Red-Letter Day

Today’s a red-letter day because today I received my first rejection from a journal.

While that may not be something to celebrate – and no, it’s not like I’m breaking out the champagne over that – I think there’s something important about it. It’s my first journal article and my first rejection, and I figure that over the course of my career this will happen more than once. (Even though I’m sure we all dream of nice solid lines of acceptance letters, right?)

I’ve been “putting myself out there” since my first year of grad school, when I resolved to submit a proposal to at least one conference every year. That was pretty successful. By next June, I’ll have presented at 9 conferences in 6 years. I also had to decline another conference, but I’ve only been rejected from a conference once. I like that track record, and that was a good goal to have.

My next thing, of course, is publication. I submitted the article in question to – well, a very good magazine, but perhaps not the best venue for the piece. Not the wrong venue, necessarily, but maybe not the best fit. I have to admit that I’m highly impressed that they got the response back to me so quickly – a week and a half after I submitted it! (The flip side may be that they considered it soooo bad that they just had to get it out of there, but the feedback doesn’t suggest that.)

The email today listed six points that they saw as important to address. Some of them are minor, and certainly things I can do. And while I probably can’t classify this as a revise and resubmit (the email said that it didn’t really fit for them in its current state, or something along those lines), they did say that if I addressed those points and substantially revised the piece, they might have an interest in the future.

The six points they brought up were excellent ones. Again, one or two of them are “easy fixes”, and at this point, even the more major ones wouldn’t take much to think about. Overall, I thought the feedback was incredibly helpful for my thinking about this piece and how it all comes together.

Am I disappointed? Oh my gosh, yes. I can’t tell you how disappointing and crushing it was to receive this email – I knew it had to be a rejection given how quickly it was sent to me. But I also knew that could be the outcome, and I have to say that the feedback really softened the blow.

(Although I’ll be honest: getting rejection when you’re in the midst of revising your dissertation and starting to send out job applications is more than a little stressful. It makes it easy to question EVERYTHING I’m doing, although I’m trying to focus on what I’m doing right. Clearly, the editors think I have a fascinating topic and that there’s potential. I just need to follow through.)

What’s next? Revision, of course! I’m thinking that this Saturday would be the perfect day to start in on those changes so that I can either send it back or send it on to some place new.

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8 thoughts on “Red-Letter Day

    • I won’t lie: I *am* bummed, but I don’t want to get discouraged and not do anything about it. I think that would not bode well for the job search application season I’m beginning….

  1. But don’t send it back to them. They have told you with a quick rejection that they don’t want it. They were very generous by giving you some good comments ( the editors did their job), but I think there’s very little chance they would want to see it again anytime soon.

    • No, I probably won’t. The feedback indicated they found the piece very intriguing, and in my opinion, the points they made are revisions I can make without a lot of hassle. However, one key point stood out. It was something about the journal’s publication tendencies that I knew about, but had made the decision to submit anyway based on other information/history. I don’t think it’s an area I can really “correct” for them well enough to satisfy, simply because my evidence isn’t there. I have other places I’m looking now.

  2. I’m glad you’re taking the rejection in stride. In my experience, a rejection that accompanies insightful comments from readers is a good thing. If a reader didn’t think your work was serious, s/he wouldn’t have spent the time to help you strengthen it.

    I know acceptance letters will be landing in your inbox soon!

    • It still stings, but I figure if I can’t buck up and keep going, there’s no way I’ll survive the job application season! πŸ™‚

    • I’m also allowing the moments where I freak out and think there’s no way in the world anything I write will ever be good enough. πŸ™‚

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