"... the story just didn't come together in a way I had hoped it would.”This could sure be more specific. It could mean that your resolution didn't resolve what the editor felt was the real conflict; it could mean that the strong elements of your writing weren't applied evenly in the manuscript. It could mean almost anything.
"Unfortunately, although I enjoyed this I’m afraid it feels a little too familiar. We are publishing a book that is similar called [title] this summer and I’m afraid this isn't quite unique enough for us to publish as aggressively as we’d like.”This probably means just what it sounds like. Publishers have to try hard to keep their books different enough from each other so that bookbuyers can't say, 'oh, I don't need that book, I have your other book about that.'
"It's a fun idea and I especially enjoyed some of the moments between mc and mc, but I’m afraid it’s not right for our list right now.”Praising the idea rather than the writing is usually a sign that the writing wasn't something the editor wanted to praise.
"You have sweet faces and a good family unit and theme at the core but at least for me the text still needs to be refined. I like the style and the feeling but not the story at hand."
This is a nice way of saying, "start over."
"Very clever, but not right for us. Good luck!"This means nothing.
Here's one that puzzles me ... In a couple of cases, I've received several encouraging, complimentary rejections on my picture book manuscripts from oneThere are pros and cons to having a semi-personal relationship with editors. It may get you a pass to send email submissions; it may get you personal rejections. But after a certain number of trys and misses, it's going to mean your submissions are met with rolled eyes and sighing. It's probably time to try another editor.
editor. By the third or so letter, the editor will say sorry we can't publish this and ask if I have "anything longer." I don't.
I do, however, have other picture book manuscripts. Judging from their catalogs, these editors are publishing their share of picture books (and often from new authors). Should I move on to another editor at the same house? Or is that rude when someone has put the time into sending personal rejections? Clearly, these editors are sending me a hint but I'm not sure what to do with it.