I got my first novel rejection today.
A couple of weeks ago, I sent out five novel queries. The package consisted of a cover letter (including a one-paragraph blurb), the first chapter of my novel, and a three-page synopsis of the whole story. I sent the package to five different publishers.
How did I select the publishers? I perused Publisher’s Marketplace. Among other things, they produce a daily list of novels sold to publishers, detailing the genre/field, the publishing imprint it was sold to, and the names of the author(s), agent(s), and editor(s) involved. If you’re a paying member of the site, you can search the archives. Which I did, looking for the names of editors who had recently purchased novels in the same general genre as mine, then looked for more info on the editor, the imprint and the publishing house that owns the imprint.
I chose five and sent out a package to each of them. Four went out by snail mail, one via email. Unsurprisingly, the email submission was the first to get a reply. It was a rejection. The email said that I had a fascinating premise and that the novel showed promise, but that the writing failed to grab her attention and keep her reading even though she was interested in the plot.
So, when I practice the ancient art of Rejectomancy (scrutinizing rejection letters for clues), what do I learn? Well, first, it wasn’t a form rejection. The editor liked the premise and seemed to find the plot interesting enough, which is good. But on the other hand, she didn’t find my writing gripping enough to want to keep reading.
I’ll try to improve my writing on the next novel. Try to punch it up, and grab the reader by the throat from word one. I’d do that anyhow, of course, but this feedback is something to keep in mind. Still, I’m not going to assume what I’ve written is no good. There are plenty of published, successful writers I don’t read because I just don’t care for their style for one reason or another. Nothing wrong with that. Tastes vary.
It may be that this editor just doesn’t care for my style. Some other editor might feel differently. And this is, ultimately, only one person’s opinion. So I’ll consider her words, and keep them in mind as I continue working on my writing, but I’m not going to let one opinion stop me. After all, the next letter I get could just as easily be an acceptance, and I only need one of those.