Caitlin Kelly

Writer and Editor



    Selling the Story    
Take Good Care of Yourself
It Takes a Village
Someone's Life
Trust Your Gut!
Getting Fired
What It Takes
When the Going
Gets Tough
Intellectual Archeology
The Best Writing
is Rewriting
Use a Dictionary
Carefully Chosen Language
Running a Home-Based Business
Quality Control
Coming Up with Ideas
Selling the Story
Paying Attention
Play Dates
Getting It
  When you make your living as a writer, especially of poetry or fiction, but also of journalism, rejection is a fact of life. No matter how skilled, talented or hardworking you are, there are going to be days, maybe even weeks, when your terrific ideas fall flat one after another. Editors ignore your calls, email and letters. You start to wonder if it's you, the weather, the time of year.

As a savvy colleague says, rejection is to writers as blood is to a surgeon. Some days the floor is slippery with it. It's messy and ugly and you may not like it, but it's an inevitable part of the job.

How to handle it? Have a lot of ideas and a lot of places to sell each one. So that national women's magazine rejected your pitch -- maybe it will work for your local newspaper or regional weekly. Maybe it needs some more facts and figures or a compelling anecdote. A recent pitch of mine had made the rounds of one magazine, but editors decided that it needed to be part of a larger trend. Rejection? That's more of a request for refinement and amplification. The next move is now up to me.

Brainstorming with friends or colleagues can help you rethink and refine your ideas. I often test out ideas on a few people whose opinion I trust before I craft a query; their questions and responses help me anticipate issues I might have overlooked in my own enthusiasm to sell the story my way.

Don't forget that one editor's dog is another's delight. I recently sold a story to a national women's magazine in Canada that had been bought -- and killed -- by a national women's magazine in the U.S. An editor at a national financial magazine then said she was very interested, but when she saw the pitch, wasn't. I was feeling mighty discouraged, but knew this was a terrific and unusual story so I persisted. When I finally found that eager buyer, I had to cut the piece from 3500 to 2200 words and add a new sidebar.

But after all those rejections, the sale was even sweeter.