If you’ve been writing for any length of time – 20 minutes or so – you’ve seen ’em. Maybe you’ve accumulated a whole stack of ’em. What do I mean? Well, the Dreaded, “Your submission does not meet our editorial needs at this time….” Rejection Letter.
These letters are the “Dear John” writer equivalent of taking one on the chin. Is there anything worse for a writer?
Answer: Yes. Let me explain.
About a year ago-ish I queried a “reputable” publisher specializing in both digital and print publishing about an idea I had for a novella based on the topic of spiritual abuse. They gave me a green light to submit the full mss. I did. Awhile letter I received a “Letter of Acceptance” from the head honcho and a contract, etc.
‘Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…’
Knowing that the path from acceptance to finished, ready-for-market book can be a long one, I waited. And waited while said “process” moved with the speed of a growing redwood.
Hearing not a word about the status of my magnum opus after many moon, I grabbed “the bull by the horns” and inquired. Nothing. Inquired again. Was told that “We are closed to new submissions at this time so we can focus our efforts on our current authors.” I thought that ‘focused effort’ included yours truly.
So I waited. And waited some more. I didn’t want to nag, but this novella was far too brilliant to keep my adoring public waiting much longer.
Long story short: The last communication I received from said publisher (who shall remain nameless) was that the organization had “gone through some major restructuring over the past several months” and that I was “lost in the cracks during this time.”
Then the kicker: “We are no longer publishing fiction, but thank you for submitting your novella and for your patience during this time.”
And just when were you planning to convey this teensy-weensy train derailment?
Here I was, being “patient during this time” – approximately a year – while they were tossing my baby under the bus.
Just in case you’re wondering, there is something worse than a “Dear John” letter: an acceptance letter that’s meaningless.
Bad News/Good News
The bad news? I get to start the process all over again from square one. The good news? I get to start the process all over again from square one. (That’s not a typo.)
Maybe this is one of those “blessings in disguise” deals, where the fit may not have been as good as it appeared to be. And I learned from the process. Like if a publisher is evasive, non-responsive or otherwise disengaged, run!
Have you had a similar experience? What did you learn from it?
In the meantime, anyone have a spare Tylenol?