Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pet Peeve: Faster than a Speeding Bullet Rejection


Rejection—on a requested manuscript--that is
Faster than a Speeding Bullet  

Author Christy McKee
We are writers. Part of our job—the least favorite part for most of us— is querying editors to get our book in front of one of them. After we’ve given birth to our prose, developed multi-faceted characters, created an intriguing plot, revised, buffed and polished, our creation is ready to be sent out into the real world to become a book. We know rejection is likely, and many of us have a wall of them to prove it.  All we need is one editor to read it and give us the nod.  

My book was ready to be sent out and I started taking advantage of every online pitching opportunity to find a publisher.  When an editor contacted me on Monday morning with an enthusiastic email about my book, I sent her the requested synopsis and three chapters by the end of the day and celebrated my good fortune that night with a glass of Riesling. My excitement meter started hovering over happy.   Three days later, the editor contacted me again, asking for the full manuscript which I sent it within the hour. The excitement meter was a hair from “over joyed.”

I wasn’t naïve enough to think I would hear anything back for a while; it was, after all, a 97,000 word manuscript.  After all, editors have stacks of submission emails cluttering their computers, not to mention the virtual six foot high slush pile in the corner. So when I checked my emails in the afternoon, I was amazed to have an email from the publisher.  This time it was the editor’s assistant saying the editor was on vacation and would review the book when she returned in a week. Ok. Even editors deserve a vacation.

The real surprise came the next morning when I received an email from the editor rejecting the book.   How did she find the time  to read it?  She’d   had it for under twenty-four hours. Did she simply decide to clear her desk before she went on vacation? Was I the victim of pre-vacation house cleaning? I tossed my excitement meter into the bottom drawer. The weekend loomed dark ahead of me.

I could handle a rejection, I told my husband.  My collection of them is rather impressive. My gut told me the manuscript had never been read. Saturday morning my husband left me a sweet note before he left for his golf game.  “Send it back out there today.”

Right after breakfast I took his suggestion and sent out it to another publisher.  Within two days I received a request for a full and a week later I got a big fat “yes” to the book.  Of course receiving a faster than a speeding bullet acceptance far out shines the rejection. However, my pet peeve still stands.  Rejections, on requested full manuscripts, that are faster than a speeding bullet, are a more emphatic way of saying “NO” than a timely and subtle “not right for us” rejection. At least you have reason to think someone actually read your work.

It was our own Lea Schizas who gave me the big fat “yes” and the book, Maybe Too Good to Be True, was released by MuseIt Up Publishing in August, 2012.



Terri main said...

My own guess is that the editor probably thought the book idea was good, but then after requesting the manuscript, realized either the schedule was full for the year or someone even higher up said, "We aren't doing that type of book anymore."

I had that happen with a textbook I proposed. The editor was excited about it and I sent in everything requested, but then she got a new boss who decided that the series this would have fit into be discontinued.

You did right, though, getting it back into the mail.

Anita Davison said...

I empathise - I received a personal letter from the acquistions manager of a major publisher who said he loved the book - Yay, then he said, 'If you had sent this to me ten years ago I would have published it immediately - but family sagas aren't popular at the moment.' Aaargh!
Congratulations on your release, Christy.

Christy McKee said...

Terri, You are right. The rejection could have been based on a number of things. I think it was the "lightning fast" reply that shook me up. It is certainly better than no response at all. Thanks for your insight.


Christy McKee said...

Hi Anita,

I guess timing is everything. Maybe the right time will come around again and you can sell it then.

Culloden Spirit was one of my favorite books last year. Great story!

J.Q. Rose said...

I would be a bit suspicious about that rejection, but your hubby was right. Send it out again. Another pet peeve for me is to have a request for a full ms after sending in the first chapters, but never, and I mean never, hearing back again from the editor. How rude.

Christy McKee said...


That same scenario happened to me. I went to RWA National and got a request from an editor for a full. I never heard from her again.

It happens!

Wendy said...

That does seem like an unfortunate brush off, Christy. You have every right to feel peeved. Randon House asked me for my full manuscript, hard copy. They returned it after 4 weeks with a note that even the head of the YA dept had read it, but it wasn't right for them. This was my first ond only rejection and I was gutted. But, I was even more sorry that my story had fallen short of their expectations. I was peeved at myself! Like you, Christy, I polished that ms a lot more before I sent it somewhere else and it was accepted, thank goodness.

anne stenhouse said...

That first scenario does look a bit odd, Christy. Glad the book found its true home with Muse. Mine did, too, after being out in other places. Anne

Rhobin said...

I feel your pain. I once had a manuscript at a major publisher. When I hadn't heard I emailed and heard my manuscript had passed the first reader and gone to an editor. A year later I still hadn't heard a thing. There excuse? They lost the manuscript.

Lin said...

A Christy, Your story sounds like my own over a decade ago, but with a slight difference. I was getting my poetry accepted by my then agent and editor, but I looathe writing pentameter. They said they'd get my first love, writing fiction published, until I sent it to them and got told.."it's crap." That got me to shut down and stop writing everything. Advance over ten year forward. Kat, my daughetr, was writing and dared me to jump feet first into the fray again. Lea was about to start Muse. I wrote a brand new story. Sent it to her late March 28th 2010. Less that four hours MArch 29th got a contract... Told Lea about my former agent and editor, and she bring those stories out of the closet and sub them. In my first year...Forever With You, Twilight Comes, This Time Forever, Champagne Afternoon, Beyond Yesterday, Life's Journey, and The Pendulum Swings came out of the Crap Pile. Lea gives the rest of us wings.