S.G. Browne

The Writing Life: Tales of Rejection

Back in the early 1990’s I was a fledgling horror writer, penning supernatural horror stories about alternate realities and Nintendo gods and things that go bump in the night and sending them off to magazines with names like Deathrealm and Pulphouse and Haunts, among others.  Lots of others.

Naturally, I felt my stories were worth being published, otherwise I wouldn’t have sent them out. To be honest, looking back on those first stories, they weren’t particularly good.  I wouldn’t ever want to publish them in a collection as an example of my writing abilities.  More as an example of how you can eventually get from A to Z.

But in spite of my current perspective on my past writing, I did get published for the first time ever in a digest sized horror and dark fantasy magazine called Redcat Magazine in the Spring of 1994.

“Wish You Were Here” was a simple little tale about an airplane that crashes and the thrill-seeking passenger who is doomed to experience the last moments of his life over and over.  Just a month earlier the same story had been rejected by the editors at Deathrealm for being too sophomoric.  Which it probably was.  But Redcat loved it, bought it, and published it a few months later for $5 and a half dozen author copies.


At that time, I’d only been writing for a few years and I figured I’d get more short stories published and would find representation for my first novel that I’d just written and be on my way to publishing glory.  The fact that the next four stories I wrote got accepted for publication only added to my optimism.

Instead, those four short stories never saw print because the magazines that accepted them went out of business. After that, I hit a solid rejection streak that lasted five years until I published another short story.  And it would be another ten years after that until I published my first novel, Breathers, which was actually my fourth novel.

All in all, from 1992 to 2002, I submitted my short stories and my first three novels to more than five hundred magazines and agents and editors.  I eventually wound up with sixteen acceptances and ten short stories published, which comes to an acceptance rate of about 3%.  Which means I got rejected 97% of the time.

Try taking that success rate into a singles bar and see what that does for your self-esteem.

Filed under: The Writing Life — S.G. Browne @ 7:31 am


  1. I would like to read the first 3 novels.

    Comment by Helen — January 19, 2011 @ 8:13 am

  2. Haha! Sounds like my dumb life right now.

    Comment by angie sargenti — January 20, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

  3. “So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX5jNnDMfxA

    Comment by Gretchen — January 21, 2011 @ 11:31 am

  4. Without clicking on the YouTube link, I’m guessing that quote is from Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber.”

    Comment by admin — January 21, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  5. Yep.

    Comment by Gretchen — January 26, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

  6. […] My first published work was a short story titled “Wish You Were Here” about a plane crash and the thrill-seeking passenger who is doomed to repeat the last moments of his life over and over.  It was published in 1994 in a small magazine called Redcat that earned me my first $5 as a writer.  Considering that I wanted to make a career out of writing, this was an exciting moment for me and I thought that after just a few years of writing, I’d broken through and would have dozens of short stories and novels published soon.  It didn’t quite work out the way I thought.  I recently blogged about it on my website, in case you’re interested: http://sgbrowne.com/2011/01/the-writing-life-tales-of-rejection/ […]

    Pingback by Interview with author, S.G. Browne… | Doubleshot Reviews — February 14, 2011 @ 9:35 am

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