Friday, August 19, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly... Except Without The Good

I got an email yesterday from a big time publisher rejecting my novel along with the following comment:

“I realise that this is not the news you were hoping for, but I hope you will take some comfort from the fact that yours was one of just a handful of novels we requested after reading the initial submission.”

For those who didn’t know, the “initial submission” they mentioned was during said publisher’s open door month where they solicited queries and a few sample chapters from the unagented. They wrote me back a few months after I sent them a few sample chapters and asked for the full manuscript.

But the email I got today was it. No notes, no, “Hey, here’s where it fell apart.” or "This is where I stopped being interested." Nothing, just the above note implying that I was really close. I need more than that. Do I rewrite, expand, change? Keep it as-is and send it back out to everyone else on my wishlist? Self-pub this and try to sell something completely new to the big boys? If I were to self-publish a novel though, I’d like a professional editor at least give it a pass before I put it up. Hiring one freelance isn’t cheap though, for the hours they put in, even one that offers cheap rates will cost nearly a thousand dollars – I’m not quite ready to go there yet.

Anyway, to get back on topic. Quite honestly, I would think the only kind of rejection I would be okay with would be one where they A) asked me to submit something else, which they didn’t. Or B) Tell me what went wrong so I can fix it, which they also didn’t do.  In all honesty, more than anything else, I’m bummed that I won’t get to work with an “A-list” editor that can tear apart my manuscript and mold it into something epic. Or at the very least, make it better than it is now.

Because, as it stands, I feel like that story I submitted has opportunities for improvement. I might be able to expand some things, cut some things… I just don’t know though. I’ve had my nose in it for so many years, cut so much away, added so much back in, that it feels like Frankenstein’s monster to me. All patch-worked together with some spackle to cover the cracks where different sections join.

Wait, did Frankenstein use spackle?

Instead, I got the nicest possible form rejection. Crap. What that tells me about my writing is that I’m still a minor leaguer, but one who’s unsure what parts of his game he needs to fix to get to the majors. I’m stopping by the liquor store tonight in order to cope with my disappointment. Then I’ll try to come up with a plan of action going forward.

Dammit, things would have been much simpler if they just sent along a copy of a contract.

Hello square one, nice to see you again.


mooderino said...

It's frustrating. They took the time to read it, would it be so hard to just mention roughly what it was that didn't work for the? I think they probably don't want to get into a debate with some irate over-sensitive writer so won't risk it, but I think the good would outweight the bad.

Feeling your pain,

Christine Rains said...

I sympathize with you. I've gotten a few rejections like that. So close and yet so far. What is that little something that I'm missing? I will never know unless someone tells me. All we can do is keep trying.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't know the proper etiquette, but could you reply with a request for suggestions?
Don't give up on that one - even spackled, it still rocks.

Rogue Mutt said...

Those rejections always suck. Basically every rejection sucks, but it'd be nice if they let you try to fix what's wrong.

Deborah Walker said...

Sorry to hear that, Rusty.

You know, I don't mind forms, because all they can give is opinion and that might not work for the next editor. Sounds like you got through the quality filter and now you got to keep pluggin' away.

Laila Knight said...

They never let you know what's wrong. I feel your pain. Don't give up though. It'll happen. Keep plowing forward. :O

Andrew said...

The problem, really, is that you don't actually even know if they did read it. I mean, maybe they did. They did ask for the manuscript, but that doesn't mean they ever actually did read it.

Andrew said...

Oh, and I got your bookette, today.

Michael Offutt said...

It's a form rejection Rusty. They say that shit to make you feel better about the rejection. That's the way managers and people in management are taught to let down people so that they don't get ballistic. They sent that same thing to everyone that they rejected. It means nothing. I read your novella. Your book was probably just as solid. Here's what I think you should take from it.

"Dear Rusty. We are not going to publish your book because you are not famous. We want guaranteed money. You are not guaranteed money. We run these kinds of promos so that people will still have hope when really, what we wanted was a person with a huge twitter following like Wil Wheaton from Star Trek or something."

Call me a cynic, but that's just how I see it. You are not famous so you aren't getting published.

Danette said...

Sorry about the rejection Rusty but at least you got a form letter! The last submission I sent in they told me to snail mail in my piece with a pre-adressed stamped envelope. Guess what? Nothing! Nada! They've never even bothered to send my empty envelope back to me! Bastards! And one other place I sent my submission to just blew me off never even sent me a rejection. Mo, my boyfriend, has had the same experience. It's brutal out there. Time for a drink.

Stephen Tremp said...

I have enough rejection letters to wallpaper my house. Well, one of these days something has to stick. The law of averages has to start working in my favor. Happy querying!

Nancy said...

just saw this. Sorry you didn't get the news your writing deserved. However, much of a form letter it was. It was a form letter that many of the people who submitted never got because their manuscipts weren't submitted. Mom, who of course is dead now so everything she said is now golden, told me that she read once that the majority of people who finish a novel will get published (maybe not on that one) simply because they have demonstrated that they have the tenacity to finish and keep going. Your writing is solid and your ideas are fantastic. I'll be interested to see which one ends up being the "first," and then you can go back and sell those that didn't sell the first time around.