By Jennifer Oradat of Mom Babble
Rejection happens to us all, unfortunately, and it happens a lot if you’re a writer.
You pour your blood, sweat, and tears into writing something that makes you proud. Your heart pounds in your chest as you hit “submit”. You spend the next two weeks checking your email obsessively, hating yourself for every single newsletter you signed up for to get the extra 20% off of your first purchase, because now they send you 10 emails every day and you always think it’s going to be a response from the website but IT’S NEVER THEM.
Until, magically, one day it is. Only things don’t turn out the way you’d hoped and rejection rears its ugly head. You don’t understand it. You know your story is compelling, so what went wrong?
Of course, editors have to turn down quality submissions for plenty of reasons, but there are a few common mistakes that writers make that get their submissions sent straight to the discard pile.
[bctt tweet=”Common mistakes writers make that send submissions straight to the discard pile”]
1. You didn’t research the site before you submitted. This one is a biggie, and it’s something that we’re all guilty of doing. Before you submit, check out their page. Read their publications. Look for submissions criteria. Do they have a length suggestion? A swearing policy? Do they offer general guidelines as to the type of posts the want, or those they will automatically decline? What types of pieces do they post on a regular basis, and where does yours fit in that scheme? Knowing the answers to all of these before you submit could save you some heartache, and quite a bit of waiting.
2. You don’t have a point. Does your piece have a purpose, or did you just want to share something funny/sad/sweet that happened? There is a huge difference in being a personal blogger whose main objective is to connect with family and friends, and being a writer who wants to reach a larger audience. Consider the purpose and intent of your writing before submitting. Why did you write this? If an editor doesn’t feel like your piece has a point, he’s not likely to accept it.
3. You need more structure. Even the sweetest of stories can benefit from an outline. Connect your various trains of thought with reasonable segues to make your work seem well-planned. You’ll also want to make sure that every sentence (and paragraph!) contributes to the overall purpose of your piece, and is placed logically within the outline.
4. You have comma splices, too many exclamation points, or other punctuation foibles. Comma splices, can make a sentence, feel like you’re, in the car, with a teen who’s learning to drive, getting thrown, around every time, he confuses the brake, and the accelerator. Exclamation points after too many sentences make it feel it feel like you’re reading the transcript of a cheerleading practice!!! Because proofreading multiple submissions is time-consuming and expensive, a submission with glaring grammatical errors (like those) risks being rejected outright, despite the quality of the content.
5. You use a lot of adverbs. The hallmark of an amateur writer is one who uses copious adverbs; the hallmark of a seasoned writer is one who uses a thesaurus.
[bctt tweet=”Want to know the REAL reasons editors tell you your writing isn’t a good fit?”]
6. You repeat yourself. It is the goal of every writer to ensure that the reader understands, and the temptation is to repeat yourself as often as necessary to make that happen. When an editor reads several sentences in a row that re-state the same information, her eyes will glaze over and your submission gets sent to the rejection pile. Here’s the general rule: if you need to say it again, you didn’t say it efficiently the first time.
7. You don’t have a solid conclusion. The conclusion of your piece can serve a lot of purposes: connecting all the dots, resolving conflicts, reinforcing your argument. Without it, the reader is left feeling unsatisfied and adrift. Don’t forget: this isn’t network television. No one likes a cliffhanger.
If your work is declined on a regular basis but you can’t seem to figure out why, chances are good that you’re a habitual offender of one of the items on this list. Keep all of this in mind and put a critical eye to your next submission—before you send it out—and increase your odds of receiving an acceptance!
Jennifer is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief at Mom Babble. She’s also a stay-at-home mom, military wife, fount of useless knowledge. Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, What the Flicka?, and more! You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.