"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, July 1, 2011

Not Just Another Form Rejection

It’s the first day of the month and I find myself reviewing my writing goals for June.

Submissions: 5
Rejections: 1
Acceptances: 0


As every writer knows, most companies use a standard rejection form. When they have no time or nothing positive to say, the letter basically reads, "Thanks, but this isn't for us."
Editor Jenna Glatzer once wrote she had a difficult decision to make. “Do I tell this writer WHY I'm rejecting the submission, or not? You may wonder why that's a tough decision.  But when we do have a free moment and would like to be honest with the writer, some of us bite our tongues anyway.  The reason?  Not all writers know what it means to be a professional.  And not all of them can take criticism.”
She went on to explain whenever she sends constructive criticism with a rejection, she knows there is about a 75% chance she’d hear nothing back (which was fine), a 5% chance she'd get a quick "thanks for your consideration anyway" (which was nice), and a 20% chance she'd get an argument (which was not fine). If you’d like to read more about her feelings on rejections, visit here.
I wanted to share with you the rejection I recently received. This is the second rejection letter I have received from this company. Only a portion of it appears to be a standard rejection form. Pay attention to the second sentence:

Sylvia,

Thank you for allowing us to consider your story,
Broken Angel. It's well done, and I enjoyed the outcome. However, it doesn’t look like a good fit for us. We’re going to pass on this and wish you luck in other markets.

Sylvia,

Thank you for allowing us to consider your story, Dream Life.
It's very sweet, sad, and affecting. However, it doesn't look like a good fit for us. We're going to pass and wish you luck in other markets for this one.

Just one sentence difference, but it means a lot to me. I was left with the feeling she actually spent time with my story, and not just passed it along with the masses.
Some rejections leave me with the feeling: “Oh, yes, you WILL publish something of mine one day” – it’s like a challenge. However, this one line difference left me feeling I had a chance to learn and strive for something WORTHY of their publication.
Yes, I sent her a thank you. Have you ever thanked an editor for their rejection?

12 comments:

Linny said...

Hey Sylvia, I just wanted to say this was a good post and I'm glad I read it. I'm no where near sending ANYTHING to anybody, but when I do, I will remember this post. As a matter of courtesy on various matters, I often send thank-you letters if I know someone took time out of their day on my behalf. To me, a manuscript rejection is no different from a job interview. You don’t start arguing with the employer when you find out you didn’t get the position. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that in the publishing industry you should always avoid making a bad impression as the difficult author. The example was when the writer was rejected by an Editor and he disagreed with the feedback. But he didn’t argue about it and was gracious. Which was just as well since, later on he had an agent submit the same work and it was accepted by the same Editor. Hope you get your acceptance soon.

Lorelei said...

Sylvia, nope. I've never sent a thank you for being rejected. Nearly all were form rejections, or there was nothing in them that made me hopeful.

I attempted to place my vampire novel with a agents about a year and a half ago. No dice. I tried an eBook publisher, who seemed interested in it--well, she never said yes, she merely said "I think this might work" but after 3 months of being pulled and yanked around, she never said she wanted it.
Copperhill Media, read my first chapter and wanted to publish it. I'm now about to publish the next book. After 30 years of trying to find a book to please an agent, I was happy to find I could approach someone and finally got published.

That's my story in a nutshell.

I'm glad I stopped by.

Paula Martin said...

Hi Sylvia
I got a 'good' rejection from one editor. After saying "I did find your characters intriguing, multilayered and believable. I loved the richly described English country setting, and your writing was assured and capable throughout", she then continued for a long paragraph with various reasons why it wasn't what they were looking for 'at the moment'.
So at least I knew she had spent time on it, and I understood why it wasn't right for them. I wrote to thank her for her detailed critique, which I really appreciated.

Stargazer said...

Enjoyed your post, Sylvia. Happy writing and hopeful publishing to you.

li said...

The only one I responded to was one which pointed out WHY the story was not right for them. (To be honest, I should have read more samples.) Every other rejection (total of 6) was boilerplate. Two did not even use my name. So, I don't feel like I should bother with a reply.

M Pax said...

Hey, they used your name, too. There are different levels of rejection. So, I was told. The more personal, the better you did. I need to get some more submissions out.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Great post, and thanks for the link. I'm off to check it out.

Enjoy your weekend!

Rob-bear said...

Sorry for all the rejections, Sylvia. Maybe this month. . . .
Good luck.

Carrie said...

It is really nice to get encouraging rejections.

Paul Sunstone said...

It's interesting how a few words indicating the editor actually read our work can make so much difference to us.

Bryce Daniels said...

As Paul said, it is interesting what a few words will do.

I received a compliment on my writing style once. You can bet that agent got a thank you immediately!

Nothing came of it, but the golden rule applies to the publishing industry just as it does life.

Great post!

Ann Best said...

I only consider a rejection "personal," that is, they might have given it it more than a cursory glance, if there's a human piece of handwriting on the piece of paper. I've had a few of these in my lifetime that cheered me on.

Here's hoping you soon get that acceptance letter!
Ann Best, Memoir Author