Sunday, July 25, 2010
Are Agents and Editors Really Dying to Reject You?
After a rejection or two, you began to imagine agents and editors as predators, pouncing on their piles of queries, shouting in triumph as they snatch yours out of the slush then gleefully stuff yet another rejection into your waiting SASE.
Now that you're a pro at rejection, you've developed a healthier response to it. You've learned to mock the agents and editors who dare pass over your sublime writing. You place the blame squarely on them, thinking, "Sheesh, they must be completely out of touch or unconscious if they're rejecting My Wonderful Work!"
Hmm. Maybe you're right. Next time you receive a cold, impersonal rejection, consider this…
A well-known editor who had already published three of my works invited me to submit a story for her newest anthology. Knowing this editor’s likes and dislikes fairly intimately, I wrote what I thought was a spot-on story she couldn’t turn down. And since the anthology was “by invitation only,” I figured there couldn’t be too much competition.
On a Monday, shortly after I sent in the story, I received a form rejection. One sentence, quite rude even by normal rejection-letter standards. The signature was even stamped on. Because of our past professional relationship and because this story had been sent at her request, I thought at least a hand-scribbled “no thanks” would have been in order.
The next day I ran across an obituary for my editor. She had been admitted to the hospital the past Thursday where she lapsed into a coma. She died on Saturday. My rejection letter was dated Friday. I was devastated. All I could think was that my beloved editor had hated my story so much she had roused herself from her coma on Friday with the single thought that she must reject my story if it was the last thing she did. I can hear her rasping, “Must reject Phoenix's story … must ... reject …” Then, moments after thrusting the rejection letter into her assistant’s hand to mail off, lapsing back into a coma, only to die the next day.
Not quite a rejection from beyond the grave, but it does make you wonder how many editors and agents really are in a coma when they reject your brilliant work.
Do YOU have a favorite rejection story to share?