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  • Writer's pictureFrederick Gero Heimbach

31 Rejections

White Cat has published my story "Roommates". This is pretty amazing, and not just because I sold a story. Just why it's amazing is ... quite a story in itself.

Of all the stories I have written, "Roommates" might be my favorite. Yet I've always known it would be a hard sell. And it was a hard sell, believe me. It was rejected 31 times.

Thirty. One. Times.

Here's why it's a hard sell:

  • It's a genre-blender of horror and humor. That's not the most obvious combination. There are markets that like that combination, but not many.

  • The story is written in the second-person present. Some people consider that pretentious. Maybe the nicer word is experimental, but still, some editors won't even look at such a thing. Now, I'm using second person in this case for a particular effect. Specifically, what you get with this story is one-half of a conversation. It's a like overhearing someone on the phone, although there's no phone involved. The effect is to put the reader very much inside the narrator's head. It's ... not a comfortable place to be, let's just say. Again, this is all deliberate, all necessary to achieve the desired effect. If you don't believe me, just go read the story! It's super-short; you'll be done in five minutes.

  • The point of the story depends on the reader knowing about a certain literary ... thing. I can't say more without spoiling it. It's true the "thing" is famous, know even to people who aren't literary types. Still, lots of people might need their memories nudged in order to get what is, honestly, a punch-line of an ending.

So, yeah, I wasn't surprised when editors balked at this story.

And boy, did they balk. They turned it down, over and over. Over the course of 7.5 years I've been submitting this story. Did I mention the 31 rejections? Oy.

That might be a personal record. It's definitely a personal record for a story eventually accepted.

Now, I'm constantly revising as I resubmit. Often an accepted story is significantly changed from the version submitted the first time. Editors' feedback is extremely helpful in this regard. Kudos to all editors who give feedback! I've been there as an editor, though, so I know you can't always do it. But anyway, most of my stories evolve over their submission history.

But "Roommates" has been stable for literally dozens of submissions over several years. That's why I'm so pleased the people at White Cat were willing to accept it. Go read it now! Reward that good behavior by visiting their website.

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