For those on sub, What are the best/worst notes you’ve gotten in a rejection?
The absolute nicest ones are the ones that are along the lines of “I love this and this and this, BUT,” followed by something like, “It just didn’t keep me up at night” or “It’s not different enough from what’s already out there,” because, okay, that sucks, but I’m not gonna take that all that personally – certainly not as much as I’m going to appreciate the compliments. Hands down the worst one was about my writing not being “fresh and exciting,” because ouch, but also, my writing is something that’s going to be fairly consistent from ms to ms. If you don’t like the story here, you might still like the next one, but if you don’t like my writing, I’m probably not going to be subbing to you with anything else.
Most of the rejections I’ve got while being on submission have been very positive/encouraging. I have, however, gotten all manner of rejections, most of them contradictory. One place was struggling to sell books in my genre, one place was selling them so well they were overloaded. One editor loved the writing, another hated it. One loved the humor, another absolutely couldn’t stand it.
I’ve done some light revisions since I first signed with my agent, but I think it’s interesting that the responses I got at the query stage were MUCH more consistent than the ones I’ve gotten while on submission.
Worst notes was that the stakes weren’t high enough, to which my agent and I outright disagreed. The best, of course, are the ones that come with praise about the writing or the characters.
Most of my rejections have been very nice, but not very specific. The hardest part is the conflicting feedback you get from editors. For example, one person will say the plot is too complicated, and another will say it is too straight forward.
Among the worst: “I thought this was just too commercial” Umm…so it’s bad to have a book that lots of people will want to buy? In general, it’s tough
to get rejections that are so conflicting- one editor will love something another editor didn’t connect with. This has happened on several different things and really makes me appreciate the subjectivity. It’s daunting to think these editors can only work on a few books a year, so liking it isn’t good enough. They have to love it!
Best = R&R offer. Worst = I think my agent protects me from those.
One thing that’s definitely a common theme about sub rejections – getting seriously conflicting reports. Nothing proves the subjectivity of the business quite like getting notes like “I loved the story but I just didn’t relate to the main character” and “I loved the main character but didn’t care for the premise” on the same manuscript, sometimes on the same day. Frustrating for sure, but no one ever said publishing was objective!