Just read this frank, and quite brutal post from an editor at Tor about the slushpile. Kinda scary, kinda obnoxious, but worth reading..
January 6th, 2006, 08:36 AM
sometimes rejections are personal. i've had one that was
but ultimately, it just takes getting a lot of them to stop caring! :) i've had so many for my short stories that i now shrug them off, send them out again, and they get accepted elsewhere. my novel, i got accepted with a small print place straight away (too scared to try the bigger places) but i know that bigger places look more for commerical, so if they HAD rejected me, it would have still been upsetting, but i know my stuff isn't the commerical stuff they want.
guess you just have to remind yourself that one place isn't the only place, and that rejedction is often personal opinion. so up thers! :P
January 6th, 2006, 09:50 AM
Catherine the Great couldn't have written a better essay on rejection letters. I finally managed to reach the point where I can take them as a "no, thank you." Took a lot of years to get here.
January 6th, 2006, 11:05 AM
Catherine the Great couldn't have written a better essay on rejection letters.
The snark-to-useful content ratio is a bit too much for me. I find it ironic that an editor would criticize people for taking rejections too personally by writing a rather lengthy and snarky blog entry about specific examples. Such an entry would sustain, rather than diminish, the rejected writers' belief that it is personal.
[editorial rant]And for the record I would like to say that I have reached the saturation point of snark and its ubiquity on the internet. Sometimes it seems like everyone has a blog in which he or she makes smartass remarks about things that bother him or her, and that furthermore, often the cause of the snark doesn't in fact merit the snark, but instead, we see snark for snark's sake, i.e., the writer is writing not so much as a form of catharsis but for the purpose of entertaining others who just love to read a good snark. And lastly: I find the term "snark" annoying as well. Whatever happened to good old "wit" a la Oscar Wilde? This has been a sincere and snark-free editorial[/editorial rant]
That being said, the main point of the essay, which could have been conveyed in 1/10 the number of words (something that I think an editor would have been mindful of), is correct: it ain't personal; it's just business.
For that matter, I also had a problem with the broad brush:
What these guys have failed to understand about rejection is that it isn't personal. If you're a writer, you're more or less constitutionally incapable of understanding that last sentence, if you think there's any chance that it applies to you and your book; so please just imagine that I'm talking about rejections that happen to all those other writers who aren't you.
Talk about stereotyping!
Rejections suck. Especially form rejections. But with the thousands of manuscripts each publisher gets every year, one cannot reasonably expect a personalized rejection letter for every manuscript sent, or for most manuscripts sent, for that matter.
The first rejection in the blog entry is from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. The last phrase, "it just didn't hold my interest," is FSF code for "I read most of the story, but stopped before finishing." (See this (http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/378/1713.html#POST31361) link for the FSF slush editor's unofficial rejection code system).
So, even though this was a form rejection, it is one that actually provides a bit of helpful information, if one knows how to decode it. The story showed some promise at the start, but it lost the editor before the end. No, it's not a line edit, but it's better than nothing.
I finally managed to reach the point where I can take them as a "no, thank you." Took a lot of years to get here.
The impression I get from the people posting their rejections is that they haven't been sending out manuscripts for long. A nice big pile of rejections is a sure-fire cure for the belief that the rejections are personal. Writing for publication is not something for those with a fragile ego. If you can't take rejection, don't submit for publication, because even the best writers and works get rejected.
I went to a Walter Mosley reading a few months back, and he discussed rejections twice. The first was in reference to a short work that he read to the audience. He wrote the work a year earlier, had submitted it to various publishers, and no one wanted it. This is a writer who has repeatedly been on the best sellers list. He read the work to us, and it was great.
The second story he had was about his first published work. After building up a huge pile of rejections for his short stories, he finally got a small magazine to publish a story. Payment was a couple of free issues. A few months later, after the work was all set to be put in print, he got a rejection letter from the same magazine for the same work. They somehow unwittingly re-evaluated the piece and rejected it, despite the fact that it was already going in their next issue!
January 6th, 2006, 11:38 AM
It's the classic them and us scenario...
The editors feel that authors are all stuck-up, sensitive idiots and authors feel that editors are all stuck-up, insensitive idiots.
It is just business for the publishers who have to be efficient and straight to the point and as the article points out, your rejection is a 0.0something percentage of the rejections they have sent out. On the other hand, to the author their work is their baby, they poured their heart and soul into it and that submission may have been 100% of the submissions they have made... there is bound to be friction when you bring the two together.
The most passionate response to a rejection you will get from me currently is along the lines of 'ah cr@p... I had a good feeling about that one too!' however, every single acceptance is like someone handing me a new child! It's when getting the acceptances becomes ho-hum, that I will quit writing.
January 6th, 2006, 11:45 AM
it can also been seen as personal because its our idea, our style, our development, our talent or lack of it. so if someone says this isn't for us, people will see it as them saying, you have bad ideas and ca't write, which is apersonal thing. its not really what the publisher is saying (tho sometimes they might!) but its how you feel when you put so much effort into a story
January 6th, 2006, 12:09 PM
I have taken the rejections personally.
Moaned and groaned and bored my friends silly with my cries of unjust and unfair. Got angry and right pissed off. Then after awhile I have ditched the self pity (because that is just what it is when you look at it.) and gone over the submission and either re-submitted or put it aside for editing.
To be honest when I submit anything now I never expect it to be accepted. lol.... I am too aware of the faults of the work, never can see the strong points of it.
And as a sudmissions editor I know just how hard it is to make the cut with some work....
January 6th, 2006, 12:15 PM
i was like that with my novel. so convinced it would be rejected, i even got all nervous when logging on cos i didn't want to see a rejection
i didn't :) but generally i do think, i will be jrected, then you're not surprised when you are, and happy whjen you aren't!
tho i do get frustrated when i am told, wel iked this story, we sent it through the slush pile, but we ran out of room in the magazine in the end, so its a no.
cos its like, so close, and yet not close enough! and its happened to the same story four times now! they like it, but not enough! grr! :)
January 6th, 2006, 03:29 PM
[editorial rant]And for the record I would like to say that I have reached the saturation point of snark and its ubiquity on the internet. Sometimes it seems like everyone has a blog in which he or she makes smartass remarks about things that bother him or her[/editorial rant]
Banger -- you have nailed it on all points, imo, including the one quoted above. I've only just stumbled over a few of these insider agent and editor blogs ... what a waste. It's not even discouraging because as a writer you learn the hard way to invest as little emotion in the publishing process as possible (Holbrook's method is the best way to go).
No one meets in the middle on these blogs. No one simply says we empathize but must move on.
Instead they shine each other on -- look how coooool we are, how in the know we are, how indisputably correct we are in our sifting process with the lemmings. This is probably why most editors and agents are not writers. Writers must see the motivations of all characters, even the unsavory ones.
Where did this mentality arise? No Max Perkins, indeed. Probem is, they seem pleased by it.
January 7th, 2006, 06:01 PM
Oh my, I am surprised that Patrick or his wife, whoever's site it is, let her do that. I don't know how old "Teresa" is, but she clearly hasn't been in the game long enough to understand authors or to get that the way she phrased things would only make the little darlings more angry and confused. What we seem to have here is an editor or editor in training a bit freaked out by having to deal with one of the central facts of being a book editor or literary agent -- everybody hates you. Panicked venting, if you will.
Unfortunately, while it's okay for me, former editor and aspiring writer, to snidely tell you all you're all wet about publishers' thinking, practising editors and agents are supposed to use tact. (Not all of them manage it obviously.) You are not suppose to tell authors that they are being jerks, not unless they are coming at you very nasty. The examples of decline letters with personal feedback were also unfortunate choices, because they are poorly done letters that are actually too abrupt and rough. So her trying to "defend" them, in an antagonistic tone, does little but piss people off.
She also made it sound like most of the ms. are rejected because of poor grammar. Most manuscripts are rejected because either the people who read them didn't find them very interesting or the writer was felt to have an awkward, stiff and flat style of writing.
So yes, a lot of what she was trying to say was useful info, but because of the way she said it, most authors are not going to understand it and won't believe it. It was not a very coherent essay, I'm afraid, in my opinion. Nothing personal.