On Having Pride

So, there’s this story I wrote a while back — a really fun one, I think, which got some very kind rejections but not yet a home.

And there’s a market, with a respected name and a long history, and maybe some recent troubles. This market looked like a good fit for this story. So I submitted back in May, and kept checking Duotrope to see whether they were responding.

And then that market did a bad thing. After much cursing and wailing and gnashing of teeth, I decided that as much as I had wanted to make that sale before, I would be ashamed to see my work appearing in that context. I could not tell my friends to go buy a copy of the magazine with my story in it. So I withdrew that story from that market. I’m not saying it’s the only right answer, and I will not judge the other stories that appear in that issue/magazine one way or the other.

So, why is this routine business decision the subject of a blog post? Because a number of new writers feel like they don’t have the power to do this; that if you’re not yet a big name that any publication is good for you. It’s the kind of thinking that gets writers to accept very little money for very good stories. Now, I have accepted small checks for stories I liked, but only in cases where I was proud to see my stories at those markets. I probably will never be rich and famous, but my good name is still a valuable commodity. And, fellow young writer, so is yours. Again: I’m not judging anyone who wants to submit and sell to that market, mind you, but I do urge people to remember that a sale is not always better than no sale when it comes to your reputation. It is better sometimes to remain unknown than to become known for the wrong thing.


While talking to a couple other writers, it came out that some people don’t know how to write a withdrawal letter. Here is mine, feel free to copy and alter it.

Dear Editors,

I am writing to withdraw my story “TITLE” (Submitted DATE) from consideration at YOUR MAGAZINE. I apologize if this causes any inconvenience for you.

Thank you,

John Murphy

The “DATE” is useful to help them quickly identify the story in question. Remember: your goal here is to be professional, not to teach them a lesson. In this case, the sheer volume should serve in that capacity…]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.