pieces to another entity or person of sorts. I thought it’d be a good way to practice cold emailing for freelance writing.
Unfortunately, I was a bit too ambitious and made a lot of mistakes.
But what were those mistakes?
What I Shouldn’t Have Done
A lot of the issues here can be boiled down to: I did not give myself ample time to do everything.
I was trying to just jump in and do the work, and it backfired a little bit. Resulting in a very stressful couple of months.
I didn’t remember until I was writing this, but I also posted two blog posts during that April!
That means I wrote a poem a day for 30 days; researched, edited, and submitted those pieces to magazines; and then wrote two whole blog posts in April of 2021.
I think more than anything, I must’ve burnt myself out doing all that.
I jumped in way too deep.
And because I jumped in too deep, I made a lot of mistakes.
Which brings me to my next point: what are the mistakes I made?
Well, there are three sub-categories (below the time-management and planning categories) that I think made it guaranteed that I was rejected. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if I did these things I’d be guaranteed acceptance, but it probably wouldn’t have made my pieces an absolute “no.”
Regardless, let’s talk about them.
In terms of what the magazines were looking for in submissions, I don’t believe I did enough research.
I read their guidelines, but I didn’t look into their published works enough. I did read some of their published works, but I feel like I didn’t get a good feel for what they wanted exactly.
I wrote what I felt was close enough because I was on a huge time crunch. All the due dates for the magazines I picked out had submission periods from about early to mid-May.
So I ended up backing myself into a corner by picking deadlines that were way too soon for my goals. Which led to me not putting as much effort into researching and writing what I thought would be a good fit.
Again, because I didn’t give myself a lot of time before the submission deadlines, I barely had enough time to research and write. Which means I definitely didn’t have enough time to edit the pieces.
I spellchecked the pieces, and somehow, some of the pieces still had horrible typos, misspellings, and funky structures.
Even if the editors liked my writing, I’m sure they hated my awful spelling.
Like I said above, I was under a time crunch of my own making. Because I decided it was a good idea to write 30 poems in a month, and then submit them right away.
Just to be clear, it wasn’t actually a good idea.
If all the work I’ve done for this challenge wasn’t enough already, then having to write 9 personalized emails and messages left me drained.
My emails themselves were okay, though. I was actually pretty happy with them, and tried my best to make them professional.
The problem came with trying to make deadlines that I shouldn’t have been trying to hit.
What I’d Do Differently
As I’ve been saying, a lot of the problems I had came down to a lack of time and planning.
And to be clear, I understand that all of this rushing and mistakes and exhaustion was my own doing.
Part of the reason I’m talking about it is so others can learn from my mistakes.
If I wanted to do something like this again, I would look for magazines with a submission period months ahead of when I planned to write the pieces. I’d probably give myself a month for each part of the process (e.g. a month of research, a month of writing, a month of editing, etc.).
I’d do a lot more planning before I even started writing, and give each piece of writing all the time they need.
And maybe someone reading this thinks that one month is plenty of time, and maybe someone thinks they need a year or two. Either way is valid!
Do what works for you, just don’t burn yourself out like I did.
Know your limits.
Thank you for reading, and happy writing!
That must have been quite a blow to your ego, but what you did wasn’t a total loss.
I give you two thumbs up for being brave to do that.
You definitely learned from your experience and, at the very least, were able to write about it for others to learn. Thank you!
Poetry isn’t what I do. When I’m not working on my memoir I write a LOT of satirical flash fiction. Some are tamer than other, but most are very funny. I only say this because of the reaction I get in many Read & Critique rooms.
Thank you for talking about your journey!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeah, it was a bit of a hit to my ego. It was just really embarrassing to submit such half-baked pieces.
I wasn’t expecting to be published my first time ever submitting, so the rejections themselves didn’t hurt, but I felt crummy about my unpolished submissions.
Thank you! I’m pretty proud of myself, and as you said, it was a learning experience (an experience I’m glad to share with others!).
Oh, good luck with your memoir and your many flash fiction pieces!
And thank you for reading about my journey!
LikeLiked by 1 person