Years ago, when I was submitting to traditional publishing houses, before self-publishing became acceptable, I had my fair share of rejections. However, they weren’t how I’d imagined them to be. I thought I’d either get no response, or a scathing review that, reading between the lines, would show their vitriol that I even bothered submitting to them in the first place.
Of course, there were plenty that didn’t respond to my submission, but no vitriol. And there were as many publishers who took the trouble to thank me for my submission, saying my book ‘was good, but not right for them’. In some respects, this was worse than nothing at all, for the multitude of questions left unanswered. Why wasn’t it right? What were they looking for? How could I improve my book so it was right? I didn’t expect a free, detailed critique, but I wanted to know – on a commercial level – why my book wasn’t what they were looking for. Some hints, a few words…anything.
I’d done my homework with the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and only sent my manuscript out to those within my genre, and I followed publishers’ specific submission guidelines. So, although my book was ‘right’ on a logistical/submission level, it wasn’t right at the same time – for reasons I wasn’t privy to.
After spending years on the other side of the fence, having moved from author to publishing works by others, I can see why it’s not feasible to have given me what I needed if the business needs to run efficiently. I can also see why it’s not the publisher’s job to give a critique, because many of the reasons a manuscript is rejected are not within the author’s control. Plenty are nothing to do with the author at all!
Rejection is never personal, and commonly, not a reflection on the quality of your writing or story at all. There are so many things going on behind the scenes.
Developmental editor and publishing consultant Diane Hall is the author of three books; she has also ghost-written books for others and created a plethora of content, on more subjects than you could care to imagine, for numerous clients since the beginning of her career. She is proud to have fundamentally shaped series of books and more than a hundred individual titles over the last decade with various authors, nationally and internationally.
Among her editing qualifications, she holds a linguistics diploma, which involves the study of language and speech. Diane employs this knowledge in the forensic linguistic work she sometimes undertakes.
Diane has seen the introduction and subsequent rise of self-publishing, and passionately keeps abreast of its disruption of the publishing industry. She is a thought leader when it comes to the future of book marketing, fuelled by the poor results authors see when employing traditional techniques.