Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The art of the rejection

My new book is ready, and two weeks ago I emailed four literary agents to try to entice them to read it. I knew when I did this that the chances of success were infinitesimal, not because I can't write, and not because you guys aren't going to enjoy reading the book, but because the novel is not sexy in marketing terms.

Yesterday I had my first rejection. Rejections are two a penny and I know the format now. A short paragraph of guff, and then a sign off, wishing you luck. I've always hated the paragraph of guff, wondering why they bother. And when I open an email from an agent I've approached, I immediately skip to the last line to save my nerves. I knew yesterday's was a rejection because the last line said 'We wish you all the best for the future.' But this rejection didn't have a paragraph of softening guff above it, there was only one line: 'Many thanks for your email and material but I'm afraid we're going to pass.'

And I felt dismissed. It's that phrase: 'we're going to pass' that pissed me off. It's so trivialising. It sounds as if they're responding to an offer of a biscuit. I now recognise the value of guff. Give me guff. I want guff! 

By the way, the two last readers of the novel loved it, so I know you will too. When I've got all my rejections in, Dave's going to format it for me and then I'll publish it. I have no hopes of getting a publishing deal, but there are worse things happening in the world than a mid-list author having to self-publish her novel.

And Spring is knocking on the door.


Christine said...

Yes, bring on the guff! So rude!

Phoebe said...

My friend couldn’t get a really interesting memoir published when the marketing people overruled the editorial department! So I am not surprised here. For myself - bring it on yourself as I really want to read it.

Anonymous said...

Ditto - similarly looking forward to that pleasure.

The agent's style speaks to a lack of manners, empathy, elegance...or maybe just plain years on the planet.
They sound about 15 - no wonder your story didn't grab their attention!


Sue Hepworth said...

I knew you guys would understand. It isn’t the rejection. I am not thin skinned and can take those just fine, it was the casual dismissal of two years hard work and creativity.

Lois said...

Money Box Live today at 3.00pm on Radio 4 was about writers' struggles to publish and earn. Perhaps it's worth a listen. So sorry for your disappointment.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, Lois. I shall be catching up with that programme.