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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Have Rejected >1000 Books

Have a peek into the mind of rejecting book editor, Jean Hannah Edelstein, here.  Isn't it exactly what you've always expected you'd find if you cracked open one of those nuts? Here's a highlight: "...writing rejection letters is a delicate skill, one that must be fine-tuned over time (weeks, even) as one digs out from under the slush pile. For it is not easy to achieve and balance the two central goals of a truly accomplished rejection letter: trying not to make the writer feel distraught whilst also discouraging him or her from ever contacting you ever again." Nice.  I wonder if Bill Shapiro will take one of her "carefully crafted pieces of heartbreaking" rejection in his forthcoming book Other People's Rejection Letters.  Maybe as a measure of karma, he should reject Ms. Edelstein, though even I wouldn't wish that on my worst, enemy.


Anonymous said...

It suggests that they actually read submissions, which is what I find most surprising.
I wonder if this editor's sole job is to write rejections, to be dispersed among requisitioning editors. J

John Bruce said...

Everything I read says that the vast majority of slush pile submissions are semiliterate and hackneyed. It seems to me that the minor challenge ought to be to dispense with those as quickly as possible -- a neutral-sounding note should be sufficient; there's no way you'll stop them from contributing again. The major challenge ought to be to find the occasional good writing that turns up in the slush pile without becoming too jaded or self-important to recognize it. I would guess, though, that this isn't happening, and it's one reason the traditional publishing industry is going the way of Packard and Nash, Oldsmobile and Chrysler.

The Rejection Queen said...

Writing a rejection is a delicate skill? WTF? I didn't know printing out a peice of paper and putting it in an envelope required that much thought.

Anonymous said...

i didn't find this piece hurtful or mean-spirited. of late, guardian articles have been picking up more of the flavor of tabloids and light reading material. to me, this article just sounded humorous. talks about space operas and jane austen fan fiction. the kind of stuff really clueless people send to to the wrong agents.

maybe i'm finally developing thick writerly skin? i give this post a C+ for effort. try to boil my blood more next time.