Way back in April I submitted a short story for consideration in an annually published anthology. Not only was editing down 18,000 words to 5,000 an exercise in both major and selective surgery, sending the story off was a huge risk. “What if I get told I’m not a good writer? Does that mean I have to stop?” and other pointless thoughts ran through my head as I dropped the envelope in the mail just in time to make the postmark deadline.
About a week after I sent off my little envelope I got a very nice acknowledgement e-mail. After that, I didn’t expect to get anything else. Truthfully, I didn’t expect to get selected for the anthology. And I didn’t. Around June 30th I got the following:
This email is to let you know that your story “In a Strange Land,” has not been chosen for Best Lesbian Erotica 2010.
Sometimes, a story can be worthy of publication and it doesn’t make the final roster for another reason: I might have received a large number of stories on a particular theme, or the work might be almost, but not quite there, and it needs another draft.
In other words, this is an “it’s not you, it’s me” email. And it’s no fun to get one of those, but don’t take it to heart (I know, it’s a rejection letter, and how can you not?) because the sheer number of manuscripts, as well as the quality and range of the work made it an extremely difficult, yet enjoyable task to winnow down the number to “Best Lesbian Erotica 2010.” Our judges commented on the quality of the work received, and spent considerable time choosing the final stories.
Submissions for BLE 2011 are open, and I hope to hear from you again.
As a “thank you” for your work and talent, Cleis Press would like to extend a 10% discount to you on copies of Best Lesbian Erotica 2010. [discount code info redacted; submit your own story and get rejected if you want a discount!]
I’ve enjoyed reading your work and wish you the best. Please keep writing.
Now, that last part about enjoying my work may be form letter bullshit but if it is, it’s certainly nice form letter bullshit.
I can’t decide if I want to try to submit this story to next year’s anthology, put it away, publish it on the fiction blog, or send it to another anthology’s open submission process. Whatever the case, I think this just proves that even a rejection can be encouraging.