Monday, 30 April 2012

Literary landmark

One of my writer-friends was pleased to have achieved a landmark recently and proudly announced she felt qualified to call herself an author. The landmark? Her first rejection from a publisher. Personally I collect them and enjoy analysing the care with which they have been crafted – or not. My favourite so far was from the late John G Murray of that publishing dynasty, who in reviewing my proposal for the Madagascar memoir, actually apologised for not taking my book. He said, ‘I don’t feel we could make a success of it for you’ – as if was his fault. How wonderfully gentlemanly is that!
Another notable rejection was from Duckworth. I sent a synopsis and opening chapters of a novel for children so long ago I couldn’t even find a record of my submission. The very nice rejection letter dated December 2008 demonstrated that the Submissions Editor had read my words and considered my proposal seriously, but... and there’s always a but.... ‘at this moment in time I’m afraid....’ The remarkable thing about this very nice letter was that for some unknown reason it arrived just a few weeks ago! Apparently it had been lost on some postal system for three years.

People who know about submitting book proposals to agents and publishers say that one shouldn’t saturation-bomb publishers. Sending out multiple mailings isn’t viewed well, but if I was to wait three years between each submission it is likely that dementia would have set in by the time I received a contract for my next book. 

So... ‘What to do?’ As they say in Nepal.


  1. What to do? With a slight incline of the head and an upturn of the hand :)
    I'll keep this in mind when i start sending things off.... If i ever do!

  2. Of course you must start sending things out - however else will you get the adulation your deserve! The thing is not to give up!