I apologize for the length of time it’s taken for us to respond to your submission. I’m writing to let you know that we’re ultimately not able to make a publication offer for your MS. Our list is very small, and we receive so many more manuscripts than we could ever publish. This means we have to make hard choices, and after much deliberation, our editorial team has decided that your manuscript is not the right fit for our list.
I’m so sorry to not be writing with better news after all this time, and I wish you all the best in finding a good home for your work.
A typically worded rejection letter. It arrived at almost 10:PM my time in the middle of a baseball game. In the middle of an inning when the teams were changing positions and I took a few seconds to check my email. I glanced at it and laughed. I had to because it had been exactly 22 months since I had submitted the manuscript to this publisher. Almost two whole years. I had figured they had rejected it after the first year had passed. It is not unusual for submissions to disappear into Neverland without any response these days. So I have to admit that I did appreciate the eventual response.
This is what I sent them two years ago:
Dear publisher, (Just consider the publisher’s name as being redacted)
Re: Cramps And Other Rants From A Sometimes Crazy Angry Bitch
Cramps And Other Rants From A Sometimes Crazy Angry Bitch is a work of creative nonfiction that I am submitting for your consideration. It is complete at just over 48,600 words
Part memoir, part personal essay, part rant, the manuscript consists of a collection of linked essays that tell very personal stories. They reflect a variety of women’s issues and are narrated in an engaging manner that people of any age and demographic can relate to and enjoy.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not young. I don’t consider myself old, but I’m certainly older than the team of people whose photos grace your website. I am retired from my day job and currently developing a blog that I hope to have up and running very soon. My experiences may not all be recent; but to be honest, many of these issues haven’t changed much.
A graduate of The Humber School for Writers, my fiction has been published in various Canadian literary journals as summarized in the attached CV. My Short Story Collection, Prerequisites For Sleep, was released in October 2014. The title story was also included in Canadian Content Seventh Edition, 2011. In 2010, I was awarded first prize in the Grain short fiction contest.
My manuscript, CV, synopsis and a copy of this letter are attached. Thank you for taking the time to read my submission. I look forward to your response.
Sincerely, Me (Just consider my name as being abbreviated)
Over the years I honed my publisher-pitching skills and became confident in what I sent out to them. Not that it helped much. I have built up a nice collection of rejection letters and emails from both publishers and agents. I have submitted children’s books I wrote when JT was a kid, short stories to hopefully give myself some credibility, a short story collection, which eventually got accepted for publication after many years, a never-to-be-published novel, and my the latest venture that I refer to as my cramps. Constantly being rejected is a long-haul process. I never look at all these letters. I couldn’t even tell you who they came from or how many submissions I actually sent out to begin with. It is is not a collection I dwell on.
Getting published by the publishing industry is not an easy job. It is labour intensive, frustrating and exhausting. And really, I have decided that it is not important in my life right now. There was a time when it was. It really, really was. I wanted to be known for something. I wanted to have a legacy. And like everyone else, I wanted fifteen minutes of fame. Of course I don’t know how I would have dealt with that since I hate public speaking, but I hoped I would bloom as an author once I retired. Especially after my short story collection was published. But no, that is not going to happen, and I am ok with it. Actually I am more than ok with it. I have decided that I love the instant gratification of blogging. The process of writing and publishing with less words and in small increments of time. It doesn’t matter that my writing is reaching a tiny audience. And believe me, my audience is pretty tiny. What matters is that I am enjoying what I am doing.
However, you will note that I entitled this blog Possibly The Last Rejection Letter. This is for a very good reason. I am a terrible liar. I can also be fickle. So if, in the future, I decide to dust off one of my rejected manuscripts and send it out again or perhaps self publish it, I don’t want my words coming back to bite me in the ass.
Thank you for reading.
Photo: Sergi Kabrera, Unsplash