Another day, another rejection letter.
A good rejection letter is like a fancy razor blade, two strips of aloe on either side of the blades, soothing your skin as it undergoes harshly economical grooming.
My favorite rejection so far went like this: “Thank you for your query for TALES OF THE PACK: LUNATIC FRINGE. Unfortunately, I do not feel I am the right agent for this project. Please remember that publishing is a highly subjective business, and I wish you the best in finding an agent who will have the passion for your work it deserves.”
It starts with a simple thank you and then goes straight for the cut: “Unfortunately, I do not feel I am the right agent for this project.”
This may be the best way to say “thanks but no thanks” ever. It’s not personal nor does it cast blame on outside sources like “the list” or timing.
Then, she wishes me luck of the best kind in a really sweet way. Everyone should find allies to have passion for our work. Even if my query was total crap and she thought the book was terrible, this line still suggests that my art deserves support. How damn kind.
In this letter, I can see that she loves the industry, hates rejecting authors, and believes in writing. I’ve never felt more uplifted after someone telling me “no.”
Today’s letter was less slick, casting blame on the timing.
I think “at this time” may be one of the more grating phrases in a rejection letter, because it indicates that another time would be better, but that’s rarely the case. Most often, a rejection isn’t because of “this time,” it’s because of tastes in general. If you don’t want me to check in with you in six months with the same manuscript, then “at this time” is just soft without substance.
Today’s email ended with “we encourage you to continue editing and querying other agencies.”
Perhaps it’s because I’m ill (I caught something gnarly on my travels and am laid out with crippling fatigue, so I’m feeling a little more sensitive than usual), but seeing that word “edit” made me sigh.
It’s not that I shouldn’t continue editing the book – I know I should. I just so badly want to feel a sense of completion on the writing portion of the book. Continuing to rehash the same story over and over and over again is exhausting. Like a scab that won’t heal- I don’t want to keep picking at it.
I feel that any sense of accomplishment won’t settle in until I begin the next project. I want to finish outlining book 2, but that advice “keep editing” keeps niggling in my ear.
Of course I should keep editing, but I need to know what real people think first, because the editing process has gotten so confusing. I have literally lost perspective on whether the story makes sense at all. I know the prose is good- that part is easy. But damn, I have no idea if this book will make sense to anyone.
Taking a break from the book for the whole of 4 weeks is like taking a break from a relationship- there’s always the chance that you’ll never get back together. As I wait and ponder publishing models, I worry that the reality of this book being anything beyond a print-out on white paper is getting farther away. My impatience is an issue of momentum and a fear of having to start all over again.