Rejection statistics

Found this in my files; I actually went through and did the math a few weeks ago.


For some reason (no doubt a procrastination-related one), I felt compelled today to examine my rejection-slip history. Seeing as we all agree that rejection is an important part of being a writer. 🙂

Going partly by records and partly by memory of various stories, I come up with about 175 rejection slips over 14 years of working seriously at this. This comes to roughly one rejection per month.

These 175 rejections resulted in 36 sales (32 short stories and 4 novels), for an average of about 4 1/2 rejections each.

I suspect an actual graphing would show an odd distribution though, with spikes at both the 0-1 and the 8+ ends of the scale. This is partly the result of some invitational anthologies, but not entirely. It seems I often write stuff that either sells right away, or sells after a very long time. Which I suppose means it’s true one shouldn’t give up hope after a couple of rejections; but one should be prepared (or I should be prepared), after the first few rejections, to settle in and stick it out for the long haul.

I suspect the density of rejections also would be higher in earlier years, but perhaps not as much higher as one might expect–and not in proportion to the improvement in the quality of my work over those years.

I also come up with 11 unsold projects (many of them older works that have since been pulled from circulation), meaning I’ve sold, over the long term, about 75 percent of the things I’ve written.

This doesn’t account for projects started and abandoned, but I’m not sure I could account for them, since I often jot down openings the way some folks jot down ideas, and it’s not really a project-in-progress until I go back to the opening and decide to pursue it, sometimes years later. I have dozens of started projects in my files; they’re more or less no different from the many idea cards I also have in my files.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *