Working out the rejection

Posted: January 27, 2011 in process
Tags: ,

Last May I was fortunate enough to be chosen from the “resource base” and invited to send to Working Partners a sample for a new series they were planning. I’m sworn to secrecy about the series and I didn’t get chosen, but the rejection still puzzles me a little, although it was much more polite than a anonymous rejection slip.

For those who don’t know, Working Partners is an outfit that publishes several series of books (eg Beast Quest, Dinosaur Cove etc) written by one or more authors but planned by a central committee and named with a pseudonym. Some people would hate to write to order and to a given plot, but I have always wanted to do it because I don’t find it a bother.

So there was my dream finally offered to me (and half a dozen other prospectives). And it went wrong. Having planned how it would all go if I were taken on, I then didn’t have to do it, so in that respect it was like preparing thoroughly for a job interview and then having to go back to the old one. Very sad.

But let’s get back to the actual rejection. Because I wrote something pretty good. Honest. They said so. So the couple of niggles they named, after praising me, made it harder to accept – because you know what? They were all simple to overcome, but I wasn’t given a chance. Let me give you an example.

Apparently, once or twice, the atmosphere was too scary. They cited “icy shiver” and “tinkling eerily” and “her face went white”. In a 2,000 word sample, I thought that just helped make the comparison (at the point where something went wrong) with all the frivolity that was requested and the “solving” that would happen later. I thought 5s-8s could cope with that. I was wrong! But I wouldn’t have needed telling twice. And you couldn’t have guessed that from the sparse instructions.

The other thing was one word they thought not suitable for 5s-8s (out of 2,000 words again).

Now, had I been the editor picking, if I’d really liked something as much as they said they did, I would have made those two criticisms secure in the knowledge that the writer would take the guidance and not commit such errors again! And then given them the job.

Which leads me to the awful truth that the rest of the email feedback was probably not true.

And what am I meant  to do with this beautiful piece of writing languishing in my virtual filing cabinet? I can’t rewrite it for someone else as you might with a short story – the subject matter was so specific.

Oh well. I’ll live. But sometimes I think a blank rejection slip is less problematic. Less sad. Less final.



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