Monday, October 29, 2007

In Support of the Personal Rejection...

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.


Yolanda Sfetsos said...

Lovely post, Ericka.

So sorry to hear about your R - says one writer to another who happened to get an R yesterday as well. Lol.

And I agree. I love getting personal rejection letters because they provide an opinion and criticism. Stuff that I love (and need) to know, as a writer.

I'm NOT one of those writers that gets touchy. I actually love to hear the how and why the story didn't work for the editor. Rejection is part of the process, and I've never had a problem with that.

Man, sometimes I think you and I have a very similar, parallel writing life. LOL! :D

Alice Audrey said...

I once worked for a small publisher. I'll tell you, nothing would have me grabbing for the for rejection letter faster than the suspicion a writer might go nutso on me if I actually personalized it.

India Carolina said...

Great attitude Ericka. I have to admit that personal rejections from an editor are valuable. And I appreciate them. I know they have helped me improve my manuscript. So yay for personal rejections. The call, however, would be even more appreciated!

Ericka Scott said...

Alice -- I do know what you mean --those form rejections have to be a lifesaver for some editors!

India -- I agree...The Call is the best result!

Ericka Scott said...

Yolanda...perhaps you are my evil twin (bwaa-haaa-haaa)

Yolanda Sfetsos said...

LOL! Could be. ;)

Debra Moore said...

My first thought on reading your post was "What a smart and classy chick." Then my second Thought, "She's going to go far in this business."

Because it is a business. Those editors and agents and acquiring personnel are there for one reason, and one reason only: to make money. You could have the next best thing to sliced bread in a manuscript, but if they can't sell it, they can't buy it. When I keep that in mind, any rejection letter is easier to stomach and certainly more valuable than the form letter. (I never said I liked them, but they are easier to swallow when you think of it that way. I mean, really, nobody likes "no" for an answer. LOL)

However! Take a look at This chick works for some agent in NYC, and after reading just a little of the blog, I'm AMAZED how many writers will do exactly what you've said: make excuses, argue, berate, and generally make asses of themselves. NOT good business.

You keep it up, girl. You've got a solid head on your shoulders and the kind of stick-to-it that will take you far!

Ericka Scott said...

Debra -- what a great blog you've discovered...if only for a laugh a day (or for lessons on what NOT to do!)

Alice Audrey said...

Hey Ericka, when you coming over to FanLit Forever?

beverley said...

I do love the personal rejection. I hold onto to those like King tut's jewels. The forms go right in the garbage. But I'm so used to rejection, they don't phaze me too much anymore. I think I'm now taken about when someone says I want to see your work. With my next book getting polished right now, I'm gearing myself up for rejections this new year!

Ericka Scott said...

Alice -- today's my first chance to get over there...the entire family was felled by the's been a miserable few days. Sigh...

Beverly - good luck with your submissions. Here's hoping there will be an acceptance in there!

Erica Ridley said...

if the editor knows my ex-husband's ex-wife and just has a really low opinion of me

LOL! Sorry about the R but hurray for the personalized rejection!