I’ve said before that “weeding out” our unsolicited submissions inbox is not my favorite part of the job. I dislike sending rejections as much as authors dislike getting them. But every once in awhile I get a response to a rejection that makes me smile with satisfaction, knowing that rejection was indeed the right choice.
For example, I once received a reply to a rejection that basically told me I better watch out on Judgment Day because I was going to have a lot to answer for. Yikes! According to the author, I had dishonestly misled him into believing we would publish his book. In reality, I had simply asked for some more information, but later rejected his work after we discovered the book was not something Barbour would like to publish at that time.
Paul Muckley, our senior nonfiction editor, recently shared in a meeting about a similar rejection response. I believe this one said something about us all needing to look for new jobs because God would never bless Barbour since we chose not to publish this author’s book. So we all started polishing our resumes right away…not! I have also gotten a few not-quite-so-dramatic-but-nasty-just-the-same email replies in the last week or two.
What I’d like to ask these authors is do they really think they’re helping themselves get published by burning bridges when they get rejected? For all they know, we thought their ideas and writing were great, but their work just didn’t fit in our publishing plans at the time. But they can be assured that if I get a nasty email response, I won’t want to look at any proposals from them in the future, no matter how great they might be. Why would I want to work with someone who acts like a spoiled child and writes a hate-filled response when things don’t go his/her way?
I’m not saying any of you authors reading this blog are guilty of sending nasty rejection replies, but I’m sure you’ve been tempted. We’re all human, and rejection hurts! But here’s my advice: If you’re angry and frustrated and need to lash out, then go ahead and write the reply. Scream and yell with lots of punctuation and ALL CAPS if you need to. But don’t hit send! Vent it out, then delete it and give it over to God. He wants to take our hurt from us, so let Him. (1 Peter 5:6-8) Then let Him comfort you and encourage you.
I admire the author who can send a gracious reply like “Thanks anyway. I appreciate your time and hope to submit something that might fit your publishing needs in the future.” That shows me this author doesn’t want to burn a bridge but will keep persevering in a highly competitive industry. And maybe someday he/she won't be mourning over another disappointing rejection but rejoicing over a new contract!