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Rapid (And Patronizing) Rejections
When a Literal Literary Loser Gets Back on the Horse
You’ve heard of Rapid Response Covid Tests?
Today, we’ll be talking about Rapid Rejections.
As in really, really rapid. One agent managed to reject my query within the hour. That, I must say, was impressive.
It’s been a long time since I’ve queried either agents or publishers. I sold my first book, “The Fictitious Marquis,” in 1994 without an agent, and every agent I’ve had since (see my list of literary abandonment) has come through a direct recommendation.
So, I admit, I may be a bit rusty. As I entered 2022 without either an agent or a publisher, I resolved to roll up my sleeves, check my ego at the door, and query both agents and small, independent publishers.
Unlike back in 1994, when I had hardly any writing credits to my name and was focusing on the originality of the manuscript I’d written, this time around, I spent two paragraphs describing my manuscript, and four paragraphs outlining my previous publications - which included two New York Times best-sellers - as well as my promotional experience.
I’ve been doing an average of one book talk a week for “The Nesting Dolls,” since it first came out in July 2020, and have built up an extensive contact list of Jewish Community Centers, Sisterhoods, libraries, immigrant groups and historical fiction book clubs. That is currently my biggest unique selling proposition. I market aggressively.
Ultimately, a book is a book is a book. No one has any idea which title (especially when it comes to fiction) will sell. (Anyone who tells you differently is lying - either to you or to themselves.)
No one can promise that their offering will be a best-seller. But you - or, well, in this case, me - CAN promise an extensive, self-directed promotional push.
When it came to querying agents and editors in 2021, I was selling myself much more than I was selling a particular project.
Some rejections were rapid. Some were boilerplate, and some were very polite, mostly telling me that that they already had clients writing in that particular genre, or that they thought the historical fiction market was over-saturated.
But there was one rejection that didn’t so much upset me - after thirty years of writing professionally, I am way, way beyond feeling upset - as it… confounded me.
Here it is in its entirety - with identifying details removed:
Thank you so much for submitting your book to (redacted) for publishing consideration!
We appreciate your initiative and dedication!
I feel so awful to let you down but our editor has decided not to publish your book right now.
I’m sure we’ll be kicking ourselves later when it becomes a best seller.
Please feel free to bookmark this email and let us know when you do publish it and we would be more than happy to share your success story on social media.
Due to the volume of submissions, I can't provide specific feedback on your manuscript, but we have a detailed article explaining the most common reasons why we reject fiction for a publishing deal. I hope this helps!
You may also find our free guide to finding a publisher helpful as well as you pursue other opportunities to publish your book.
And here's one last thing that may might help—it's our detailed blog post on all the different ways you can publish a book including resources and guides to help you whether your heart is set on traditional publishing or not.
Good luck and we wish you all the best with your writing career and all your future endeavors!
To your success!
I don’t mind being rejected (rapidly or otherwise). I do take a wee bit of offense at being patronized.
Now, I realize that all the redirection to various publishing pages on their website proves that this outfit isn’t quite as traditional as they’d like aspiring authors to think they are, which means that I definitely dodged a bullet. (I will try all sorts of innovative things when it comes to publishing, but I will never, ever send a penny directly to the publisher. That is a line I will not cross.)
But do they really need to address authors like they are complete idiots? Do they need to be quite so condescending? What is their objective by taking this (unprofessional) tone? Does it make them feel better about themselves. Do they think it’s more likely to get me to buy editorial and “hybrid” services from them?
Am I wrong? Have I been out of the querying business for so long that this is now a common way to communicate? Does this response strike anyone else as… off?