I’ll cop to having a crummy memory when it comes to mundane things like where I parked my car, or forgetting to include that important item in my daughter’s Care Package while she’s at grad school…y’know, the very reason why I’m sending the Care Package in the first place. In a word, my brain is like Swiss cheese.
Most of the time.
When it comes to publishing, I’m the elephant. No…I don’t look like one. Oh lord, please tell me I don’t look like one! But I have a memory like an elephant. And really, who thought that up…memory of an elephant? How do they know an elephant has a long memory? Ah, but I digress…where was I? Ah yes! My memory.
See, it’s like this. Most of the time I can remember people who queried me seven years ago. Either their name or their story will ring some bell in my melon, and I’ll go to my folder and look them up to see what I had to say about their work. Very handy. That folder is my golden goody box that holds all my impressions and correspondence with authors whom I rejected.
And some of that correspondence isn’t so flattering to the author. I understand rejection bites the big one, but anyone who retaliates by sending the editor a nastygram is setting some seriously icky karma because once they hit the Send button, thar be no take-backs. You can’t unring a bell, stick a genie back in the bottle, or sober up the beagle. And you can never, never, never deny being insidiously rude to an editor. Your name is affixed to that email for-e-ver.
Welcome to the Land of the Burnt Bridge. You may have forgotten all about the fact that you told an editor to go forth and multiply with the barnyard animal of her choosing – but she is apt to have saved some record of it. Which is what happened to me today. An author whose full I’d read and ultimately rejected seven years ago sent me an email, reminding me of how I’d been less than enamored with her book, and would I please look at it. The long and short of it was her publisher was closing their doors, making her homeless very soon, and would I like to have another bite at her apple.
Hello, golden goodie box, my delicious rejection folder where there are no take-backs. What ho! Oh my! The correspondence we’d shared hadn’t been at all lovey dovey. I read one, two, three of her emails. I couldn’t reject her a second time quickly enough. My hair burned and my teeth itched.
What’s sad that had our correspondence been vastly different, I may have entertained taking another look. But she burned her bridge with me, so she was shown the street faster than the beagle could yelp, “Quiet! I have a hangover.”
When an author bites back about a critique or a rejection, she essentially crosses off someone who could become an asset because at a later date. Quite the contrary, no one with half a firing synapse will look at that same author years later and welcome her with anything less that a grenade launcher and a suggestion she run. Fast.
We know rejection hurts, but that’s the way of the business…the world, really. Not everyone is going to want something you created, and you need to decide what kind of person you want to project to the world. A vindictive simpleton, or a classy professional? Grace under fire, or potty mouth? Just because you were rejected now doesn’t mean there won’t be an open door from that same editor down the line. Or that she may offer to send your work to someone else who might like it.
Don’t burn your bridges because you never know whether that editor you’d like to see as a garbage truck hood ornament now will be an influential advocate to you later on. This is a close-knit community and word spreads around like dry tinder. Make sure people will read your long-lost emails and smile with a warm heart. It’s so much more fun.
As for my long-lost author, the pièce de résistance was when she called me Ms. Behler. All those prior emails, and she calls me Ms. Behler. Hello, Rodney? I’m with you, buddy…this elephant don’t get no respect.