On Invitation and Rejection by Jami Gray
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Jami Gray as she shares with us “On Invitation and Rejection.” Enjoy!
“Out of nine thousand manuscripts a year The Century can only possibly print four hundred or less. It follows that editing a magazine is not unlike walking into a garden of flowers and gathering a single bouquet. In other words, not to accept an article, a story, a poem is not necessarily to “reject” it. There may be weeds in the garden… but the fact that a particular blossom is not gathered into the monthly bouquet does not prove that the editor regarded the blossom as a weed, and therefore passed it by.”
–The Century magazine circa 1890
Last year 500,000-plus books, both fiction and non-fiction, were published, just in the English language alone. 500K—half a million, and somewhere in there were two of mine. If you’re wondering why I’m tooting my tinny bike bell on this minuscule accomplishment in the scheme of things, it’s because I’m going to try and make a point.
Writing is a tough business.
It’s so tough, I could throw a ton of data and statistics at you regarding sales and publication that would leave you curled into a sobbing ball of despair. But I’ll spare you the horrifying reality check. Let’s be honest, if I was writing with the sole goal of rivaling Bill Gates, I’m so far off course, not even Siri could find me at this point. But here’s a little secret about making it in writing.
You need to be tougher.
This means when you’re shopping your current precious objet d’art and find yourself besieged by a scary amount of, “Thank you, but I don’t feel this is a good fit for me at this time” you don’t tumble over into the pit of despair and pull out your hair as you gnash your teeth, wailing, “Oh the horror!”.
You persevere. You keep going. Go on, go.
If the answering swarm seems never-ending, perhaps it’s time to double-check your preparation status.
Did you ensure those you’re inviting to admire your art, like your type of art?
Seems like an obvious question, but it does require an investment of research on your part. If your piece combines a quirky voice with ocelot shifter who falls in love with a vampiric emu as they uncover who ran over the zombie chicken crossing the haunted road, you don’t want to mass invite all romance lovers to oohh and aaahhh over your creation. However, you could refine your guest list to those who enjoy paranormal romance with a unique voice, or shifter romances that combine mystery and humor. This is a piece of your creative soul you’re offering, be picky.
Was your invitation personalized?
We’ve all gotten those emails. You know the ones—Dear beautiful one, I recently inherited a fortune and only you can save me, or Dear Writer, you too can hit the top selling lists simply by donating a massive monetary amount to this overseas bank account. Do you think your art patrons are any different? If you stick Dear Editor or Dear Agent on your invitation, chances are you’ll end up in the junk pile. Trust me, they get enough mail to make your current flood seem like a rain puddle. Taking the time to know who you’re inviting, shows a level of professionalism that will go a long way.
There are all sorts of tips for crafting the perfect query…erm…invitation, but no matter what the tip, always, ALWAYS be polite and professional. No shock jock tactics allowed. Polite, professional interactions leave a stronger impression, and that’s something you may want to build on later.
I know it’s difficult when those no’s come swooping back to roost, but take a moment after the pain fades to understand the response.
Was it a form rejection? Okay, it stinks, but it doesn’t mean they actually opened your email and at least scanned the first couple of lines.
Was it a semi-personalized one, where they liked it but gave one to two reasons why it didn’t work? That’s good, actually. If you get a handful that give the same feedback, it may mean taking a look at that aspect, just in case.
Did you get a partial or full, then a no? Yeah, those suckers sting like a bee on steroids. But did they tell you why or did they make suggestions? Did they add the line, “when you have a future project, please keep me in mind”? If they did, remember that because it’s not a throwaway line. They really mean it.
Did they make a group of suggestions and then close with, “I’d be happy to reconsider”? If so, don’t you dare put that in your no pile. That’s a maybe, and maybe’s are nudging yes. Take the time to ponder their suggestions and if they’re solid and doable, do them and resubmit.
And finally, the hardest part, remember to say, “Thank you for your time”. Seems silly and you might be gritting your teeth as you type it, but really, if they took the time to say no versus no response at all, be polite enough to thank them. You’d be surprised how little editors/agents hear, “thank you”. Trust me, they aren’t sitting in their treasure troves rubbing their hands together wondering when the next unsuspecting victim will wander in so they can REJECT them. Really, they aren’t. But writing is a business, and like all business transactions—some bets are a sure thing, some are risky, and some just don’t work.
Keep writing, keep creating your art, and keep inviting those to come enjoy it with you. It’s a cruel, tough world out there, but you can do it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jami Gray is the award-winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.
If you want to hunt her down, she can be found lurking around the following cyber locations:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI