Monday, September 07, 2009

Rejection is hard

I've just rejected a manuscript - an unsolicited manuscript.

I think authors under-estimate what a difficult task this is for a publisher. I want to believe in every manuscript, every opportunity, that crosses my desk. But I know that there's no market for some, and some (a surprisingly few) just aren't very good, many have the germ of a good idea, and some are good but just not good enough to run the gauntlet of publication. Then I have to believe in the author. Will they put in the hard yards of not only writing but of rewriting and drafting and rewriting again. And then of embracing the critical process of editing. Then of backing the book when it is published and then of doing it again for the next book and the next. Are they hungry enough? Reading between the lines of the covering letter of many of the manuscripts we receive, I sense that the author is in love with the idea of writing. It is a romance not a commitment.

Rejecting manuscripts is my least favourite task. When an unsolicited manuscript lands on my desk there's a reluctance to open it as I'm most likely to have to say no.


Lucky said...

Hmm,it's pretty tough on the other side as well. Now when a large envelope arrives in the mail my 8-year-old daughter says "O-oh! Big envelopes mean a rejection!" But I am learning to take stock of grades of rejection. I heard in a creative writing class that Penguin has a list of A to F letters of rejection. Does BDB have something like this?

Trish said...

I understand what you’re saying. When I wrote my first manuscript, I rewrote it so many times that my brain hurt. I’ve revised the second one in the series, but I can’t seem to stop myself from going back and editing the first one, even when I’m working on my third book.

You have to be really committed to writing, and sacrifices have to be made. Family members complain that they feel neglected, and there’s no time for TV, housework or other hobbies. When you finish work for the day, the writing addiction takes over. All you do is write, edit and write some more. You keep writing and learning, often falling asleep at your computer.

You learn to shrug your shoulders at the world, unless they happen to be another writer. You have to join critique groups and you have to have a blog. :)

Andrew's black dog blog said...

No we don't have anything as formulaic as that.