Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Rejection Can be Better Than Acceptance

by Sherry Perkins

Have you ever entered a writing contest only to never hear from them again? Most of the time, well all of the time, I keep my eyes open trying to pick out the frauds. Perhaps I think too big in this regard, because I feel like I have stumbled head first into the “sucker” abyss with my eyes wide open all the way to the bottom.

In the summer of 2010 I submitted a piece to what I thought was a reputable competition; it was for an anthology. The sponsor had a website, a blog, an award-winning book, and taught at a university. She had even published other anthologies. I felt good about submitting for free and I had heard about the opportunity at my writers’ group. Plus, I had never had a bad experience, except for the rejection letters we all get. Those are good experiences if you think about it.

I came up with a submission, worked on it, edited it, made sure it was within the word count, and sent it by the deadline. Then, I received an acceptance letter. Yes, my piece was accepted for inclusion! The prize for acceptance was copies of the anthology.  A follow-up email to me said something like, “...looking forward to working with you in the editing process.” I was on Cloud 9 for days, weeks. Sadly, this is where the story ends.

What was to be published by Christmas 2010 is still not published. I’ve send emails and posted on her Facebook page all with no response. Stupidly, I never got a contact number. At first, after a few months of no replies, all I wanted to know was the status of the publication. Now, I want to withdraw my piece so it can find a home elsewhere. I am beyond disappointed and passed being mad a long time ago, but what am I to do? Is there a statute of limitations on what someone promises versus what they deliver? I don’t know. I’m no literary attorney. Are any of you by chance?

The point is although we are careful where we submit, these situations are bound to happen. Do I feel cheated? Yes. Do I feel like I’ve wasted a year and a half waiting patiently on a piece to get published, only to realize I’ve been duped? Yes. Has this ever happened to me? No! Although I don’t have children, this experience makes me feel like one of my fictional kids has disappeared and I don’t know where he is. So, please be cautious of your submissions.

We writers work hard on every word. We constantly edit. We’re open for suggestions to make ourselves better writers. And when we do submit, no one should ever just leave us hanging. At least have the courtesy to say, “No thanks.” For the first time, I would’ve been happier with a rejection letter.

P.S. Here’s a follow up:
Just a few weeks ago I finally heard from the sponsor. Was this coincidence since I was preparing this piece for the Suite T blog? You got me. Naturally, she apologized for not getting back to me and agreed I should submit my story elsewhere. She said she did not receive enough good submissions for the anthology and got busy with other things. However, mine stood out and was well written. (At least that’s what she said.) I accepted her explanation and chalked it up to experience. We ended the back and forth emails on good terms.


Sherry Perkins is president of Bayou Writers’ Group of Lake Charles, Louisiana,  and has had several articles and photographs published. She resides in DeRidder, Louisiana, with her husband, stepdaughter, two cats, a fish, and a ball python named Richard Pryor.  Visit Sherry at

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