That's what happened today. We were interested in a script that had been submitted to us but after a few conversations the author said no this morning. Nobody likes rejection but it was the right decision.
We do want a close relationship with the author and with the script. We want to be involved. We can even be quite directive as editors. That's us, and it works for authors who like and benefit from that sort of support, from that sort of editorial conversation, from that sort of a conversation about where his or her writing is going. That's the concept of the publisher as a "house".
But it doesn't work for everybody. And its a prick of a place to be in when it isn't working - for everybody; when there is a mismatch between expectations. And I think many authors so want to be published that they say yes that's what I want, without exploring what the editorial relationship will mean for them and their book(s). Some, usually experienced, authors are clear sighted but there's lots of myths hanging around about what publishers should or should not do.
So the author in this case made the right call about what she wanted. And though it hurts, it's a decision that I respect her making. For us it was a process worth going through to establish that it was the right call.
I'm looking forward to seeing that manuscript as a book in a bookshop one day (soooner rather than later).