Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How to handle "No"

It was bound to happen one of these times. Eventually, in my career as a writer, I would be rejected by a publisher.

And so I was.

Last week.

For the first time, the answer was "no".


It was the kindest of rejections. The sort I suppose, if an author was going to get rejected, is the kind of rejection she would want to get (hows that for an oxymoron?).

They "liked the writing" (the only feedback I received on the book itself), but they want to focus on historical fiction. Mine was oh so very contemporary. Very. No way I could just slap some long skirts on the women, have the men smoking cigars after dinner and call it a period piece. Just wasn't gonna happen.

So, what did I do?

First thing I did was pout. But I was alone when I did that, so no one knows about that.

Oh. Dang. I guess they do now.


The second thing I did was write the publisher back (via e-mail) and thank her (yes, you read that right) for getting back to me and letting me know the editors' decision. I kept it brief (the entire e-mail was three sentences) and positive. I said "perhaps our paths will cross again in the future".

This positive approach to rejection will help me in the long run. The publishing world is small. Everyone knows everyone. While I was sad that a door was closed, I knew it was possible that this publishing house may one day be interested in one of my books. Even if they never are, I'm glad I was able to handle the rejection with some morsel of aplomb.

And was my etiquette noticed?

You bet.

Not thirty minutes after I replied the publisher e-mailed me back, on her private e-mail (thus she was speaking to me "off the record") and encouraged me in my search for the right publisher. It was a kindness I didn't expect in this 'dog-eat-writers" world. And it buoyed up my courage to send queries out to six other publishers and agents.

As Scarlett said, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

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