Professionalism in the Face of Rejection

I recently had to reject a couple of very good projects for reasons other than quality of the writing. I hate it when I have to do that. I wish I had a budget that would allow me to publish every good manuscript that came across my desk. Sigh.

Most of the time, I do not receive a response when I reject a manuscript. I really do not expect, or even want, a response. But these were unique cases where I talked to them on the phone because I wanted to make sure they knew that they had a top-rate submission and it was my lack of resources and not their writing that was causing me to reject.

Both of these authors were very, very professional in their interaction with me—polite, friendly, understanding. They didn’t fawn or suck up, but spoke to me intelligently and confidently. One of them mentioned some selling points for their book, that perhaps I had overlooked. I hadn’t, but that was fine. The tone was very professional and it was obvious they understood the industry.

Both authors made a big impression. Will I remember them? You bet! Will I recognize their names on future submissions? Certainly! Will I grab their submission off my slush pile and read it ahead of everything else? Absolutely!

As opposed to a few others who have sent me nasty letters and e-mails because I rejected them. Or those who have made it clear that I’ve just made the biggest mistake of my professional career and now they’re moving on to make some other publisher rich beyond their wildest dreams. I’ll remember them too—as people who are mean and unprofessional and have no clue what they’re talking about. These are authors I probably do not want to work with even if they sent me the next DaVinci Code.

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