There are several reasons why it’s good to keep submitting short fiction to markets. For one, if you don’t submit, you can’t get accepted. Also, when your stories are out, it forces you to work on something new. This keeps you working on new projects, and it keeps you in the mode of writing.
But submitting your work has another added benefit which hadn’t occurred to me until I had plenty of work out there–you get free feedback.
When your work is rejected you will get one of two things: a form rejection, or a rejection with a note from the editor. The form rejections will not provide you with a whole lot of insight, other than just saying the story wasn’t a good fit for their publication. A note from the editor, or even a reader, however, will give you at least some insight.
Rejections with comments come in all sorts of forms. You may receive anything from a sentence about your story, to a whole letter with several paragraphs. Since readers and editors are busy, you’d be lucky if you got a full letter detailing different elements of your story. But even a sentence or two can provide you with valuable insight.
What’s valuable is that these aren’t comments from any reader, but from people who see an abundance of stories on a daily basis. These comments are coming from a location of wisdom.
You might completely disagree with a certain comment, but you should wait a day or two for the initial sting of the rejection to go away and reconsider it. You don’t even have to make changes to your story based on the comments, unless something is glaring and requires immediate attention.
For me, some of these comments are in the back of my head when I’m writing something new. And they’re invaluable.