Thursday, November 6, 2008

"We're sorry. Your book does not fit our needs at the present time."

Ah, the fun part of being an author. Sometimes, no matter how much you love a manuscript, no matter how much your critique group loves it, and no matter how wonderful all your friends think it is, it just isn't right for the market. So you send it out to editor after editor and agent after agent until you have a thick file (paper, electronic, or both) of rejection letters. Sometimes you get useful criticism, and other times a simple, "It's not right for us at this time."

What's really fun are when you get a collection of letters that look like this:
  • I enjoyed the plotline, but found the characters a little superficial
  • The characters were strong and original, but I wasn't grabbed by your voice
  • Loved your voice, but the conflict was lacking in this story
  • Great tension between hero and heroine, but found the plot a bit weak

O-o-o-kay. You see where I'm going with this? What do you do when one major editor loves something about your story, but hates something else? And when it's a DIFFERENT something for each one?

Send it to somebody else.

Okay, that was easy. But what about when you run out of somebody else's? Or when you get it to that one house that likes to hold onto things for two or three years without any response? It's a very puzzling business we work in, folks, and I don't pretend to have all the answers.

One thing I do know though, is you have to keep going. If writing books is something you really want to do, then you can't give up. In the spring of 2006, I almost did. I was sick of the submission and rejection cycle, and so I sent the three manuscripts I'd been circulating to three different publishers. "This is it," I said. "If one of these doesn't take, I'm hanging it up."

By September, I'd sold all three. To all three different publishers. (Though one has since closed it's doors.) The resulting books are Curses, The Cowboy's Christmas Bride, and Dragon in the System. All three had multiple rejections, and all three have gone on to receive great reviews. So that's my best advice to dealing with rejection. Sulk, feel bad for a little while, then get right back out there and do it again.

Do published authors still get rejected? You betcha. I have a friend who writes for the house whose name is almost synonymous with romance to some people. She regularly turns in proposals for three book deals and has her editor say yes to two of them and no to the third. It happens. The difference is, she has an agent acting as buffer, and she's at the point where she sells on a synopsis & partial, not on the whole book. So it does get better, but let's face it, it's still rejection. It can happen to anyone, and usually does.

So expect it, deal with it, and move on. That's all you can really do. And if writing is really in your blood, then you're probably going to have to deal with it again and again.

Because when somebody FINALLY says, "We'd like to offer you a contract," the file full of rejection letters is all worth it.


  1. Because when somebody FINALLY says, "We'd like to offer you a contract," the file full of rejection letters is all worth it...

    YES it is!

  2. Amen to that! I send out 23 queries to agents once and received 23 rejections. So I sent out more and was eventually found one. In the long run, this journey is fantastic!


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