Home > Rejection, Writing > On writing: Cemetery Dance 2 : Dave 0

On writing: Cemetery Dance 2 : Dave 0

Just found out today that the story I submitted for an upcoming anthology (October Dreams 2) from Cemetery Dance was, to put it euphemistically, not accepted. On to the particulars. Turns out that around 200 people submitted stories. From those they decided to use 3. What is that? 1.5%? Guess I shouldn’t feel too bad for not making it into the top 98+% 🙂 On the plus side, the editor (Richard Chizmar) looking over the stories did say that around 10% of the stories were excellent and that they’d already decided to use several of the others for various publications. Who knows, maybe I’ll make it into one of those? Oh, and I should also note that he personally read through all the submissions (yeah, that’s right, 200 short stories!). How many times is that going to happen? I thought that was pretty cool, and I thought it was pretty awesome that he chose to request submissions like he did. I can only hope he chooses to do the same thing in the future.

The original request for submissions and subsequent notification of those selected has all been done via Facebook. A perk, I suppose, for being a friend (Facebook only) of the founder of Cemetery Dance publications 🙂 Now here’s the question: do you think it would be unreasonable, or bad form, to send a message to him to ask if my particular story made it into the top 10%, or even 3% (they considered 6 stories in the end)? I’m not really worried about whether it didn’t, but just curious about whether my story was decent, as in good enough that a writer/editor for one of the premiere horror/dark fiction publications thought my story was worthwhile. Yeah, I know, I suppose in the end it’s really just about me getting some validation and all that. But for some reason I’m really feeling the need to know something, anything, even if mine was in the “gee that wasn’t so great pile”. But, I also don’t want to come across as too amateurish (even though I am). Thoughts?

Well, now it’s on to the next big adventure(s). In the short-term, I think that might be, along with working on the stories already in progress, looking for other good horror/dark fiction publications that are accepting short stories. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

A final note: as fate would have it, just yesterday, I saw this blog post : How to take rejection.

Read through this short but helpful article. The last paragraph sums up the writing life.

Here’s the lesson to remember: far better writers than you have been rejected far more often. In success, you will be able to look back fondly at the people who’ve said no. But to get to that success, you’ve got to power through the failures.

Update: Thanks everyone for your responses and encouragement. After hearing what everyone had to say, and allowing some time to pass, I think I’ll most likely just let it go and concentrate on writing and finding other good publications that would consider my genre. When I jump into the submission arena again, I’ll be sure and give an update.


  1. July 18, 2014 at 5:56 am

    Sorry to hear about the story, but as you allude to, rejection is inevitable for every writer. We do indeed have to “power through the failures.” I like that line. 🙂

    • July 20, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Thanks, Carrie. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the more you go through them the easier they are to take. This one was nowhere near as disappointing as the first one, but it still sucks 🙂

  2. July 18, 2014 at 6:27 am

    I’m no expert in the publishing world (or in anything, for that matter… the word “expert” means “expert” not “knowledgeable dabbler”), but I’d let it go. If the guy read 200 stories, he’s not going to remember your specific story, and you can’t expect him to go back and check for you.

    You’d be better off submitting it somewhere else. Harry Potter was rejected tons of times, but that doesn’t mean the eventual publisher had low standards and was willing to take some piece of junk no one esle wanted. It just has to click for that publication, that editor, etc.

  3. July 18, 2014 at 7:16 am

    As I’m learning through my internship, rejection from an editor/agent/journal’s view is nuanced and many-faceted. You can be a fantastic writer and be rejected for a variety of other reasons. And you will usually never know which it is.

    I agree that you should try submitting the story to other anthologies/journals. You never know – what doesn’t work for this one may be just what someone else is looking for.

    Good luck!

    • July 20, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Hi Hannah – it’s that whole “will usually never know which it is” that’s particularly annoying. It would be nice to be able to grow from rejections in some other ways than developing a thick skin, although it is quite useful to have 🙂

      • July 20, 2014 at 5:22 pm

        Haha I know, you can look at it so many different ways, but ultimately it’s still a rejection. So yes, a thick skin is a useful thing 🙂 Just keep improving, submitting, improving, submitting. It happens eventually!

  4. July 19, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I second Eric’s suggestion to let it go. Odds are if there are stories the editor is holding on to for other publications, then he already let those authors know of his future interest (because he might not want them submitting elsewhere in the meantime). It’s a bummer, but…it’s best to just move on, as hard as that can be. And as Hannah said, even though your story was rejected, there are tons of factors that play into that decision. It doesn’t mean the story itself or the writing is bad! You just have to find the right market for it.

    • July 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      I hadn’t thought about that part, that he’s probably already contacted anyone else whose story he liked well enough to consider for a future publication. Good point. That deserves an, “Oh well.” Thanks for stopping by and comment, Nicole.

  5. July 19, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable. The worst that happens is that he either won’t answer, or he’ll say no. In my opinion, one of the worst mistakes we make is not to ask questions when we should.

    • July 20, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      I’m still considering doing this, but it’s been long enough that it might no longer be reasonable that he remembers any of the submissions besides that final six. Thanks for commenting, Jeff.

  6. July 20, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    You probably have this link but here it is anyway: http://www.newpages.com/classifieds/calls/

    When I submit a short story I do my research and try to only submit to magazines that publish my kind of writing. Hopefully you can find outlets for your genre of stories.

    • July 27, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      No, I don’t have this link, Donald. Thanks for passing it along and for reading the post and commenting. I’ll check it out. Cemetery Dance publications does publish my kind of stories, but they are definitely top tier. I think I need to look at publications a little less difficult to get into so that I can work my way up (hopefully).

  7. July 25, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Hi Dave- sorry for the absence! I have been reading your posts on my phone and keeping up with your enfolding writer’s journey. For all the headache and heartache of rejection, there’s still that thrill when you’ve submitted a piece to an agent or editor. That magical time when you can let your imagination wander to all the success you will achieve… It’s worth it, right? That’s why we write. That’s why we submit our work. You’ll make it one of these days. Keep on trucking!

    • July 27, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      It is worth it, Sue. Absolutely. Nothing quite like the high of submitting a story and waiting to hear back, the whole time thinking about how this one story might be good enough to be accepted. While this one wasn’t accepted, I still feel good about being rejected by one of the best.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Sue. Really, really appreciate it. Hope things are well for you these days … looking forward to your next post to see what you’re up to these days.

  8. July 27, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Dave, thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts on rejection. Although rejection is never fun, you have the right attitude in considering the odds of being accepted and knowing when to just move on. Have you tried Duotrope for finding places to submit? I subscribed with the service years ago when it was still free. I see that now they charge $5/month which is not bad at all. I plan on subscribing since it also helps in tracking submissions and these days I need all the help I can get in be(com)ing organized 😉

    • July 27, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Marie … so nice to hear from you. No, I’ve not heard of Duotrope. Thanks for passing that along. I’ll definitely check it out. Anything that can make submitting stories easier and, hopefully, more successful is a win in my book. Hope all is well with you these days …

      • July 27, 2014 at 7:44 pm

        I’m muddling along :). Still trying to figure out what to do with my blog …

  9. kirbyp
    August 20, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Sounds like you handled it very graciously Dave!

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