Friday 1 June 2007

The Sting in Nice Rejections

Rating the quality of the rejections may help salve the wound.

The nice ones, the ones that compliment your writing, must mean the manuscript was almost good enough - or maybe, the manuscript was good enough but it was not right for the agent at the time, or maybe the agent liked you, really liked you, but it wasn't the sort of manuscript they had been successful in selling in the past.

You feel better analysing the rejections but don't forget: it's just guess work. It ain't true.

One day, a friend showed me a rejection letter that had given him hope. It said his book was excellent but that the agent didn't feel passionate enough about it to take it out to the market. It was a rejection, but it was encouraging.

The problem was, it was worded exactly in the same way as a rejection I'd received from the same agent.

Comes author Lee Weatherly (Missing Abby, Child X) at her recent SCBWI talk in London. Lee revealed that she used to read the slush pile at David Higham Associates and send out the rejections. She said she was given four letter templates to choose from that ranged in tone from negative to very enthusiastic.

So those rejection letters? They're not personal.

Editorialanonymous (my new must-read after Miss Snark retired) does us a favour with this list of eight things you should know about rejections. The most important thing of all is point six:

Most rejection letters mean nothing. Nothing. (Except that you can cross that publisher/agent off the list.) You need to internalize this fact however you can. Chant it in the bathtub. Write it backwards on your forehead. Listen to a tapeloop of it while you sleep. No matter what the editor/agent says, no matter what words they use, rejection letters mean nothing.

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