Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Turning rejection into acceptance

I had a couple of articles rejected recently. That hasn't happened in a long while, and frankly, I wasn't very impressed because it took the editor 7 months to let me know, and the reason for one of them, was simply that he'd totally changed his mind about the brief. He wanted something completely different. Was a kill fee available? No. But if I wanted rewrite them both, taking into account his extensive criticisms, then he'd reconsider his position.

Now I have to admit, I was fed up. I mean, he might have mentioned that there was a problem after I submitted the first article back in September. I'd have thought twice about offering him the second! So I pondered the opportunity to 'rewrite them both' while I got on with some guaranteed paid work. A few weeks later, I decided to have another go at these two articles.

I trawled through the demoralising emails, taking in the criticisms, and then looked for the positives - what could I do to salvage the situation? I asked more questions of my interviewees, but the answers weren't what the editor wanted to hear. No, they're not filthy rich. No, they're not famous. No, they haven't become a publishing sensation from contributing to an anthology. But it wasn't supposed to be about that. It was about personal satisfaction, raising money for charity, achieving personal goals, etc.

Anyway, I know this all sounds like a dead loss, but a couple of days ago, I got an acceptance! Somehow, by rejigging the content, bringing something from the back to the front, adding a few more comments from my own personal experience, and answering some of the questions, it worked. I honestly didn't think that article would be accepted but it just was!

The second article was more of an extensive rewrite due to the dramatically different brief, but I had a go at that one too, and remarkably, a week or so later, it was accepted too!

Now, usually if an editor has their own ideas about how an article will take shape, I get a clear brief at the point of commission. Otherwise I just make sure I cover everything that I've suggested in my pitch. It can be a different ball game if you submit work 'on spec', but I work to commission most of the time.

So do remember that however bleak things may appear, if an editor thinks your work has potential, it's probably worth putting in that extra work, because you never quite know when you can turn a rejection into an acceptance. You might surprise yourself.

Good luck!