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CODE BLUE: Dealing With Rejections
by Deborah Clark
Rejections are a fact of a writer's life. They
are also an indication that my hard work and research missed the mark. There is
little more aggravating to me than receiving an envelope or postcard in my own
typeface. Nothing, that is, except a form letter or postcard with no indication
of which of my submissions the publication had declined. This is the one thing I
cannot make the publication change. I realized that some markets would send
their rejection forms, regardless of what I include. Not being one to sulk, at
least for too long, I created a simple code to help me track my submissions, and
the inevitable rejections.
The solution was easy once I had spent a few
months, and several false starts, perfecting it. I had been invoicing
publications with a double three-digit number, since I had started being paid.
It is an easy way to keep track for my own records, and the taxman. The first
series represented the publication; the second, the invoice number. For example,
WRITING FOR DOLLARS has a oo5-xxx code. It represents the fact that WFD
was my fifth paying market, since I had started the system. The xxx's would
represent the invoice number itself. The only departure from this occurred when
I was assigned a number by the publication itself. Then I used my system to
cross-reference the publication's number. So I decided to stay with what I
I coded the return envelope with a series of
letters and three digit numbers. The three-digit number reflected the number I
assign the publication. The letters represented the stage of inquiry of the
package I had sent. I put them on the inside flap of the SASE. I had tried
putting the code of the bottom from of the SASE, but personally didn't like the
look of it. Some publications prefer to use postcards, and I incorporated the
code onto the left-hand bottom corner of the return postcard. The letter codes
reflected what had been included: Q' for a query, F' for a follow-up, A' for
an article and C' for clips [tearsheets]. For example:
-QC' represented a query with clips, my usual
-A' represented a query with an article, if the
market or the editor requested it.
-FA' represented a follow-up with the article
If I included more than one of anything in the
package, the code reflected it; e.g. 'QCCC' would be a query with three
I also began to use color to denote the number
of times I had gone through that step with each particular editor. The first
time I contacted an editor, I would use blue; the second, red; the third, green
and so on.
The system may sound difficult, but it isn't
really. If an editor is interested in my first query, QCCC' [in blue], I send a
follow-up, FA', still coded in blue. So, FA' in green would been that I had
submitted a follow-up package for the third time. Hopefully the editor would
accept, or I would give up, before the 23rd time. That is all the colored
pencils I have. Luckily, my database accepts colored entries, so I can stay
coded and coordinated.
I have recently upgraded to a computer database.
It allows me to continue with my system. Having worked both ways, I can say that
as long as the system work for you, it is a good system. I use a pop-up
scheduling service to remind me of impending projects and follow-up notices. I
have found that contacting an editor is much easier now that the information is
displayed in front of me. I simply email or call with a little spiel that
includes all the pertinent information. It is quick, painless and
I add each market faithfully. Once an editor or
publication is entered, the system kicks in as I send the query out. It is
working so well, I may even have to add another digit.
© Copyright 1999, Deborah Clark
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