Clearing the Decks

You may wonder about my title for this entry thinking, Clearing the Decks? During this time of the year, he’s supposed to “Deck the Halls.”

While people are stuffed into the malls doing last minute shopping, I’ve been looking at my piles of manuscripts, book proposals and query submissions for Howard Publishing.  If I don’t handle it bit by bit, these submissions seem to pour into my mailbox or office. In a few cases, I picked up some proposals when I taught at different conferences. It’s rare that I will take something home from a conference because of the added weight I usually ask the person to send it later. In the rush of a limited face to face appointment, if I see some glimmer of hope, I will some times take the proposal. Then I still need to respond—either via email or the regular mail. I’ve been cutting down on my stack. I’ve been sending out a number of form rejection letters.

In recent weeks, I’ve heard about another fiction editor who started at a new job. This publisher has been looking for the right fiction editor and saving all of the submissions from literary agents.  When the editor arrived and sorted his stacks, he discovered over 100 proposals from literary agents (which usually means worth serious consideration). This editor had his work cut out for him to cut through that mound of paper.

Here’s something else that is driving my work on this particular area—the U.S. Postal rates will increase on January 8, 2006.  For the regular mail submissions, authors have included their self addressed stamped envelope. The publisher doesn’t want to process additional postage for these submissions just because they were not promptly processed and returned. If you don’t know about the postal rate increase, check out this link for the official information.

If you are one of those people with submissions out to book publishers, don’t be surprised if you suddenly receive a rash of responses.  Some times other factors drive these decisions and the postal rate increase is a case in point. Some writers think their editor will be too busy during the holidays.  Often the reverse situation is true.  Some editors have completed their immediate publication deadlines and the number of meetings inside the publisher is more limited during this season. I suspect other editors are processing their submissions.  Some editors have looked at their forthcoming lists and determined the various possibilities are filled for two years. These editors are returning their pending submissions.

How do you handle these rejections? Do you reject rejection and immediately return it into the system? Or do you set it aside to read it again and see if some improvements can be made before you send it out again? No manuscript can be considered if it is stuck in your drawer.

3 Responses to “Clearing the Decks”

  1. Gina Holmes Says:

    That reminds me of a letter I read somewhere from an author writing a rejection letter, rejecting the editor’s rejection of his MS.

    I always read through the ms again particularly if the editor was kind enough to give some feedback which often they are. The editorial advice is worth its weight in gold. Then I rewrite and get her back out there and continue to work on the latest wip.

  2. Camy Tang Says:

    I think that letter Gina’s thinking of is by a woman, Kelly. It was posted on agentobscura’s blog. It garnered Kelly a(nother) look-see at her ms, at any rate. Hey, only has to work once.


  3. Terry Whalin Says:

    Gina and Camy,

    I believe there is wisdom in persistence with your writing work. It is not wise to send a response to the editor who has rejected your manuscript with something snappy or adversarial (yes, it happens). You make an impression but definitely not the one you want to make with this editor.

    When your query or proposal or novel gets rejected–and you want to send a note to the editor, something neutral like, “Thank you for your prompt answer” is always fine. Then look for a new market for your project and get it out of your hands and back into the consideration process at a different publishing house.


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