Monday, June 29, 2009
Close Call, But No Luck
A friend in the publishing industry told me yesterday that very good books by established writers are being rejected for being "too quiet." This applies to books about floods, rape, and radical undergrounds and war. My friend also told me that generally no editor is buying books unless the book is guaranteed to make $100,000.00 over the advance. This is depressing. And it also perhaps explains the following rejection , which I received very recently concerning my finally completed novel: "I so apologize for taking this long with the manuscript. I’ve been waiting for some kind of extreme intervention to swoop down and change my response, but, alas, it has failed to come. I loved the novel, and I did have a tremendous amount of deja-vu when reading and remembering the things that attracted me the first time. The wonderful family dynamic, the sense of place, the individual characters within the family. But, I couldn’t help thinking, visa-vi the “business” of publishing (I HATE when that creeps into my reading experience), I bet I COULD have sold this years ago, but now I think the only response I would receive from editors is “this is too quiet.” It sucks that this is the current attitude in mainstream publishing. And, I have very recently received this annoying response consistently in response to novels I submitted that, like yours, are beautifully written and well drawn..." It is ironic to have worked for so many years writing and rewriting, only to unveil (ta-da) at a time when we are at the absolute nadir of book-buying. Well, alas, indeed. I got close, folks. That interested editor from the wonderful publishing house, who loved the novel, passed it on to her colleague and I've been waiting for weeks on end to see if it was going to happen for me. However, the second editor wasn't as convinced, even though she wrote: "I am very impressed with your writing and found myself needing to read to the end to see what happened to [the two main characters], and to the rest of the family. You've done a great job embedding a spooky sense of mystery in these pages." She still rejected it, because the story wasn't for her and she felt that the balance at the end was slightly off; so I guess she wasn't impressed enough.
BTW, she is Lauren Wein at Grove.