Sunday, May 25, 2014

Count Submissions, Not Rejections

Many writers have a number they track. For most of us, it's the number of rejections we've received. Somewhere around rejection 100, I began to take a perverse pride in the growing tally. Rejection is the author's badge of honor, right?

Then picture book writer Carol Gordon Ekster posted this on Twitter the other day:
It occurred to me that I've been counting all wrong. The number I should be tracking is not my rejections, but my submissions. As Carol wrote, you can't get published if you don't submit. And you can't control your rejections -- only your submissions.

Order Deadwood, coming from Spencer Hill, June 24, 2014
I'm not advocating for leafleting the publishing world with books that aren't ready, to editors who aren't right. But if you're counting submissions, there's no number that's too high. You don't reach a wall -- you keep building.

So what's my number? Somewhere over 300. That's 300 times I reached out, 300 times I had faith in my work, 300 times when I was willing to risk my ego, 300 times I allowed myself to hope.

And yes, I'm proud of that. I admit that my number of rejections and my number of submissions are very, very closely correlated. So I don't need to tell you my rejection number.

I have one book coming out in three weeks. If that percentage doesn't sound impressive, that's OK. That one wouldn't have happened without the 300.

What's your number?  

About Kell Andrews:  Kell Andrews writes picture books and middle grade novels. Deadwood, her middle-grade contemporary fantasy about a cursed tree, comes out from Spencer Hill Middle Grade June 24, 2014.


  1. I stopped counting long ago. I didn't find the numbers useful or revealing, but this could be my own delusion. Got to pick which works for us, ey? ;)

  2. So glad to have inspired your post! The odds aren't great, but they'd be worse if I didn't submit so much. I have lots of stories! And the ones that sold were targeted correctly. I'm in the process of my 5th manuscript selling. Keep at it and good luck with your book coming out. Now the hard work really begins!

  3. Carol is just that positive in person. She is so right too.

  4. Very inspiring. Submit on, people! We have to hit it one day.

  5. It sure does seem like a numbers game sometimes. I had to submit hundreds of stories to various magazines before I sold one to Highlights. So yes, I agree. Count the submissions!

  6. Inspirational post. I love these words of wisdom :D


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