Blog Post

From Rejection to Publication

Scrolling back through my old blog posts, I stop at one and check the date. 18th February, 2022. Just over a year ago, now. The post is called “Reigniting the Spark”, and it laments the fact that I have struggled with motivation to write, particularly since finishing The Suffering and entered into the query phase. I’d been submitting queries for months at that point, and was disheartened to say the least.

A snippet from “Reigniting the Spark”

Although I felt bad that I hadn’t been writing anything new, I rationalised that it could be the universe’s way of telling me not to flit from project to project the way I usually did. To really see out the process and focus on getting The Suffering to as many agents and publishers as possible. And, boy, was I trying! As most of you who have gone through the querying phase know, it’s a bleak process. You submit with high hopes, silencing the voice of doubt by convincing yourself that you “have a good feeling about this one!” only for the inevitable rejection to come back a few weeks later.

When Wicked House Publishing opened its doors last year, I was pretty much at the end of my rope with The Suffering. Perhaps it wasn’t as good as I hoped it was. In fact, perhaps it was terrible! A book that nobody would ever want, and—worse—that nobody would ever get to read. I felt as though I must have been completely deluded when I closed my laptop after the final edit and declared with confidence, “I think this is pretty good!”

I remember when I saw the call-out for Wicked House submissions. It was a Sunday, and I was in the middle of a regular bout of burnout that made me stop to consider whether I could be bothered heading to my laptop to make the query attempt. I was feeling quite down-and-out, and more than a little hopeless about the whole thing. But, something made me haul my ass off the couch and spend the afternoon at the kitchen table, preparing my query and making sure my synopsis and opening chapters were as good as they’d ever been. I hit the submit button. By that point, I was way past “I have a good feeling about this one!” and instead prepared myself for rejection.

But it never came. A full manuscript request was sent instead. And, a few months later, an offer of publication.

Now, just over a year from posting a disheartened blog about fighting for motivation, I’m holding The Suffering in my hands. It’s being read around the world, and many of the reviews have been more positive than I could have ever dreamed.

Thank you to my lovely Mum for the champagne in celebration!

It would have been so easy for me to give up on The Suffering after receiving months of rejections. It’s hard, and if you’re experiencing something similar with your manuscript at the moment, I feel for you and send you virtual hugs and strength. Self-belief can only be sustained so long when multiple professionals in the business are telling you they don’t want your book. But here’s the proof that it only takes that one lucky shot. Never stop fighting for it. Haul your ass off the couch and make that submission!

Because one day it will be for the last time. And for all the right reasons.


Almost, little story. Almost…

Years ago I wrote a short story that was completely removed from my preferred genres. It is called The Altruists, and is a dark dystopian tale about an innocent man who is imprisoned in a futuristic world where prisoners are used as automatic organ donors. I can’t remember if I wrote it for a particular submission call, it was that long ago. But it didn’t make the cut. And whenever I have tried to submit it since my efforts have been met with multiple short, stark, stock-rejection emails!

When I first started taking the plunge and submitting my writing, I was terribly embarrassed to receive a rejection. I can remember feeling a sensation of shame, and saying to myself, ‘Who do you think you are, of course it’s rubbish! Why did you even send it in the first place? Just delete it, it must be crap.’ I gave up on my stories at the first sign of a struggle. It was a reaction that was born of insecurity, and I am happy to report that over the years I have built better resilience to the process! If I hadn’t, I don’t believe I would still be writing now. Or perhaps I’d still be writing, but only for myself. A private little collection of lonely stories desperate to be shared.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a submission call for Apparition Literary Magazine, asking for stories on the theme of ‘Retribution’. I didn’t have the time to write something from scratch as the deadline was nearing, so I dug out The Altruists, tweaked a few of the clunkier sounding sentences, and sent it to them. Needless to say, I didn’t expect it to get anywhere. A few days later I received a lovely email from the team, asking if they could place my story on hold for the final publication. The rush of elation I felt was indescribable. It always feels amazing when a story is shown some interest, but for The Altruists, a story that has always been biting at the heels of its flashy horror-themed friends in my writing folder, I felt like a proud mum. Finally, here was proof that the story wasn’t completely dreadful!

Yesterday, I heard back from the editors, who explained that they only had four open slots and that The Altruists hadn’t quite made it to the final cut, but that it was one of the ten stories that were scrutinised by the editors for publication. Well, I will take that! Considering the fact that a few years ago I almost hit the delete key and erased it from the map completely, I take that as a solid victory.

I’ve talked before about how numerous factors can determine whether your story is picked. Even if it is rejected twenty times, it doesn’t mean that it is terrible. It just needs to be the right fit. There are so many boxes that a story must check in order to make the selection. Being a good story is just the tip of the iceberg! So, when stories are rejected, don’t ever think they are terrible and that you shouldn’t try again. The next place you send it to could very well become its ‘forever home’. And that really is the greatest feeling in the world.