Author: Oliver Phommavanh
JK Rowling and Australian Rebecca James were both published after receiving reams of rejection letters. So should writers keep sending and re-sending their manuscripts, trying to strike publishing gold? At the Sydney Writers’ Festival, I attended the ‘So you can think you can write’ session, where the audience could pitch their stories to publisher Shona Martyn and agent Lyn Tranter. Let me tell you, the ones that were successful in their pitch came prepared! In their three mintues some read their first paragraph and others explained the syponsis. More importantly, they justified why they thought their book deserved to be published.
Both Martyn and Tranter were honest in their assessments, and they explain that their reasons for rejection were not as simple as ‘I didn’t like it’ (though that can be a strong enough reason sometimes). A very common rejection letter may include the words ‘doesn’t fit their current list.’ That’s not a cheap copout. If a publisher churns out successful romantic novels, they’re not going to like your crime fiction novel. Marketing is also a major issue. Just like how Beautiful Malice wasn’t seen as a ‘viable’ YA novel, perhaps your story is going to give bookstores a headache figuring out where they should shelve your book. Sometimes it comes down to timing. If you have a story about falling in love with a vampaire, you may find it hard going to get accepted by a publisher right now.
That said, a good story will always find its way to the shelves. If you’re scared off by a few rejection slips, then perhaps you’re missing that grit and determination that’s needed to be an author. You can cope with rejection and keep on going. I mean, imagine if J.K Rowling gave up after the 11th rejection slip. Some writers and readers get inspired by stories, but I’m inspired by the story behind the book. What author inspired you with their story to publication? Anyone out there who’s been rejected?