William Wordsworth wall-papered his bedroom walls, all of them, with rejection letters.
Every wall, from floor to ceiling.
If you’re not him, or better than him, you should perhaps expect some rejection letters too.
It takes a lot of hard work to get your work accepted for publication. It takes research, and a thick skin.
Most of the time you’ll receive a form letter stating your book wasnt what they wanted, but thanks anyway.
Here are some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to submitting your novel and receiving a rejection letter:
* First of all, research what publishing house you’re going to send your manuscript off to. DONT send to a giant list of whatever publisher’s you’ve come across, or send to multiple publishers at once. Most publishers wont accept manuscripts that have been submitted to several publishers at once, and they get irritated when they say they will look at your novel, but you have to pull it because someone else is interested in it. It makes you look like a greedy amateur, and you can develop a bad reputation fast.
* Research your publishers: if you send a manuscript to a publisher who doesn’t have anything to do with the type of thing you publish, you’re wasting your time and theirs. And again,you’re showing that you’re an amateur and that you don’t have the sense to make sure you’re sending it to the right people. For example, don’t send your Martian love story to someone who only publishes travel books. It may seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many manuscripts publishers get that have clearly been sent out via mass email. It’s irritating and unprofessional. Dont do it.
* Wait. Patiently. If a publisher acknowledges your manuscript and says they’ll get back to you in 12-14 weeks, don’t email them at 11 weeks, or 14 weeks and one day. If it’s been a fair bit longer than the time they mentioned, it’s okay to send a short, polite query asking if they might have made a decision yet. Polite, folks. Not snippy, not rude, not impatient.
* If it is rejected, you have two options: if they provided any reasons they’ve rejected it, take those VERY seriously. Publishers receive a butt-load of manuscripts, and don’t have time to give feedback on all of them. If they’ve given you feedback, they found reason to take time from their schedule to give you that feedback, and it’s worth gold.
If they didn’t give feedback, you can send a short, polite email thanking them for getting back to you, and mentioning that if they could provide any feedback you would be quite grateful. Chances are, they wont respond. But if they do, the information will be valuable.
So, it’s been rejected.
Now, you need to decide to either: send it off to another publisher, or, rework it before sending it off again.
If you know it’s done, if you know it has a home out there just waiting for it, send it out again. Remember to take into account the type of publishing houses you’re submitting to. Look for books in the store that might have a similar theme to yours, and see who is publishing those. That way, you can make brief reference to that book in your cover letter to the new publishing house.
Research doesn’t end when the book is done. There’s still lots to do…