Rejection letters are funny

Back on Valentine’s Day 2002, my husband bought me a copy of Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life. It’s filled with Schultz cartoons of Snoopy trying with no success to be a world-famous novelist. But there’s great advice by world-famous writers in it as well. The book stayed in my bookshelf along with many other books about writing, grammar, etc. until about 3 years ago when my daughter discovered it, and found Snoopy’s attempts at writing, and the subsequent rejection letters to be hysterical. Since then, if I want the book, I have to go to her bookshelf. She liked the rejection letters so much, that she started penning a few of her own, and leaving them on my desk, or in my notebooks, or on top of my laptop. And since they were sufficiently scathing, I thought she might have a real career in the publishing industry as an agent or editor (even though she’s mathematically inclined, and I’m holding out hope for something in the science field).

So this weekend, when she pulled the book out again and started reading the cartoons out loud, cracking up as she went, I started thinking about some of the rejection letters I’ve gotten recently and how they make me fall into hysterics… or hysteria…

I enjoyed taking a look at [title of manuscript]–it is a fun and unusual take on the usual [subject] books.  Unfortunately, however, we are still unable to offer representation.  The picture book market is very challenging right now, and this has forced us to be even more selective in taking on new clients so that we can focus our efforts on the work of our current authors and illustrators. We appreciate the opportunity to read more of your work and would love to see more from you in the future.
I loved this picture book manuscript, but I’ve been struggling so much with the un-illustrated manuscripts I already represent that I’m going to (reluctantly) pass. Best of luck with this, it’s fantastic.
Here’s an old one from my daughter:
Thank you for your latest submission. We are dying to publish your story. April fool!
(This was accompanied by peals of laughter from another room as I read it. So it’s not just fun for me. It’s fun for ALL!)
And here are some famous author rejection letters:
“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.” — rejection letter for George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM.
“I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”
“It would be extremely rotten taste, so say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.” –rejection letter for Hemingway’s TORRENTS OF SPRING
If you’re interested in more rejection letter trivia, here’s a good blog post that I found on the subject.

Healing after rejection

If you witnessed my little breakdown yesterday, thanks for tolerating it. If you commented on Facebook, Twitter, via email or on this blog, THANK YOU.

It’s pretty rare that I whimper publicly, or post anything extremely personal. But yesterday, I felt at the end of my rope, a place I seem to be returning to regularly of late, so I feel the need to explain: This was no regular rejection letter. This rejection came after an initial pass on my manuscript, but with an invitation to do rewrites. I reworked the manuscript for months, resubmitted it, and then waited nearly three months for a response, for a total of nine months before this “no.”

The letter was extremely gentle, but still hurt like #%&@.

And it got me wondering… how do you heal after a rejection?

1) Gather your writing friends. Hearing that they’ve been there, done that is helpful. Misery loves company, if only to remind you that you’re not alone. Family can be helpful too, but sometimes hit or miss. My mother likes to point out how many rejections J.K. Rowling got. Then she tells me to self-publish, and that’s followed by, “just put it out of your mind.” Well-meaning? Absolutely. Helpful? Not so much. I love you though, Mom.

2) Give yourself a treat. Life is hard enough even without rejection crap. This is when having your mom in town is especially helpful. After I went sulking  back up to my office, she made accra, which was one of my all time favorite things to eat when I was a child. Still is.

3) Be real. This is no time to try to be noble and think you should be above comparisons to other writers, or beyond wanting acceptance. What else are you going to measure yourself against, if not the achievements of others? Plus, you’re not writing in your journal. You’re writing to make books. Acceptance is the crux of the thing. Everyone wants to be accepted! So give yourself a break and save being noble for another day. You’re human. Feel your feelings.

4) Go ahead and get angry. For me, that was the impetus to do some research and send out a couple of new queries. For you that might look like screaming at the top of your lungs. You do what you gotta do.

5) Move on. I ended the day, still not feeling great, but working on a new manuscript. Today I feel better, and tomorrow I’ll be better still. The thing to remember is: this too shall pass.

Monday mashup

Publishing news! All in one place! You’re welcome!

Probably a favorite among all my teacher friends who have gathered massive libraries over the years: reports that book owners have smarter kids. Though it’s not so much that they’re smarter, but they stay  in school longer.

Speaking of home libraries for kids, I came across Pride and Prejudice for infants. Cute, but why? I’m not sure how Mr. Darcy appeals to babies who still like to gum their books. There’s Romeo and Juliet too. How do they handle the poison?

Maybe more babies reading classics will create more child geniuses. Until then, has a list of the 10 greatest literary child geniuses. They include favorite characters from classic kid lit, like Charles Wallace, but the commenters seem to think they’ve missed quite a few. Check it out.

The Well-fed black writer talks about how to use your book to promote your book! Some ingenious writer found a way to imbed a Tweet button in her ebook which means that the book’s readers can promote it with one click from the book itself. Now THAT is smart marketing.

Another smart move for writers is networking with other writers. According to Julie Anne Lindsay, there are great benefits to networking with fellow colleagues. Writers like supporting their fellow colleagues, so it only stands to reason that they’d help you support your book. I know I would!

One great advantage to networking with fellow writers is to commisserate over the misery when things don’t go your way, and have people to high-five you through the good stuff when they do (does that happen?) like how hearing that THE HELP was rejected by 60 agents before Kathryn Stockett found someone to take her and her story on.

One writer who was published 6 years ago (like me!) talks about how book marketing has changed in such a short time. What do you need to do now that you didn’t need to do then? Um, everything?

With  all the new publishing ventures out there, how do agents and booksellers feel about Amazon’s foray into the publishing business? Is it good for them? For books? It seems that everyone’s being polite and waiting to see what happens, but there’s tension just beneath the surface. Interesting.

And finally, some fun stuff… one of my favorite stores, Anthropologie is shilling desk supplies. I like the giant notebook. I dare you to fill a notebook like that. I also like the desk, but whose desk looks like this?

And I love this poem about knit brows, not to mention the pictures of hairy eye-toppers that goes with it. Yikes!

The Mashup

Happy Monday, everyone, it’s publishing news time!

As if the publishing world wasn’t already tough for authors, new books now have to get traction even faster. Indigo Books and Music in Canada is changing its returns policy to re-evaluate a book’s sales after 45 days. Which means, that if your book isn’t selling well in that time, it may be returned. Oh the dreaded pulping. Ouch.

Have an iPad? Want to make it into your primary writing device? Well, Novel Publicity has some tips for you. I’m still waiting for an app that allows me to use Microsoft Word. Even drool-worthy tablets like the Motorola Xoom don’t have Word which is one reason I’m still sticking with my laptop. Because so far, none of those word processing apps have all of the capabilities of a good word processing program. App fail!

Are you on Google+ yet? You can find me here. And if you have a gmail account you no longer need an invite, so why not come on over and start making circles. Don’t know what those are? Overwhelmed yet? (I was) but Robert lee Brewer has some tips for you Google+ing writers.

If you doubt the power of the almighty social media to help market your book, you only need to look at the success of one particular writer, who has used his twitter followers to propel his unfinished book to #1 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Of course he managed to get all of those followers from his remarkable debut novel, but still, that’s pretty impressive.

Agent Rachelle Gardner broaches the subject of why you’re getting all those rejection letters. It’s mostly about volume.

Natalie Whipple discusses why the internet is scaring the heck out of her lately: it’s all about how much honesty she can muster and the repercussions. I discussed similar in a blog post about truth in book reviews and I agree. People can react unpleasantly, and I don’t want any part of it.

One of my favorite Twitter-folk, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, discusses the right way to get blurbs for your book, over at Nathan Bransford’s blog. One tip: mind your manners. You wouldn’t believe how many times people forget that one.

And just how do you create cover art for your book? They talked about it over at Warrior Writers. If you’re doing some jacket art design on your own, please give me a heads up and I’ll link to it here. I love seeing what people do with their covers.

Finally, if you’re new to the world of picture books, Twitter’s Literaticat has an  excellent list of things you really need to know.