The Writer’s Block

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My Wall of Shame

James Weil
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Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 9
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When my agent first started shopping Swiss Chocolate around, I insisted that I get a copy of every rejection letter. Some came in the form of snail mail, but most came as emails. At first, she was a little hesitant about letting me see some of those emails, because she was afraid I might fire off a vitriolic response to being rejected. I have to admit there were a few when I was tempted to rip some of those editors to pieces, but I managed to hold back.

Instead, I taped every rejection on my office wall in chronological order. There were 27 in total before I got picked up. What was fascinating about those rejections is that editors were contradicting themselves over the merits of the main character or the story itself. It seemed like nobody could agree on anything. My favorite rejection came from Dutton. It simply said, "This story is not ambitious enough for hardcover." What does that mean?

I always knew when I was being rejected by a recent college grad because they seemed to miss the entire point of the novel, and their scathing critiques lacked maturity. My Wall of Shame drew the interest of several coworkers, and we stood around, scratched our heads, and wondered if these editors knew anything at all about good literature.

I learned a valuable lesson from this. Editors are not Gods. They are even more subjective about what they consider good than your average housewife who reads trashy romance novels. I must say, I was pleased by all the five-star reviews I got on Amazon once the book came out. 

Unfortunately, Swiss Chocolate never had a chance to become really successful, mostly because my publisher was a thief who had filed Chapter 13 before I signed the contract. He went under and I got fleeced. Another valuable lesson learned. 

So, don't be daunted by rejections from agents and editors. Your manuscript just needs to land in the right lap, but that can take an awful lot of time. Patience is key in this business.

Love to all!