Monday, May 10, 2010

Saying "No"

Nobody likes to hear "no." Yes, it's part of life. And yes, weathering rejection is part of being a writer, and yes, enduring the "no" is not unique to writers.

And actually, there is something worse than hearing "no": hearing...[cue cricket noises] nothing.

We all know the "reasons" why we hear nothing. The cost of doing business climbs. So publications, contests, and potential employers or customers view saying "no" as something they can cut out. It saves postage (although hello? email is free) and time (um, responses can be automated).

Plus, saying "yes" is fun. Saying "no" is difficult. Yes. Life is difficult.

In my writing world, "don't call us; we'll call you" is tolerable only when the publication (contest, employer, client) is upfront about it. And I still don't like it.

In any other circumstance, grow up. Behave like a professional person and say, "No." Or even, "No, but thank you for thinking of us, and best of luck elsewhere."

Because if you won't tell me "no," then I may say it to you. No, I will not submit, enter, or apply again. No, I will not buy a copy or subscribe. Not out of spite, but because an organization that can't say "no" isn't worth my time or money. It's not an organization I want to be associated with.

You know who's really good at saying "no"? Glimmer Train. Full disclosure: I have yet to hear anything other than "no" from Glimmer Train, but you can be sure I will keep trying.

You "if you hear nothing, assume no" and [cue crickets] types: you could do worse than behaving like Glimmer Train. They say "no" promptly, while expressing gratitude for being allowed to read submissions, and they're successful.

I wonder which came first: the "behaving professionally" part or the "success" part. (Okay, I don't really wonder.)