The Power of No

Silence is golden, even if you don’t agree with it.


It has been a long time since I received a rejection letter. As a teenager, I wrote articles and sent them off to publications such as Seventeen without so much as consulting their submission requirements. With just hope and joy and a love of writing, I pursued submissions half-assedly. Ahhhh, adolescence!

Today, more than 20 years later, sending submissions is a very serious business to me. Having been a copywriter and magazine editor, I learned that it makes a difference how you approach your audience, whether that means a demographic or the lofty one behind the desk of some magazine (Ha! As if being an editor is lofty!).

Some of the writers who approached me with articles were very professional and had obviously taken the time to read our submission requirements. Others seemed to have an automatic “here’s my article of the month” that was sent without regard to the magazine’s needs. And still, oh lordy, there were those who wrote bad and submitted their articles even worse. In fact, at one time there was this pushy lady who went out and wrote a story and insisted that our publication had agreed to buy it (this was before I was the editor). I couldn’t find her contract, but noticed that she had worked with other editors in our group, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Big mistake! Miss Pushy not only plied me with a less-than-stellar article, she showed utter lack of professionalism by asking for much more money than our pub typically paid for articles. When it came time to tell her “no” she threw a hissy fit.


So naturally, when I started submitting my own manuscript to agents for consideration, I went about it as professionally as possible. My eyes turned red from reading so many submission requirements. Pressing SEND on the computer left my finger in pain. But it was worth it, because after 10 queries sent (mind you, more have been sent since then) I received a request for a full, and two for partials. And then the “no” word came rolling in as well. Some agents threw it out quickly, and I was grateful. Others have yet to respond… if they ever will. Silence means no, but it is also golden (or so my mom always said).

I personally understand how busy publishing is, and am glad to have received responses from some of the folks I queried – good and bad. Really, though, there is nothing bad about this process… unless you’re one of those people who throws a hissy fit because of your bad submission.

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