The publication of this story—about a young woman struggling to get by in a world in which singing is illegal—in the March 1985 issue of Fantasy Book disabused me of one of the many false beliefs that writers can have. When I sold the same editor “Guinea Pigs” a few years earlier, I’d thought, Aha! I’ve got it now. I understand what the editor wants.
Wrong! “Guinea Pigs” was my 10th submission to Fantasy Book, and even though I thought I’d figured out the secret to the editor’s tastes, I had to be rejected nine more times before this story, my 20th submission, was accepted.
And even after this sale, I was rejected nine more times by Fantasy Book. I never got to learn whether history would repeat itself and my 30th submission would be accepted, because the magazine went out of business right after my 29th was rejected. But still, all of those submissions and rejections taught me a valuable lesson—that editors are only rejecting stories, not you.