Some of the Best Bad News I Ever Got

>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Whew, so much seriousness. Gotta lighten things up a bit and give you some good news that’s sort of bad news, but really not.

See, some time back, a friend of mine, who happens to be a book editor, recommended I send my completed novel to a very well respected imprint she worked with. The editor of this imprint does not nominally accept unagented submissions, but he agreed to take a look although, from the letter, he wasn’t sure it was the sort of thing he was looking for.

After several months of delays, he finally had a chance to look at the sample chapters and, as he expected, it wasn’t for him. So, it was rejected.

But I maintain it isn’t bad news for several reasons. First, if the book is a bad fit for his imprint, than neither of us will benefit by his trying you shoehorn it where it doesn’t belong. His imprint’s image will not be the same and my book will not be in an environment as well suited to it’s promotion.
Secondly, he said that it was “well-written” and also suggested two publishers for which he thought it was better suited. That is a boon beyond measure. I have some assurance (though he only read an excerpt) that he thinks it might be publishable, but reinforces that notion by making suggestions as to the best options.

One imprint is, indeed, one of my favorite imprints for Fantasy/Science Fiction who, if I hadn’t planned to troll for an agent with the novel before I tried to market it, would have been at the top of my list. And they accept unagented submissions.

I don’t know if it’s a sign but, as my agent trolling has been delayed this long, it doesn’t seem too much trouble to delay it a bit longer and send it in to the other publisher. Worst case, it is rejected and, when I troll for an agent, I’ll have two completed novels with which to entice an agent rather than just one and an unpolished draft. Depending on how long it takes, I might have three.
Best case, I find my niche with this novel. And, finding an agent is much easier with a sold book to your credit. I feel awfully good about this particular rejection.

And I want to thank my friend, who waylaid my original plan, and gave me the opportunity to strengthen my portfolio and find another path. Thanks! You know who you are!


  • The Mother

    I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  • Richard

    Congratulations Stephanie. That is indeed the best of bad news. A rejection with constructive feedback and suggestions of more suitable markets is much better than a form letter. Did he also give you a recommendation that might get your manuscript off the slush pile and into one of the more promising "requested manuscript piles?" That would be huge.

    Hmm... a major Fantasy/SciFi imprint that accepts unagented submissions. TOR? DAW? Or someone else I haven't come across yet?

    Regardless, best of luck with the next submission.

  • flit

    They all need to be published (so that I can have my free autographed copies) LOL

  • Aron Sora

    I would be in a pile of goo right now, if I where you.

    Do agents really read the whole book?

  • Relax Max

    I think you are right about it being for the best if it wasn't a good fit. I hope you keep trying, though.

  • Shakespeare

    I am so glad for you! I hope this turns into something... like Aron, I'd be in a pile of goo right now.

    And Aron, I think, for the most part, the only time the full manuscript is read is if the agent/publisher/editor finds intriguing enough to do so. I'm sure many manuscripts are never read past the first page. That's why the first chapters are so important.

  • Stephanie B

    Agents can read the whole thing, Aron, but they won't if they don't get caught up in the first bit.

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