Saturday, 23 February 2008


The editor who was interested in my non-fiction gift book for writers has... rejected. No, I'm not devastated. Rejection is part and parcel of this business. As a matter of fact, it's the norm; acceptance is the exception.

So, does knowing this make it easier? Maybe. There's a bit of a letdown, of course, but it does not go to the heart. I've examined his comments; some were positive, stuff like "good choices" and "well researched". Others were not, such as "repetitive and forced", referring to two chapters in particular, one on the craft, the other on stumbling blocks.

I disagree absolutely with his assessment. As I told the agent in a subsequent e-mail, 'the craft' and 'stumbling blocks' are distinct, major issues for writers, judging from the books on writing I've read, from my interactions with writers, and from my reading of their blogs and websites. The chapter on the craft focuses on the actual craft of writing: on the language. The one on stumbling blocks deals with the psychological hurdles and pressures, the ones imposed by the writer as well as the external pressures. The real irony is that the editor in question has seen nothing of these chapters but the chapter titles. For a non-fiction proposal only three sample chapters are required. The chapters he mentioned weren't among those sent in the proposal package.

Doesn't matter, though, whether I'm right or wrong; that editor isn't buying the book. Maybe another one will; maybe not.

The toughest thing I've had to survive in this life was a bruising rejection from someone I loved. Editorial rejection isn't even in the same arena. It's much, much easier. Life goes on.

It's business as usual.

P.S. This is too good not to share; it's all about rejection. Thank you, Kevin.


kim said...

someone will buy that book. All the people I know who love to write, also love reading about writing. A gift book about writing?

If it's written half decent, it will sell.

JJ said...

That's a fascinating observation - that personal rejection and the following grief is sooooo much harder to deal with than the rejection of a book/idea/article.

I shall remember that if I ever complete...


KeVin K. said...

Good for you, kid.

And the great thing about a ms is that immediately after rejection, you can package it neatly and send it off to another market.
(Note: This tactic is not recommended in conjunction with personal rejections.)

There's a market out there; one willing to pay top dollar. All you have to do is puzzle out their address.

KeVin K. said...

Took me a while to find this. It's a scene from a British series I've never seen (most of my "finding" time was spent trying to remember the name of the show).

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

You have a great attitude. It is hard not to take these rejections personally.

There will be another editor for your book. Good luck.

Pacha said...

Well, I take your rejection personally!!! Especially as it seems not to have been a just assessment!

Oh! I am so cross! I should learn from you to take it all with philosophy.

You'll find someone else to publish it, I'm sure. All of the very best sweetie. And thanks for the lesson on control!

Lane said...

Sorry to hear this Liane but your take on the rejection is inspiring.

Get it out there quickly. It will sell. I'm sure!

Matt said...

That reminds me, I never posted my latest round of honor badges/rejections slips.

You made it into his hands and got personal feedback. That's huge. You must be doing something right.

If you ever want or need a second (third, fourth, 203rd) pair of eyes on a manuscript, don't hesitate to ask.

wordtryst said...

Kim, I love your positivity. I also think writers would love it.

JJ, I've read that some writers are heartbroken over every agent and editorial rejection. They shouldn't be, and I think we all learn, sooner or later, that it's not personal so we shouldn't take it personally.

Kevin, it would be great if personal rejection could be handled the same way: write, mail, repeat. As for the market, I also believe it exists. And thanks for the video. I love it!

Nyc/caribbean, thank you. If I have a great attitude it's because of all those writers who share their experience and advice. I read so much about what others had to say about rejection that when my time came around I was armed and ready!

Thank you, Pacha. You made me smile. I keep reading that the editor is ALWAYS right, and when one rejects you don't argue. Hopefully another one will come along who'll 'get' it. I've seen so many instances where editors contradict each other. One loves the characters; another finds them wooden. One thinks there's too much description; another thinks there isn't enough. We just have to accept that this is a very subjective business.

Lane, thanks for the vote of confidence!

Matt, reading those rejections can be entertaining - which doesn't mean they're not painful. I'm sure you've seen Sideways; it's amazing what writers have to endure, and we still keep at it. Thank you so much for your offer - I've got a 'first' reader, but I know that one neutral pair of eyes isn't quite enough. Will let you know when I need another... :)

Chumplet said...

You're so close, and the strengths obviously outweigh the editor's perceived weak points.

That video is an excellent lesson in "Don't say a word and put away that pen" when you get rejected.

Verification: grrhpel. Grr... help?

Kaz Augustin said...

Hey, Liane! ::hugs:: Sorry I haven't been around lately ... too much work on at the moment.

I feel for you. Rejection is tough. However, something you may consider before you send your packet off to the next company (and you are going to, aren't you?) is perhaps play with the 2 chapter titles in question and make them sound ... oh, I don't know ... more different. Wouldn't hurt.

Debs said...

It sounds like a damn good book and well done for taking the rejection so well.

I have tears running down my face from watching that video, it's the funniest thing I've seen for so long and so easy to relate to.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a book I would buy. The best thing about rejection is that it can be rejected. Only this afternoon I heard an interview on the BBC that the popular crime novelist Patricia Cornwell wrote 3 novels in 4 years; all of which were rejected by several publishers. What does that say about publishers.

The Anti-Wife said...

Keep querying. Some intelligent person will be delighted to take it on.

JJ said...

Oh fabulous youtube.

liz fenwick said...

Ditto what JJ said about personal rejection and writerly rejection but ((((()))))s anyway for both.