The Pain of Rejection
For the last few hours, I’ve been sorting through my mail, folding letters and logging manuscripts. Some people are surprised to learn I keep a log of the various submissions. It’s not difficult—and if someone asks about my response—or tries to send in something second time after a year or six months, it’s painfully obvious to me.
Manuscripts and proposals and query letters come in all shapes and sizes. I’m looking for the best possible manuscripts to publish for Howard Publishing fiction. It’s a part-time job but I try to consistently work on my stack of submissions so people hear from me. It’s often not the answer they want to hear. Yes, takes time in publishing and involves a lot of consensus building within the publishing house.
No can often be determined quickly. If you send in a query about a 25,000 word novel or a children’s book, then you are headed for rejection. Howard Publishing doesn’t do children’s books and I’m the fiction acquisitions editor. We’re not considering youth books or young adult. Instead the focus is on six to eight adult length novels (generally 80,000 to 100,000 words). So…if your novel is 56,000 words, it’s too short for serious consideration—no matter how well it is written.
Now the writing—that’s another consideration. You would be shocked at the telling manuscripts which don’t jump into the plot. Or they meander around the story line before they jump into it. Also I’m looking for excellent storytelling and a plot that I can’t put down. I understand it’s a high goal—but I have many manuscripts and only a few manuscripts will be selected and even fewer ultimately contracted.
Because I am someone who also writes and loves writing books and magazine articles, it’s painful to send these rejection letters. I know people have poured their heart and dreams into these submissions. I’ve also learned the hard way if I add anything personal, I will get it revised and resubmitted to me—and often again rejected. Instead, I’ve resorted to the standard editor response—the dreaded form letter. I don’t like receiving them and I don’t like sending them—but they come with the business.
In one minor way, I do like to process the fiction submissions. Whether the writer likes my response or not is not the issue. It’s important to me that they have received a response. Often submissions go into a black hole and you never know if the editor received it, processed it or anything. With each submission, I know they have been read, carefully considered and rendered a decision. In some ways, I hope it softens the pain of rejection.