RB: I Reject Your Rejection

READING: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, Book 2) by Cassandra Clare

LISTENING: Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

I’m a little over a week away from my first book coming out and I’m still receiving rejection letters from publishers I submitted to last year.

Why do I feel let down with each letter? Why do they have the power to affect me? Soul Mate Publishing liked my book. It’s definitely the best book I’ve written. It’s even awesome-er (yes, that is a word. I am an author, so I know these things.) since it past through my editor, Cheryl’s, hands.

I had to remind myself that these recent rejections are not Fate’s way of telling me that I suck and everyone will hate my book. It’s just part of the writing process. Many famous authors received rejections before getting signed or self-publishing their novel.

  • Harper Lee for To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Kathryn Sockett for The Help
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery for Anne of Green Gables
  • Beatrix Potter for The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • John Grisham for A Time to Kill
  • Stephen King for Carrie

Stephanie Bond wrote a hilarious response to the numerous rejection letters she received.

Now I’m riding high on the euphoria of selling my first book, Irresistible?, to Harlequin’s Love & Laughter series. But only a few months ago, I was so frustrated after a series of rejections, I sat down to pen my revenge. The following letter was never mailed, but the pleasure of typing it up was keen. I hope other writers can relate to this satirical response to every rejection I ever received:

Dear Editor,

I received your rejection letter yesterday. The letter was very interesting, and free of typographical errors. However, after careful consideration, I have decided your offer of refusal does not meet my writing needs at this time. Therefore, I regret to inform you I must reject your rejection.

Since I receive such a large volume of rejections, it’s impossible for me to comment on each one at length. I can say, however, that there are certain elements of your rejection which simply won’t work. For instance, you said the fact that my hero is a writer would be unappealing to readers. For your convenience, I have enclosed a list of twenty-two books your company published last year in which the hero was a writer. Also you made the comment I didn’t drop enough clues for the reader to expect the twist ending. I contend that is the precise reason it is referred to as a ‘twist ending’.

I wish I had better news for you. Unfortunately, in this highly competitive market, I have to be very selective about which rejections I can accept. If you would like to use my comments to modify your rejection letter, I’d be glad to review it again. Otherwise, I wish you much luck in placing your rejection elsewhere.


Stephanie Bond

Reject Your Rejections by Stephanie Bond. March 1996. Article first appeared in The Galley, a publication of Georgia Romance Writers. Article found on author’s website, http://www.stephaniebondauthor.com/

So I, too, reject your rejection, publishers! It’s too little too late. You no longer have the power to make me feel bad. I am writer, hear me say soon to be published, baby!

4 thoughts on “RB: I Reject Your Rejection

  1. I was an acquisitions editor (non-fiction) for Pearson for about a decade and I wish I could have explained to authors how random acceptance was. We read so many proposals, saw so many manuscripts, heard so many pitches. One year I kept track and I sent out over 500 rejections. My publishing goal for the year was 12 titles. My acceptance rate was lower than Harvard’s — literally, it was easier to get into Harvard than it was to get a book published by me that year (at the height of the dot.com bubble).

    Of the proposals we got, probably half were an easy no: wrong market, poor writing, mistakes in the cover letter, etc. But that leaves a lot of books that we still couldn’t publish. The proposals were good, but we already had books on the subject or we thought the market niche was too small or it was a topic that we weren’t quite sure about yet — lots of reasons, none of which had *anything* to do with the author’s work. Or maybe I’d already acquired two books that week and didn’t want to add another negotiation to my workload or maybe the topic was one that I hated or maybe I was catching the stomach flu and really just needed to get my desk clear so that I could go home…that’s truly the level of decision-making that sometimes went into rejections.

    Really, if we treated the submission process as auditions for spaces on the list, it’d all make more sense. If five actors show up to audition for a role and they’re all fantastic, at the end of the day there’s still only one job and the producers still have to decide who to choose. It doesn’t mean those who weren’t chosen are any less fantastic. Book publishing truly is just like that.

    So don’t let those rejections affect you. Acquisitions editors make hard decisions as quickly as possible and we get it wrong all the time. JK Rowling’s new mystery novel got rejected, too — after writing the best-selling books of all time, at least one editor looked at her work (not knowing it was by her) and said, eh, pass. Oops. But that’s what being an acq editor is like.

    • Wow, Sarah, thanks for that! It certainly does put things in prospective and any future rejections I receive will have even less power to make me feel unworthy of writing-dom. Thank you. -RB

      • I should mention, too — in my case, at least, I took care of the easy No proposals very, very quickly. They didn’t linger on my desk. The ones that took me months were the ones that I kept picking up and thinking, “oh, I don’t know, I need to really think about this, I’ll look at it when I have more time.” I’m sure you can guess how often having more time comes around. Slow rejections are still rejections but they’re also often an indicator of serious consideration, not just the quick rubber stamp.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s