I began sending my work to publishers about fifteen million years ago… Well not quite, perhaps it just feels that long! It has actually only been about four years. My success rate is usually dismal, but I did get one rejection letter that was, believe it or not, quite special to me.
After The Moogles Theatre Company produced a play I wrote I decided to take the script and send it for publication. I sent it to four publishers that primarily publish plays and poetry, and a particular target was one of the best known publishers in the country. (I won’t name names). Immediately after I let the envelope drop from my optimistic fingers and into the dark depths of the post box, I accepted that the odds of getting a reply were slim and I decided it was best not to dwell on it.
A month later, I got a hand written letter from the Commissioning Editor of that holy grail of Irish publishers. I knew immediately it was going to be a rejection, but it was neatly hand written and warmly encouraging. The letter said he personally enjoyed elements of my play (he detailed them) but overall didn’t feel it was right for that house. He wished me great success and told me to keep writing. I genuinely appreciated the letter and I will always hold on to it.
A rejection letter means that somebody has at the very least taken the time to read the work, considered it (to some extent), and made a commercial judgement call. A reply is rare, because the slush pile my work was plucked from was probably huge, varied, and contained the work of writers who have more experience and talent than I do. Basically, it’s a lucky dip because sometimes life just isn’t fair!
I try to send out some work to publishers at least once a year now. I have also self-published a book on amazon, which has been an interesting learning curve. I may never know mainstream publishing success but I will probably never stop trying to achieve it either, because despite the best sugar-coated rejections, some of us just refuse to take the hint!