I have this friend named Clara. Clara is an unpublished writer, and she and her loyal, dedicated agent have been pitching her debut since June 2012. Since then, nearly forty editors have written kind and thoughtful rejections, most of them including Goldilocks-esque details in their notes. Here are some snippets (and amalgams of snippets):
I loved this narrator and cried in the [X] scene, but I’m afraid the teenage voice would be too hard to sell to an adult audience.
This novel reminds me of John Green/Madeleine L’Engle/E.L. Konigsburg, but the topics feel a little too mature for Middle Grade readers.
[The narrator’s voice] is fantastic, fresh, hilarious and unique, but I worry she’s just a little too innocent for Young Adult readers.
Too soft, too hard. Too hot, too cold. The manuscript has even made it to an editorial meeting or two. But so far? Nothing that’s Just Right.
Each time Clara’s agent has to forward another rejection, Clara feels like she is standing naked and thirty pounds overweight in front of a million people, all of whom are hucking rotten tomatoes and water balloons and Slim-Fast shakes at her and her not-quite-right manuscript.
The weird thing? Clara’s 2012-13 Rejection Tour has only made her want to be honest about her rejection. Not so she can be a whiner or a compliments-fisher, but because she knows, from experience, that when she is vulnerable, when she shares the truth of her rejection, her failure, her shortcomings, most other folks offer empathy instead of disdain, compassion rather than contempt. [Read more…]