No Right of Reply

Before I became a wannabe-author, I was a wannabe-lawyer.  Or rather, I was a law student.  And the reason I became a law student is because I like to argue!  I enjoy a right to reply.  The idea that one person’s opinion might not be the only answer.

And then I became an unpublished author and realised I had no right to reply!

Because my career, my future and my life-plan currently sit in the hands of a selection of faceless editors.  (I say faceless, but nowadays, thanks to LinkedIn and Google, it’s pretty easy to add faces to the names!)  And those editors are unassailable.  THEIR WORD is the law!

These days any book chosen by an editor for their label will become his or her personal project.  He or she will take on your story, and decide how it needs to be edited.  He or she will be responsible for packaging your story as a gift for the reading world.  And so it is essential that he or she likes.  More than that.  He, or she, needs to LOVE IT!

And the obvious problem with that is that liking or even loving something, is subjective.  One person’s decision whether he loves or hates your work … and all the options in between.

These days authors tend not to submit their own work to editors.  Agents act as a middle-man, sifting through the submissions and selecting the ones they deem ‘publisher-worthy’.  After agent-led redrafts, the agent then submits the book to publishers he or she has handpicked (in the same way the author originally submits his manuscript to agents that he or she has handpicked.

So, with this extra level of selection and direction, you’d think that your work is being sent to people who will generally appreciate it.  However, unfortunately, as I’m gradually learning – one rejection at a time, that’s not always the case!

This week I’ve had a particularly bad week – the lowest point being realising I’d written the wrong date down for the Glee concert I bought tickets to, and only realising on the day I thought I was going (the day after the day I had tickets for! DOH!).  So maybe the rejections I received this week weren’t any harsher than the other 8 I’ve received over the past 7 months … but they definitely stung more than normal.  One rejection questioned the ‘strength’ of my writing, whilst the other one found my main character difficult to ‘truly engage’ with my main character.

Obviously those are both opinions.  Subjective analysis.  And completely different analysis to any of the others I’ve received.  Because everyone’s opinion is obviously different.  (And also, less professionally, because apparently some editors send out set rejection responses!)

But the problem I find every time I get one of these rejections, is they kick up the inner lawyer inside me!  I want to DEFEND myself!  I want to DEFEND my writing!

No one likes rejection!  How many of you have been dumped at some point in your life, and itched for the urge to answer back?  To give your side of the story?  To tell your ex their reasons for ending the relationship were wrong!

The obvious problem with this is that feelings are subjectives.  Your feelings can’t be wrong, because they are your feelings.  They are personal to you.  Completely subjective.  And likewise, the reasons why someone rejects your book are subjective.  They’re not wrong.  They’re just how he or she feels.  The editor’s personal feelings.  It’s not a point for debate.  And as such you get no right of reply.

Which is particularly annoying in this day and age, when you can type in a name and a company into Google and very easily arrive at an email address.  A way to actually reply!

Not that being a sane, aspiring author, you ever would, obviously!

But I guess you can always dream 🙂

And so I guess, getting rejected by a publisher is just one of those situations where you have to take the other option to arguing your case.  Taking the moral upper hand.  And to take that upper hand, you keep your mouth shut, and show them you’re wrong NOT with a ranting email highlighting all the reasons why they’re wrong, but by holding your head up high and trying extra hard with everything else you write, so that one day you’ll be the ‘J.K. Rowling story’.  The writer sticking two metaphorical fingers up at all of the editors who have criticised her work and told her she’d never make it as a writer 😉

C-C xxx



Filed under C-C Lester, Unsigned Author Commentary, Writing

5 responses to “No Right of Reply

  1. As one learning to deal with this rejection thing on a much smaller scale (the short story world), I really appreciated reading this!

  2. I feel your pain… and your frustrated desire to argue back. One agent/editor says the story is good but the characters are weak. The next says the characters are wonderful but the story line is a bore. My most painful rejection (and the one I most wanted to fight!) was by the editor who killed my first novel (a Pride and Prejudice sequel) at the publishing house where it had already worked its way high up the food chain, close to acceptance. She rejected the book because she didn’t like the 3rd person narrative style. I think she missed the point, because Jane Austen (the author of P&P) always used 3rd person narrative style. I would have liked to explain this to her but …

  3. I understand being rejected by publishers but lately I have been finding that it takes persistence to overcome the rejection. I have been picked up by a small publishing house to supply three works. The rejection that I find hard to overcome is finding an agent. Everyone I contact says they are not taking new talent or they are not interested in what I write. How do I hurtle that obstacle or do I really need to worry about it?

    • I think the key to finding an agent is to make sure the people you are targeting are actually agents you want to represent you – they need to understand what you write, and how to publish you – so they need to be agents who specifically represent your kind of fiction. It IS possible to find an agent, even with the economy as it, I think you just have to be persistent, and do your research. Tailor your query to the agent you’re writing to, think about what you need to submit, and make it the best representation of your work – check the spelling and grammar, number and name the pages, and just generally represent yourself in the best light.
      As for whether you need to worry about getting an author? As far as I’m aware, the current ‘expected’ route to becoming published is getting an agent and then they submit your work to publishers because they have the connections and personal relationships with editors.
      Hope that’s helpful – a few months I wrote a post on Getting Represented – you can check that out HERE
      C-C xx

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