The stories my agent likes enough to send on to an editor sometimes go on to be accepted, but they’re frequently rejected at various stages in the publishing process. It’s disappointing when an editor loves a story but can’t get it past marketing - and it’s most disappointing when ‘low sales projections’ mean the project is ditched after contracts are signed and colour artwork is in (something that has only happened to me once, I’m pleased to say).
One of the advantages of having an agent is that a gentle’ no’ filters back to me – often leavened with humour. I couldn’t help a wry smile when the news of the rejection of a story called Chirpy Chicks came to me in an email entitled ‘not so chirpy chicks’. These days, I take rejection philosophically (after all, nobody got hurt or died) and by the time I hear that my agent has done all she can for a particular story, I’ve already moved on to other ideas. And I prefer to think positively – a 3 in 4 failure rate is a 1 in 4 success rate. YAY!
I’m often not given a reason for a rejection, beyond ‘not strong enough’ or ‘not right for our list.’ But just occasionally the reasons are very specific, and can even make me laugh. My favourite rejection concerns a picture book story about a dung beetle:
‘…we enjoyed reading your story, but we felt that the pictures would be too brown…’
Do you have a favourite reason for being rejected?