Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rejection at the Speed of Light

The Cowboy Junkies have a wonderful song (“Sun Comes up, It’s Tuesday Morning”) about waking up in the morning and hearing the telephone ring. The singer doesn’t answer it, though, because, as she says, “Everybody knows that good news always sleeps till noon.”

And that may be true. All I know is that rejection sure seems to be up and at ‘em early these days.

It used to be that newspaper editors liked submissions via snail mail. It would take days for my article to get to their office, days or weeks for the editor to actually open the envelope, and the rejection, if one ever came, could easily come months later. (I once got a manuscript sent back to me nine months after I’d sent it to a certain San Francisco-based publication. Hint: not the Examiner.)

Now more and more editors are accepting e-mail submissions, which turns out to be a double-edged sword. The good thing about that is that I save tons of money on stamps, envelopes, and ink cartridges.

The bad thing is that the rejection is almost instantaneous. Overnight, in some cases. For example, I spammed a Mongolia overview article to 17 papers two weeks ago. The Kansas City Star gently but firmly rejected it the next morning. The Chicago tribune dinged it within a week. One submission bounced back (did the Atlanta paper get rid of their travel section?), and one of my emails drew an immediate auto response saying the editor was out on leave and that all her email was being deleted in her absence. It’s….what’s the opposite of instant gratification? When there’s no delay between an action and getting slapped upside the head for it? Do we have a word for this in our language?

We will soon.

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