Everybody has those days sometimes when they want to throw up their hands in frustration and go lay on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn for a Star Trek: the Next Generation marathon. Today is one of those days.
I got another rejection letter today for a manuscript that's really good. This isn't bragging - it's objectively a very good manuscript, if the comments I've received from multiple editors are to be believed. And why would they lie to me? If anything, they'd be better off telling me it sucks so I'll go away and not bother them with anymore of my hideous stories. But instead, I've been told this is a very funny, clever, well-written manuscript. I've heard this repeatedly from multiple different people who I did not pay to say those kind words. And yet every single one of them has still rejected the manuscript. I know I should just be grateful for the compliments - and I am - but it's hard to read that glowing first paragraph of a letter and get your hopes up, then get to the second paragraph and see the word "Unfortunately." I've come to hate that word.
Why all the rejections for an enjoyable manuscript? A variety of reasons, none of which I can do anything about. For some, the manuscript is too different from other things on the market; in other words, it's too big a risk. Others say it's too similar to other things that are on the market. Still others say that while their publishing house wants to branch out into books like mine, the time isn't quite right yet. I've also been told that an editor loved it, but the marketing department said no.
In all of these cases, there's nothing I can do about the rejection. There's no suggestion of a re-write to make it more appealing. I'm just told "good luck with another publisher." But I'm running out of publishers that might be appropriate for this book. I've even put this thing on a shelf for a couple years to give the market a chance to change a bit. But when I dusted it off, updated it, and sent it off again, I got another round of "great book, not for us" letters.
So what to do? It looks like a night of licking my wounds over mindless TV and popcorn, then tomorrow I'll try again. The thought that keeps me going is that someday I'll get that letter that doesn't contain the dreaded word "unfortunately" in the second paragraph. Instead I'll just see the word "YES!"