Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To My Readers Who've Been Rejected by Publishers

I've got a question. I just got my first rejection of the book proposal today, but well, it was really quite nice, I thought. I'm wondering whether all rejections of this sort are nice or whether I should be (as I kind of am) pleased with my first rejection.

(I should also note that this was my least favorite of the three publishers to whom I sent the proposal out, so I wasn't terribly invested in them from the get-go, and in fact am kind of happy to have been rejected by them whatever the tone of the rejection.)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about your rejection, but do take heart: some publishers are not nice at all. Did this one send you any useful feedback or the reviewers' comments? Keep trying and good luck!

Anonymous said...

I haven't been rejected by a publisher (not, uh, having yet *sent* a proposal or manuscript to a press), but I used to write rejection letters for the editors I worked with at two different university presses, so I think I have a sense of some of the varieties of rejection letters (from the form letter to the more kind form letter to the more detailed, an-editor-actually-spent-an-hour-or-two-reading-your -proposal-BEFORE-rejecting-it letter.

So--in what way was it nice?

Dr. Crazy said...

Well, there wasn't much detail, but they didn't say it sucked outright, nor did they just say that they weren't interested. In fact, they said that it is very interesting and that it just doesn't fit the direction of their list at the present time (which I did think might be the case with them, but I went ahead and sent it anyway). At any rate, it could well be that the person writing the letters just says that to be nice, and if so - how awesome of that person! - but it actually felt kind of genuine. Or maybe I just want to believe the following: "The proposal looks very impressive and I am sure that the book would be well received."

Dr. Crazy said...
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Rhonda said...

I got my very first rejection from a publisher yesterday, and while it wasn't mean or rude or anything, it wasn't exactly "nice." I got a paragraph of substantive critique (in essence, "your approach is all wrong, and by the way, your writing and argument structure aren't great, either"). The editor didn't go out of his way to be encouraging, but he did at least demonstrate that he had read my proposal carefully.

I'd say if you were left with a feeling that it was a nice rejection, then that's a great sign.

Greg said...

FWIW, I had the experience of receiving similar "nice" rejections for a book proposal, and then eventually getting an acceptance. I think the nice rejection means that chances are pretty good that you can find an editor whose list will fit with your idea. I don't think editors normally write such letters unless they felt it had some merit.

Anonymous said...

Hm. Well, it's hard to say. We had a kind, polite (but quite brief) form letter that we used most of the time, and that didn't in and of itself indicate whether the editor took 2 minutes or two days to reject a project--in many cases it was really and truly that a given book just didn't fit our current publication program (or that we'd published a similar book the previous year that had sold approximately 10 copies).

But what you got could also be a letter deliberately tailored to be encouraging --my old editor would often write me a sentence or two indicating that I should add X and Y specific nice comments to the letter, because he found the proposal especially interesting or meritorious.

Ultimately, though, there's no way of knowing. No one is ever going to send you a letter saying that your project sucks--which means that all rejection letters are pretty inscrutable.

The important thing here is: you've sent the darn thing out, and you've got it out elsewhere, and we, your readers, know that it's a meritorious project.

Even if we don't know what it is. :)

Dr. Crazy said...

Point taken on all rejections being inscrutable, F. :)

And I didn't really expect them to say that it sucked, but I suppose that I didn't expect any encouraging words either. I expected something more along the lines of, "Thank you for your proposal. We are not interested in publishing your manuscript at this time. Have a nice day." The fact that the editor made any sort of a gesture toward the merit of the project struck me as unnecessary, I suppose, if the editor just wasn't into it. That said, any rejection that makes one feel good about his/her work is a good rejection indeed.

At the end of the day, I think the rejection coming today was fortuitous, as it's gotten me back in gear to work on some of the polishing I need to do of a couple of the other chapters so that if anybody ever is really interested in the thing and wants to see the full manuscript I can send it without scrambling.

Kate Evans said...

I think the rejection sounds promising. It wasn't a standard one, which shows they truly did admire some aspects of it.

I sent out my book proposal (Negotiating the Self) to 4 publishers. After 3 had rejected it, the only one left was the best one (Routledge)--and so I thought, "Oh well, I've got to send out to the next tier." But, surprisingly enough, a few weeks later I got an acceptance from Routledge. It was their type of book. It's true that hitting the market *just right* is key. And serendipity. And luck.

Keep going. It'll happen.

Anonymous said...

I got some rejections that were polite, some were interested and sorry, some were perfunctory, some were rude.

I tried not to spend too much time on it: sometimes I wondered if the difference between a polite and a rude rejection were simply the difference in the tone of the same, basic form letter.

Still, like you, I was always encouraged by generious politeness. And why not be?

Most of all, good luck!!!

D.B. said...

I sent out proposals for a prof and read all responses (at his direction, natch). Many said they dug his project, but that it wasn't right for their particular &c. (possibly b/c it was very long). He ultimately published with a reputable press and got tenure. I also remember he sent his stuff to at least 14 presses. Good luck Dr. C!

Overdue said...

I've received my share of rejections. Some were terse...and so quickly delivered! That hurt. I doubt they read the proposal. On the other end of the spectrum, one editor called me, because I'd been referred by a colleague. The editor said--rightly and sincerely, I think--that my project was best served by other presses, because it just didn't fit on their list. I did end up with a contract from a good press where the project does fit, so it all ended well. Good luck!

Wiccachicky said...

I posted a HUGE rant about this topic Monday. I have had some nice rejections, but far more of the nasty kind.

Nik said...

I received a long rejection today. Long rejections can be worse in that they make me rethink the whole piece--how much should I revise based on the feedback from one journal? Somedays, I prefer the form letter. Especially at the end of the semester when I mostly want to sleep.