I hear it all the time.
A writer gets a few rejections and they take it personally and many quit trying to write. Others quit submitting and decide to go the self-publishing route. I have nothing against self-publishing, I’ve done some of it myself, but if it is done it should be a business decision weighing the pros and cons and never just as a knee-jerk reaction to getting a few rejections.
A few rejections are part of the business of being a writer. Our work may only fit at one place in the entire publishing industry at any given point in time. A short time later it may still only fit at one place but now it is a different place. It is all about getting a submission in front of the right person, at the right place, at exactly the precise time it is needed.
By definition that means many are being sent to a person or place that is not looking for what we are offering. And timing is critical. It can be too early, too late, just did one like it, don’t have an open catalog slot for it right now, any of these means it is not a fit at this time. It also means knocking on a lot of doors before we find a place where all of the pieces are in place.
If we knock on the door and the pieces are NOT in place they are going to tell us it isn’t a fit right now. There is absolutely nothing personal about that, just telling us whether they have a place for it or not. It can’t be personal, after all, as they probably don’t know us well enough for that. It’s probably not even about the writing, but about the fit for their market.
Actually, to the degree that it MIGHT be personal is a great thing even if it is a no. Not often do editors take the time to point out why they didn’t connect with a work or what might could be done about it. Such input is very valuable and should be strongly considered. Not that we should greatly change a project on the basis on the opinion of one editor, not unless we really see the merit in what they are saying and agree with it. But it should be given great credence and strongly considered. And if similar advice is given from more than one source it definitely should be addressed.
But most of the time it is not personal, the person responding is just telling us that it does not meet that elusive person, place or time. At least not now.