Ericka Scott

In Support of the Personal Rejection…
Monday, October 29th, 2007
Filed under A Writer's Life

Well, lots of good news has to be tempered with a bit of bad news…right?

I got a rejection today for one of my tales. So, it’s off in search of a new home. However, as rejections go, this has to be the nicest, most constructive rejection letter I’ve ever received. It didn’t even feel like a rejection. Which made me think about the discussion a week or so ago on Romancing the Blog about form rejections versus personal rejections.

There are lots of cons for the personal rejection for the editor’s POV —

It takes time to write them and a few minutes here and there do add up. Especially when dealing with a towering pile of submissions!

It also seems to bring out the worst in some writers who berate the editor for not viewing their manuscript as the masterpiece they think it is. Or who want to argue minutiae with the editor in hopes of changing their mind. It also seems to open the door for the writer stuck in the infinite loop of submitting. They change three words, and send it back in uninvited, two, three or more times!

Yep, I see lots of cons for the editor — and I’m sure all editors out there could add more to this list!

But there are Pros to that personalized rejection letter. As a writer, I love them. In many cases, the editor has taken the time to tell me where I fell off the track (e.g., your hero/heroine is simply too stupid to live [TSTL], or there were too many spelling and grammar errors, or the writing was too dull and pedestrian, the plot was not well thought out, or the conflict not big enough to sustain the story, etc., etc…)

For me, a form letter is the worst. It takes hold and makes my imagination fly off into all sorts of directions. Especially the “politically correct” rejections. You know, the ones that adopt the “sorry it’s not you, it’s us” format. These form letters don’t help me as a writer at all. I don’t know if the story sucks, if the editor just bought the same plot line, or if the editor knows my ex-husband’s ex-wife and just has a really low opinion of me. After receiving one of those (and I’ve had my fair share, believe me)…I’ll simply proceed to torture other publications with the story until someone finally has the guts to tell me my hero is walking around with toilet paper stuck to his shoe and my heroine is TSTL.

As you can tell, I’m all in favor for personalized rejection letters — however, as a writer, it leaves ME with the responsiblity of what I do next.

1. I do NOT write the editor and tell them they must have read the wrong book because they couldn’t possibly be rejecting MINE!

2. I do analyze what the editor said and determine whether I, as the author, agree with their assessment. I can then choose to change the story or not.

3. I do NOT make the changes to the document and send it back to the editor without an invitation to do so.

4. I do NOT publically berate the editor or the publisher by name on my blog for all the world to see. Blogs are PUBLIC people — and the words you type can last an eternity in cyberspace.

And my last responsibility is to look at this rejection as an opportunity to seek out new publications, editors, or agents to submit the work to. What’s wrong for one may be oh-so-right for the next one.

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