If you don’t submit, you can’t be rejected. But you can’t get published either.
Rejection is nasty – no matter how much you’re used to it and no matter how much success you’ve had elsewhere, including in being published.
One writer I know talks about “rewrites” rather than “rejections”. This has two advantages: every piece you send out is new and you can feel better about your “rejection”. It makes sense on another level as well. Surely we all improve as writers all the time. As it often takes at least three months for publishers to decide, I frequently get work back and am not so surprised that it has been rejected. I always know I can do better. I’ve also noticed recently that my newest work is getting accepted almost at once whereas older work is taking longer. Should I be excited?
Another writer once said “You should be like those fishermen at the end of the pier. Have about six lines cast and one of them eventually will get a bite.” Another part of his strategy is to submit to three agents and three publishers then as rejections come in he sends the script out to three more agents or three more publishers. Obviously after a while one would run out of time. However he spends a certain amount of time day on this, keeping everything on a spread sheet, the newest items at the top. He makes a living as writer from a lot of small successes.
I too keep a spread sheet. I colour the cells red to show that submissions are out with a publisher or agent or submitted for a competition and are not available to send anywhere else. Amber means they are available and green means they’ve been accepted. Recently I’ve been submitting to up to three competitions then to three agents and then three publishers though I don’t bother with agents for short stories. I’m still doing that for stage scripts but for my fiction I’m now publishing through my own publishing imprints.
There is also post-publication submission. I’m now proactively submitting my own work and the works of writers I publish for awards.
Of course you must check that your submission fits the imprint or competition. Do take advantage of the Opportunities page here to look for what would suit your work.
And do develop your submissions strategy.