When one can't talk about sales (because there aren't any), there's always that faithful fallback of going on about one's rejections. I know - boring, boring, boring, - but, alas, they are a regular feature in a writerly life and must be dealt with on an ongoing basis, usually when you've had a crap day and are least up for it.
And I'm only bringing them up again because I've had a few this week that were wonderfully kind and supportive knockbacks of the 'loved your work but...' kind , which include breakdowns of what was so great about the story that wasn't purchased *sigh*, and of the 'if I'd had more room in this antho you'd have definitely been included' types, along with counsel to send one piece to other publications that might be more up for its 'structural challenge', and exhortations to 'keep writing!' and 'send more!' Lovely stuff.
In each case, I've wanted to email back to the editor just how much I appreciate their personal comments and encouragement, but of course, that's deemed unprofessional. Yet such kindness from a stranger can make a real difference, and help you to decide whether to give up on a particular story and bin it or send it out again, and possibly whether or not you give up the whole ridiculous writing gig and devote your life to helping war orphans or making real money.
I've been thinking a lot about the ability to weather the ups and downs of rejections lately because of this great post Steve Cameron put on his blog last week about a writer who stopped subbing stories back in 1991 because he didn't think he was getting anywhere, when in fact, behind the scenes, editors and agents had noticed his work and earmarked him for great things. I can't even begin to imagine how that writer felt when he discovered the truth. Anyway, Steve concludes that nicer, more constructive rejections might have made a difference, and I heartily agree. In lieu of a sale, a pat on the head is the next best thing. If that makes me sound pathetic, then so be it - I'll take what crumbs I can get.
Editors are busy people, I get that, which makes it all the more wondeful when they do take the time to treat you like a real person. As said, there are times when I wish that I could respond when editors take the time to say good things and let me know whether I'm in with a chance, and tell them THANK YOU!