Sunday, October 19, 2008

Regretfully, This Means Nothing

Dear Editorial Anonymous,
Can you translate this from editor-speak to writer-speak? What does it mean when an editor tells you they're turning down your manuscript "with regret"?
Nothing.

Listen, I understand the impulse to parse rejection letters, as pointless as it is. Look, they aren't a pan of gravel in which you might find a flake of gold if you examine every piece of grit. They're hastily-written letters, so what's there is there.

Think of it this way:
option 1: The editor really wants to get something across to you.
Editors are verbal people. If they want to communicate something, they will.

option 2: The editor is not trying the get something across to you. This could be because she just doesn't want to go into why she's rejecting the manuscript, or because she's actively avoiding being blunt enough to tell you why. Either way, editors are verbal people. If they want not to communicate something, they won't.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

EA, this might be a lost cause.

Right now, every writer is reading your Options 1 and 2 and trying to read between their non-existent lines... as in, what do you think this editor not wanting to communicate with me about this ms meant? Is it a GOOD not wanting to communicate or a BAD not wanting to communicate...

Writers, we are neurotic and have vivid imaginations.

Anonymous said...

I just read the word "rejectomancy" for the first time.... boy, can I relate.

Doughboy said...

I'm a big fan of 'regretfully, this does not fit on our list'.

It's like you posted em a doggy do & they wish you'd just take it back. But after all, it's probably 85% of a rejection cos it's just plain not good enough & 25%* not their style...

* Personally, I always give it 110%

The Crystal Faerie said...

I always look at the 'regretfully' as a polite, goodwill kindof thing.

kinda like 'hey, this isn't our deal but maybe someone else will take it'

Like how you say "I'm sorry but we aren't interested" to telemarketers.

david elzey said...

So, when the editors and agents say "Dear" at the beginning of their letters -- as in "Dear Writer" -- it isn't really a term of endearment? I am crushed, crushed I say, to learn of such bitter truths.

Regards,

azang said...

So, what does it mean when the editor sends a fast food application back with your manuscript? Does it mean they want to see more?

bfsandefur said...

Sometimes it pays to write back and question ~ ask for a second chance to get it right. My first magazine article was published because I asked the publisher "Why?" and "How?"

He told me what he wanted. I complied. :-)

Anonymous said...

The magazine and children's books industries operate very differently (I know this firsthand). I'd love to hear from anyone who had the above advice work for them in children's publishing. However, I suspect that questioning a children's book editor's rejection will be met with an understandably pointed (highly annoyed???) silence.

EA should be the last word, of course, but I would seriously hesitate to take this advice.

azang said...

I agree with Anon directly above. bfsandefur, kudos to you for taking a chance and it working out for you, however you were working with a magazine and there are differences. I don't think that same tactic would work in kid publishing, there are too many reasons for rejection. Attend conferences and talk with editors, more importantly listen. If you're going to take a chance, be sure it's an educated one.

writtenwyrdd said...

Seems obvious, doesn't it. But sometimes we writers need our noses rubbed in the reality.

Loved the panning for gold metaphore.

Colorado Writer said...

A form is a form is a form.

kai said...

I recently blogged on this subject. For a laugh:

http://cleanwriter.livejournal.com/5703.html