Well, after seven weeks and one day, the Asimov’s rejection letter
finally arrived yesterday. It’s odd. I expected to be far more
disappointed than I actually was. I guess having almost two months to
brace for the inevitable impact ensured it couldn’t have been as
crushing as I was anticipating.
The moment was pretty surreal, however. When you submit a story to Asimov’s,
you have to include a self-addressed stamped envelope back to yourself,
so the magazine doesn’t have to pay to send you their response. Since
my home printer always chokes on envelopes and labels, I hand-address
everything. So when I got home yesterday, there was a letter to myself
in my own handwriting peeking out from the top of my mailbox. It was a
very thin letter, which told me immediately there couldn’t possibly be
a one-time publication contract inside, just a form letter.
A rejection letter, to be precise. I go inside, kick off my shoes,
empty my pockets, and sit down on my couch (which is about all the
furniture in my living room, since we’re getting new carpet today). I
tear open the letter, and there it is, on photocopied Asimov’s letterhead. This message:
Thank you very much for letting us see the enclosed submission.
Unfortunately, it does not meet the needs of the magazine at this time.
Your submission was read by an editor, but the press of time and
manuscripts does not permit personal replies or criticism. For your
general information, though, most stories are rejected because they
lack a new idea or theme. A great many of the ideas that may seem
innovative to an SF newcomer are in fact overfamiliar to readers more
experienced in the field. The odds greatly favor this being the cause
of this rejection.
Yeah, it stings. The letter included the cover page and first page
of the story I sent in. Since I didn’t want to pay to have them mail
the story back to me (it’s not like I manually typed it), I had to
include–in big bold letters–the phrase “Manuscript Disposable” on the
cover page. Apparently, that was the most appropriate thing I wrote in
the whole exercise.
Back to the salt mines.