Always Act Like a Professional

Rejection bites. Everyone knows this. It brings out the the worst in some – and I’ve been privy to those “worst times.” I don’t like having to write rejection letters any more than you like receiving them. But once they’re written, that’s the end of it for me, because, well, I have a ton more queries awaiting my attention.

So it’s irritating to receive an email from someone I rejected, informing me that my analysis and reasons for rejection are all wrong, and that I’m an idiot. And furthermore, the manuscript won TWO awards and many readers said how much they LOVED the story…and oh, there is a publisher who has accepted the work. I’m truly happy it won writing awards and that readers enjoyed reading the manuscript and that the author has a contract offer. If the author has gotten that contract, then why bother fanning it in my nose? This confuses me.

The fact that it didn’t work for me isn’t a declaration of any lack of talent or unworthiness. That ain’t my call. My call is this: Can I sell it? If there are elements that make me feel it would be a tough sell, then I have an obligation to those who work for me to reject it.

And really, what is the benefit of an author sending me (or any other editor) a letter like this? Is it supposed to make me curl up and cry because I missed the boat? Am I supposed to feel chastised because I was too thick-headed to understand the story’s fabulosity? None of these things happen at my end, and this second-grade nyah nyah makes the author look less than professional.

And that’s the crux of this business – any business, really. Always act like a professional. Rejection hurts, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to fire off a “you suck” email after receiving a rejection. In fact, emails like this make me breathe a sigh of relief that I did reject them. Who needs a loose cannon who flips out at rejection? Can you imagine the fireworks over a bad review? Yikes.

Lastly, it’s letters like this that make me want to return to sending out form rejection letters. Many times I do offer reasons as to why something didn’t work for me as a way of offering the author objective insight from someone who’s been selling books for almost 14 years. Perhaps I’ve seen something the author didn’t, and they can look at their writing with fresh eyes. Or…they can get hurt and lash back.

Either way, authors who write out of anger diminish themselves in a way they don’t even understand. This industry is filled with rejection and tough love. If authors don’t learn that one lesson of grace under fire, then their career will be decidedly short and filled with angst.

Pissed off at a rejection? Eat chocolate.

8 Responses to Always Act Like a Professional

  1. Every job has its crappy side(s). Thankfully you are also able to enjoy writers’ delights with your choices to balance it all. Sniffing apples for a better mood is far less caloric and just as effective by the way.

  2. In my previous life I was a manager for a software company. Occasionally when I’d rejected people after interview they would contact me to tell me I was wrong. Unwittingly proving that they would be a nightmare to manage and therefore I’d made the right choice.
    If I get a rejection I take it on the chin and see if I can improve. Nothing at all to gain by twisiting on about it.

  3. Stephen Kozeniewski says:

    Not to mention why, if you were just starting out, would you want to burn ANY bridges in your brand new industry? Kudos to you for finally finding an agent…but that doesn’t mean you’ll NEVER need something from Lynn or one of her friends or associates ever again. And now they all know you’re a petty jerk. It’s not just bad form, it’s stupid behavior, too.

  4. John Allan says:

    ‘Who needs a loose canon …’ Unless we’re talking of a member of the clergy, this must be a reference to literary excellence – according to the Oxford Dictionary. Given neither is likely, I assume canon should be cannon.

  5. Ha! Yes, it should be cannon. Bless my spellcheck…

  6. What most people don’t know is that this is an achingly small and gossipy industry.

  7. I get far more milege from the many wonderful people I’ve met in my years in the biz. I only discuss the less-stellar experiences as a way of helping those new to the industry, in hopes they’ll avoid the pitfall.

  8. Val says:

    I love your last line!

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