The first was a rejection letter. Sounds wrong somehow, but there are three types of rejection in the world of query letter and manuscript submission.
- The first type is very anti-climactic: no response. It's annoying, but doesn't hurt that badly unless it's from an agent or publisher that you were really sure was going to LOVE what you have written.
- The second type is the form rejection letter. It's more respectful than the no-response rejection because you get closure and can move on, but it hurts a bit more. Form rejections basically thank you for your submission and tell you it was not right for that particular agent/publisher and encourages you to keep trying. It's not actually very encouraging.
- But when an agent or publisher takes the time to write you a personal e-mail rejection, it can be encouraging. It tells you that somebody actually read what you sent them and cares enough to respond. Here's the one I received this morning. It's from a publisher, in response to the query and MS I sent them of The Solstice Dance, a children's picture book I wrote quite a long time ago:
Thanks very much. Very charming material. But I'm afriad we're not in a position to do this kind of book currently, particularly if an illustrator is not involved with the submission. Particularly with this book, getting the geography, customs, garments, and other details correct requires specific knowledge in order to avoid cultural gaffes.
Perhaps a publisher with more extensive connections with illustrators would be a better choice? Thank you in any case for you interest and for sharing your submission.
I really feel like writing back to him, begging him to reconsider, offering to find an appropriate illustrator... but I won't. I'll write back to thank him for taking the time to write me a personal e-mail.
The second thing that motivated me today is something I read on the website of a publisher's editorial guidelines. They likened getting a book published to becoming a famous actor, and I thought about all the stories of actors going to auditions with hundreds of others, and getting rejected for years before getting a break. Sure, some actors get lucky the first time, but those are in the extreme minority. Some of them may go on to write scripts and produce their own movies, which is similar to self-publishing. Instead of being discouraged by this comparison, I'm encouraged by it. At least I don't have to live in Hollywood and try out in front of impatient directors.
It is pretty exciting to hear back from agents and publishers, even when it's a rejection. If you want to be a writer: Never. Give. Up.