I have been writing for about four months now (since about May of 2010).
In that time I have submitted nine short stories to various magazines with each story averaging about 4000 words. Of those, I have received back three rejections.
The highlight was when I received a rejection slip from ANALOG magazine. At the bottom of the page there was a handwritten note signed with the initials “S.S.”
Being an avid reader of ANALOG, I of course knew that the note was from Stanley Schmidt, editor of the magazine since 1978. The head cheese himself. To fill you in, this is a man who had taken the torch from the great Ben Bova. And this is the magazine that published such literary giants as Arthur C. Clark, Issac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury and one of my favorite authors Orson Scott Card.
I shuddered with excitement. Sure it was a rejection, but Stanley Schmidt had taken the time to write a note to ME about MY story. I was certain it would be something to the tune of “I really liked this, trying changing “X” and send it to me again.” or “Develop the main character a bit more and I think you really have something here.”
Instead it read:
“Always number your pages! S.S.”
It said exactly that and only that. And yes, even with that angry exclamation mark on the end.
If I had made an impression on the Editor, it was to show him what novice I am by not numbering my pages.
And that little exclamation mark told me it had also pissed him off.
I could only imagine how many manuscripts this man must read through each month, religiously searching for that needle in the haystack, that one gem of a story that speaks to him like God to Moses, and how my story was just another turd for him to trip over on his quest for yet another Holy Grail of Science Fiction.
Well Stanley, I am sorry about that.
So while my future will undoubtedly hold a few more rejection slips, I am hoping to avoid the dreaded exclamation mark.