The envelope arrived in the mail with the self-addressed label I’d affixed some weeks prior. Inside was a nice tri-folded typed note that read:
“Thank your for submitting your book proposal to ____ _____ (unnamed publisher). We have reviewed the materials and have decided that the book is not quite right for our current publishing program.”
What does “not quite right” mean? Is it within a millimeter of being “right,” or a mile and a half? And if a publishing program isn’t “current,” what is it? An antique? In the future?
Alright. So I’m in a bit of a blue funk. Know what? I’ve decided blue funks are okay. For a time.
If you’ve poured heart and soul into a manuscript and slaved long weeks over just the “right” turn of a phrase, agonized over pacing and rhythm, polished dialogue and plot to a bright sheen only to have “The Editors’ reject your magnum opus, there’s a word for the experience: disappointment. Aka: Aw, phooey.
And that’s okay. It’s okay to admit that something hurts when it does.
What’s not okay is to let it take you out for the count. To get so discouraged that you give up.
The truth? If you’ve been writing for more than ten minutes or so, you know that rejection letters come with the territory. Don’t take them personally. And don’t let them stop you from doing what you were born to do: write!
Now, if “the editors” have specified how or why your latest sparkling masterpiece isn’t “quite right” for their “current publishing program,” listen up and learn. Avoid making the same mistakes twice.
More often than not, however, such letters offer little or no useful advice in the how or why departments. When that happens, you might:
– Submit elsewhere
– Rewrite and re-submit
– Rework a current manuscript for a different publisher
– Pare down a manuscript into an article or an article series and sell it to a magazine
– Set aside the rejected mss. and start something new
– Treat yourself to another slice of raspberry white chocolate cheesecake with double hot fudge
– Pack your bags and head to Tibet.
Before you dive into that last one, try offering your writing skills to a non-profit. Volunteer to write for and/or edit their newsletter and other publications. This can be a great opportunity to network. It may even turn into a paying gig. If it doesn’t, you’re still building relationships, polishing your skills and helping someone. It’s a chance to turn an “aw, phooey” into a win-win.
Have you received a rejection letter? How did you turn it into a “win-win”?