The Da Vinci Code of Editorial Letters

So we pick up my 'how I got published story' in the summer of 2008. Shortly after sending out two new queries, I received a lengthy rejection/ediorial letter from another established Canadian publisher, let’s call them Publisher ‘B’. There was a page of what they loved and then the inevitable line: “…the only thing that’s preventing us from publishing it is….” This time it was that the plot didn’t "unfold organically and intuitively." What did that mean? It only made me think of tomatoes. 

This became typical of rejection letters from agents and publishers. A couple of paragraphs about how much they loved it and then the word ‘but.’ This would be followed by a couple of paragraphs of suggested changes. While an enviable position to be in as a writer – getting feedback from an editor – the Da Vinci Code would have been easier to crack. 

In order to handle the rejections I came up with a rule. I would give myself 24 hours to rant and rave, gnash my teeth, shake my fist at the world, phone every friend I had and read the rejection to them, and send it to all my writing friends asking for their interpretation. Then I would move on and get over it. I realized that a manuscript is never finished until it is between two covers. Thinking a manuscript is finished when you send it out will lead to frustration and disappointment.   

That summer I entered a query-writing contest on the blog Buried in the Slush Pile. It's the blog of an editor who works for the U.S. publisher Children’s Brains are Yummy (CBAY). The prize was that the editor, who usually only accepts agented submissions, would accept an un-agented submission. I was one of the winners so I knew that my query letter was solid.  
Next post: "Hello rock, let me squeeze in between you and that hard place." 


Terresa said…
After reading The time traveler's wife recently, the author said it was rejected 27 times. That gives me hope. If a best seller can be rejected that many times before someone sees it for what it is (brilliant), I hope to be brave enough to stand up to as many rejections before giving up. ;)

Chin up, keep the faith. Cheers!
Angie said…
I get those, "It's good but..." rejection letters all the time. I suppose it's a step up from form letters, but still...

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