Mazel Tov! Your story, essay, poem, one-act, or what-have-you has been accepted for publication. Your world has been transformed. You will become rich and famous. You can quit your day job, ditch your good-for-nothing boyfriend, and eat bonbons to your heart’s content. Likely, however, the above is bad advice since it is highly probable that getting your work broadcast will change little or nothing in your life.
Hardly ever does limited publication convert an emerging writer into a household name. What’s more, getting dozens of small pieces published, or getting even a single major piece, i.e. a book, published, most often fails to make an aspiring author into an established one. Whereas it is accurate that issues of publicity, popularity, and dumb luck impact celebrity, it is also the case that the plethora of available reading materials makes getting and staying noticed, as a skilled user of words, very difficult.
Consequently, it’s of small utility for entire classes of wordies to welcome birdsong without censor, to apply conventional pedagogical wisdom to half-baked fabrications, or to proffer, on social media, multiple pages pointing to their Goodreads or Amazon listings. Beyond the Kingdom of Self- Publishing, where anything goes as long as denizens are willing to pay the required dollars, euros, or yen to have some offsite computer spit out their texts, and beyond the flashes of recognition that those denizens gather from various compensation-free, print or electronic periodicals, in which their writing appeared, was serialized, or, in the least, was referred to in their brief author biography, there exist so many blips on the literary radar as to render almost all deviations from, or adherence to, general literary trends meaningless. That is, typically, it’s of little existential consequence to get writing published.
In reverse, any “oeuvre” that a publisher has agreed to take on ought to be celebrated no matter the producer’s status, industry longevity, or ability to pay a (token) fee for its use. Whether an accepted selection is a wordsmith’s first or one thousandth, each and every positive response that he or she obtains is at least personally significant. Accordingly, people of letters are supposed to be gracious, if not excited, about each and every acceptance letters. Consider that each and every time a verbal conglomeration is awarded a home, a writer succeeds.
Into the bargain, builders of verbal assemblages should learn to wait for correspondence from publishers. It seems that the cultivation of patience is a lost expertise. Few individuals find it convenient to hang around, on average, for a year for follow-ups to book-length manuscript, for six months for follow-ups for “partials,” namely, for portions of book-length manuscripts, or for two months for follow-ups for short creations. To boot, most prospective writers hate that query letters (for books), themselves, regularly engender no response. Be that as it may, waiting is part of writing.
Sure, if a source of materials is known to an agent/press/periodical, he or she can take advantage of “backdoor privileges.” Said differently, scribblers, who are unknown to the gatekeepers to whom they have tendered their designs, have to wait for shorter spans than do “unknowns.” Simply, people who compose with language, irrespective of the quality or quantity of their past publications, are well-served not to complain about any delays. Those hours that they spend kvetching could be used, instead, for engaging in rewrites.
Fundamentally, before presenting handiwork, it’s a good idea for word architects to read the small print on their intended venues’ submission pages. “Industry standard” is as nothing to editorial offices that are sufficiently prestigious, busy, or understaffed or who are put off by grandiose wannabes.
Additionally, littérateurs need to take into account that they might get back not acceptance letters, but rejections or requests for rewrites. The former over and again make it to writers’ addresses long before acceptance letters do since invitations to be published usually move among levels of editors (or at least among levels of a singular editor’s slush piles) prior to being finalized. Requests for rewrites, moreover, while not outright acceptance letters, are at least as precious as are acceptances. Rewrite requests constitute fresh opportunities for writers to amend faults in products of theirs of indeterminate worth.
Plus, requests for rewrites are rarer than are either rejections or acceptances. They’re also more valuable. It’s uncommon for a commissioner to make time to explain why a document was rejected or accepted. Contrariwise, if a rewrite is requested, a publisher is giving a writer free insights. More exactly, they’re choosing to use their limited resources to help a writer better understand which facets of his or her exertions can and ought to be improved. Even with beta readers, hired proofreaders, and what-have-you, writers can do little better than to receive editors’ or publishers’ remarks.
Additionally, when an editor or publisher sets aside time to send specific comments, that official is voting with their feet, per se, as to their expectations of a writer’s pages. Gatekeepers won’t waste time on people’s commodities if those commodities are of no use to them. Receiving requests for rewrites, in some ways, is like being temporarily given the undreamed-of guidance of a professional mentor.
Irrespective of whether a press’ response to a piece is a rejection, an acceptance, or a request for a rewrite, it’s useful to interpret such communications through the lens of intertextuality. To be more precise, the connection among extended assemblages of viewpoints, viz., among congregations of knowledge, is derived from the sizeable number of experiential referents found in interlocking content. It’s no secret that publishers seek profits, either outright from their offerings, or from links to those offerings, above and beyond their seeking literary soundness.
In the publishing industry,
[a]s in any profession, there are topics the members do not openly discuss with the world. Writing is no different. For instance: [h]ow the writer published[, h]ow much money it cost[, h]ow many books they sold[, h]ow much money they made[, and h]ow much money they invested into promotion (versus what they got out of it) [are typically treated with silence]. Instead, a writer talks about: [w]hat they've read lately[, t]he fun experiences of writing[, o]vercoming a strange obstacle [, n]ew story ideas[, and c]areer goals.1
Excluding wordies who esteem fortune over excellence, few writers maintain that they’re participating in a domain in which their works’ value might get discounted in favor of something less treasured, but more salable. Basically, writing is rejected not only if it is of poor quality but also if it is less fiduciarily sexy that something else submitted.
All told, acceptance letters are wonderful to behold. While not as helpful as requests for rewrites and while they’re no guarantor of future prospects, let alone of career advancement, they do gladden writers in a profession largely devoid of heartening moments. Like butterflies, acceptance letters should be enjoyed for the beauty that they bring to a given moment. Correspondingly, like fleeting winged lovelies, acceptance letters ought not to be expected to endure winters yet to come.
1. Hope Clark. “What Writers Don’t Like to Talk about with the Public.” FundsforWriters. 18 Aug. 2017. http://archive.aweber.com/fundsforwriters/P2fce/h/FundsforWriters_August.htm. Retrieved 20 Aug. 2017.