Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Thank you for that rejection. No really.

In preparation for this blog post -- ha! you thought I never prepped these things in advance and just wrote them all stream-of-consciousness style on the day of, didn't you? -- I scoured seven years worth of emails, beginning with extremely unwise submission of some very bad short stories. Despite the universal ickitude of the crud I foisted upon these editors and agents (and interns), I couldn't remember any stand-out scathing rejections.

So I wasn't entirely surprised when my search yielded...nope. Not one mean note. That's not to say there weren't a metric crap-ton of "this isn't a good fit" or "keep trying, noob" or "not interested at this time" form phrasing. But everybody was super polite with their language. (Nobody used the word "noob." I just put that in because it's a fun word and lack of professionalism suits me.)

Anyway, I'm not sure if I should be flattered or disappointed by the unbroken monotony of vague, bland rejection. I mean, it took time and energy for editors and agents to compose the passionate rejections littered with Shakespearean insults that other folks received.

And then, somwhere in the fog of 2015, I found it, the exception. The one rejection that was personal, different, dare I say brutally honest. It wasn't cruel, but it was super, super true, and I wish I'd paid more attention to it.

I'll paraphrase so I don't embarrass this person, but an editor said, basically, "Kid, you need to decide whether you're writing science fiction or romance, cuz right now you could go either way with this book, and readers aren't likely to dig that kind of wishywashiness. Pick a freakin side."

If you read that book right now (because sadly, I did eventually convince someone to publish it), you'll find yourself nodding and agreeing with that honest editor. I know I do. That unnamed-here person taught me a valuable lesson in knowing the market and realizing that all the fancy words in the world ain't gonna sell a book that can't decide what it is.

So, I'm not being sarcastic in the least when I say thank you, editor who rejected my manuscript. And also? Truth is always valuable, even when it hurts.

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