Early on in our career, we’d been rejected so often Harrell had a belt made with the words “Dear Contributor” stamped into the back. Yep, the lettering was pretty small but it fit. “The editors don’t seem to know our names,” he complained. “So I’m thinking about making a change.”
As time went on, we still found plenty of Dear Contributor slips in the mail but we also started to receive nicer comments, more personalized almost-but-not-quite-right’s, and the occasional paycheck. When we focused on independent publishers and e-publishing, our acceptance rate soared. Once we embraced self-publishing as a viable option, why, the rejection slips fell to almost zero.
We created Hunting Monsters Press and, frankly, Hunting Monsters Press loves our work. So you can imagine our surprise when we checked through our e-mail’s spam filter and found a legitimate communication from a Big Name Publisher. It was our first rejection slip in well over a year.
(The spam filter had also collected a large number of discount offers on Viagra…sometimes spelled ‘Vigra’ and ‘Vaigra’…and this most amazing offer from an African prince. He has hundreds of thousands of dollars waiting for us and all we have to do is help him out a little. So if you don’t hear from us for a bit, you’ll know why.)
All in all, the rejection was a pretty gentle this-is-not-for-us as things go. The editor thanked us for our patience. Said his company receives boodles of submissions but only a tiny number of those submissions warranted significant attention – and that kind of attention takes time. Then editor provided us with a full page of thoughts and suggestions.
The thing is, we didn’t remember submitting anything to the publisher (who shall remain unnamed; after all, they still accept over the transom, unagented submissions and we love them for that). At least, one of us didn’t remember making a submission. Harrell scratched and his chin and said, “I think…maybe…let me check….”
He pulled records and there it was: He really had submitted Aly's Luck to this publisher. When time passed and there wasn’t a response, he sent a query to see if they were still interested in our work but we never heard back. (Their reply might have fallen into the spam trap, too. Who knows?) So he went ahead and found us another publisher; actually, he found us two. A small print publisher who wanted to wait two years for publication due to financial issues and an outfit in the UK with a lovely editor. We didn’t want to wait two years (good thing, too; the publisher is now out of business) so we signed with the UK place.
Ye Olde Ed did a good job, raising many of the same issues found in this recent rejection letter. We fixed everything needing to be fixed, ended up carving thousands of words from the story to make ourselves happy, and went on with our lives. By the time we realized the UK publisher wasn’t going to work out, we’d already learned how to do the job ourselves. So we did.
When we publish our next manuscript, right around Christmas, we’ll put our own logo on it, too. Here’s one reason: We submitted our novel to the Big Name Publisher in 2010. We received their response in 2012. It was twenty-three months almost to the day before they told us they weren’t interested in our story.
The kicker? At the end of our rejection, the editor closed with, “We of course wish you the best of luck with the version you recently published.”
So we got that goin’ for us, which is nice.