Maybe I Have Three Legs... and There's a Foot Attached to Each One?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
This past week, I got another rejection email. This publisher had received a partial manuscript, and requested a full. I was thrilled.

They had it for well over 6 months, not long by industry standards, I know, but long enough to keep me alternately hopeful and despondent which meant I was alternately gorging on mashed potatoes and milk chocolate. (I'm an equal opportunity overeater. I eat when I'm sad and I eat to pre celebrate.)

image by Pixabay

Here's the email I got. A nice, encouraging rejection, but a big fat "no" nonetheless.

Good Morning,
     Thank you for your patience in awaiting a response, and we apologize or the long, long delay. We have carefully considered your story and think that your writing is promising. However, we simply could not engage with the story.
      Because we are not fully vested in it, we can’t guarantee you the level of marketing support that you should expect and deserve. It would not be fair to you to accept this novel until we are ready to zealously market Middle Grade.
     Please keep in mind that this is a very subjective industry, and what does not work for ______ Press may certainly work for another press.  Your writing is certainly good enough for it. We encourage you to continue submitting to other publishers.  If a future project better fits our guidelines, we invite you to submit to _______ Press again.
     We wish you the very best in your writing career.  Good Luck!

Were they a perfect fit? No. One of the press' partners is partial to erotica. I don't read it, nor do I write it. My idea of getting sensual is using my new Flawless, a tiny appliance that makes my mustache magically (and painlessly) disappear. This press hasn't published any middle grade books yet, although they are open to middle grade submissions. I thought I'd be their first. As far as I can tell, they've only published three books, all authored by one of the partners. I hoped my book would be their fourth.

But alas, no.

Not too long ago, I got another rejection. Same manuscript. Same process. I'd sent in a sample, they'd requested a full manuscript, then after six months or so, they said no. Thanks, but no thanks.

That publisher wasn't an exact perfect match either... Or is it a case of sour grapes on my part? They were not headquartered in the U.S., although I daydreamed about having to travel abroad as part of the publishing process when I was still hanging onto hope. However, my story is very American. Having my book published in a different country didn't seem ideal.

My writing accountability group (who are trying but are having little success at holding me accountable) advise to make a final push. Submit to a bunch of agents and publishers before going another route.

I Googled "author rejection" and found this list of books that had been rejected many times until they were finally published. Tears welled up when I got to The Help. That is one of my favorite books and movies. If she continued after 60 rejections (61 was the magic number), why can't I? (I only have 16 rejections... along with countless "No news is bad news" nonresponses.)

I had all my eggs in three baskets. Two baskets are now a smashed-up mess. One is still intact.

I'm just waiting for the third shoe to drop...

Sioux is a teacher, a freelance writer and a dog rescuer. In her spare time, she naps on the couch at odd times and reads--she's currently reading American Dirt and is almost finished with it. (It's reallyreallyreally good.) If you'd like to read more of her writing, check out her blog.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Thank you for your transparency as always, Sioux! I think you dodged a bullet. The publisher is basically saying that they can't do your book justice in terms of marketing. I'm so glad they were honest! There's nothing worse than a publisher taking on a book and doing nothing, and you're doing all the marketing and selling and making a tiny percentage. If that's the case, you might as well self-publish and make the lion's share of the profits!

I agree with them saying that your writing is certainly good enough for publication, and you should definitely fling it everywhere like pasta and see what sticks. :) That list is incredible... Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - 121 times! I bet publishers are kicking themselves for turning it down since it's been a bestseller for years.

So I vote for March being your spray it everywhere month. What do you think?

Renee Roberson said...

I agree with Angela that it sounds like they were intrigued by your book but knew they couldn't hold up their end of the bargain on marketing middle grade. That is a very encouraging rejection and I'm glad they took the time to give you a thoughtful response. Would it be wrong if I said I'm a tad envious your book has gotten manuscript requests? This is coming from someone who has rewritten her YA at least five times and never gotten a single nibble from an agent or publisher. So already you are a winner in my book. I say you send this sucker out all over the place now. It will reach the right person.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yep, celebrate a personal (definitely not a form) rejection. And celebrate that this publisher said no because you need a publisher who knows the middle grade market!

You have options, Sioux, so hang in there!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

They want middle grade but they don't know how to market middle grade? Okie-dokie. Glad to see you have a chance to find a better fit!

One of the speakers I heard this weekend sent her manuscript out to 70 agents before she had several authors. And she had marketed two or three other ms before that one.


Margo Dill said...

And honestly, if it's a small publisher, you really could do everything they are doing for you yourself... :)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Angela--Along with pasta, there's the idea of flinging your dirty underwear against the wall... I think that one might be more apt in this situation. ;)

I like the idea of March being the "spray it everywhere" month. Thanks.

Renee--However, if a full ms is requested and is rejected, you know the editor/publisher had every chance to engage in your writing... and your ms just sucks. (I know that's not true, but that's the way I feel initially when I get a rejection.) When they only see a partial, you can console yourself with the thought that they didn't get to see the full story arc, that they didn't get into the whole rhythm of the piece, etc. I've read enough of your writing to KNOW that your YA novel--or anything else you write in the future--WILL find a home.

Cathy--Thanks for the encouragement. I'll celebrate after I lick my wounds a bit. ;)

Sue--Yeah, it's a number game. A game that involves big numbers. I'm catching on...

Margo--I barely have the energy to grade papers and stay awake til 9:00 most nights. Do I have the energy to publish it myself? We'll see...

Linda O'Connell said...

As long as you have options...and you do, you have hope. Never give up hope because of someone else's opinion. Your story will see light of day. PERSIST. It is a matter of finding the right publisher. You will.

Val said...

The hard part is done. It's written! Keep submitting!

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