Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Close But No Cigar - the good rejection

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Today's email brought a good rejection from the publisher that was looking at Draperwood, my postapocalyptic medieval romance novella. Non-writers may now be scratching their heads and asking why I said "good rejection." Doesn't that mean they're not buying it?

If we're talking strictly binary, yes. This was not a sale, but neither was it my own first page returned with "no" scrawled on top in pencil. (True story, and current title holder for my weirdest rejection ever.) It was, however, a good rejection because it was personal. The editor started with what they liked about this story (the whole postapocalyptic medieval aspect, the way I described the post-plague devastation, the independent heroine and that she and the hero did get a HEA after each having lost absolutely everything, as well as my voice and writing style.) Then a concrete list of what didn't work for them and why. In this case, the editor would have liked more of a connection with the characters, and deeper use of emotion.

I can do all those thing. So, this means that I get to blast Ben Folds music through my headphones and whine to my critique partners via email until lunchtime, then start sending the ms out their way for input and to get ready for the next round of edits.

The neat thing about a good rejection is that it gives specific advice from exactly the sort of person we want to please about how to make the story even better. Which I can do. I love writing emotion. Anytime I can dig deep into the character's guts and share that with the readers, I'm in my element. Looking back, I think I may have held back due to the shorter length of this piece. I am looking forward to the chance to go deeper and spend more time with John and Aline and their journey from devastation to HEA. Not that there won't be times I want to smash my head against the desk or that I'm not disappointed that this submission wasn't "the one" for this story, but that only means I get to make the story better and the right publisher is still out there. Hey, I'm going to get to see a few of them at CORW's September workshop, so time to pound keys.

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