Survival Guide to Homelessness

No matter where you go, there you are.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

My First Rejection Letter

Cool Publishers Unlimited
A Division of WeGotWhatYouWant Enterprises, Inc.
PO Box 1234 SomeWhere Villa, USA
Phone: 555-NaNa Fax: 555-Neah


Dear Author,

We have decided not to pursue the publishing of your book. It's a good premise, but we don't think it is quite right for us.

A rejection letter has little to no bearing on the worthiness of a piece of writing. It simply means it won't work for that particular publisher. Finding the right match in a publishing house can be as important as the writing itself.

Thanks for thinking of us. We wish you the best of luck with your publishing ventures. I apologize for the canned response, but due to the volume of submissions, it is not possible to send personal responses.


Too Cool President

Right up to the last paragraph I was with these guys. I took some small comfort in the notion that it was a good premise, and that perhaps they felt it was publishable, but didn't fit their line. They could have left off by wishing me luck, but they had to keep going. They had to admit the response was canned, and therefore insincere. To top it off, they had to brag that they have so much good stuff to read, they haven't got time to give me a personal blow off.

Now I am disappointed, and I don't mean to seem bitter, but I could write a better rejection in my sleep. Never, ever, admit that you haven't written this letter personally and particularly for its recipient. Never.

Ah well. I won't tell him that. I'll just put it here, on the blog, drink a beer, and see if I can think of someone else to submit to. I just hope the next rejection I receive has the good grace to seem personal. Meanwhile, if I don't find some work, I think I'll be reading my own book for tips.


At 2:42 PM, Blogger Skuz said...

want to learn how to make your own book and say fuck you to all the publishing houses? check out my latest project:
Look around on the site, see if you like our philosophy, download the zine, email with questions, and get your damn book out there.


At 3:24 PM, Blogger Mobile Homemaker said...

Normally, I'd look at your comment as spam and trash it, but your zine is really cool and it is on point. Thanks!

I still want a publisher, though. Anyone? Anyone?

At 5:02 PM, Blogger aarondavidscholz. said...

Have you considered CrimeThInc.? They put out the book "Evasion", which is someone's tale of dumpster diving, homelessness and adventures.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger dash bradley said...

I don't know if you're actually interested in going that route, but another good site about self-publishing is the guy who does it has done a lot of homework, and has some good tips.
good luck!

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

What about Soft Skull Press? Or AK Press? This seems right up their alleys.

At 3:02 AM, Blogger Zen Angel said...

Keep have a voice that, in my opinion, needs to be heard.

Have you tried reading the magazine, "Writer's Digest"? Every issue, they include publishers that are looking for different types of material. A search through the library and their back issues might give you a viable list.

Good luck!

At 9:33 AM, Blogger The Pedant said...

You cannot seriously expect a publisher (who receives thousands of manuscripts a year) to give every single one a detailed personal response. I don't think what they wrote is rude, I think it's honest and even pleasant. Just keep sending it out and if it's good, it'll get published. Based on the quality of your blog, I really don't think you'll have to wait too long to find a publisher - it's just a question of time.

At 3:39 AM, Blogger Sk8RN said...

I agree that the part admitting the letter is canned is lame. Keep on trying!

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Jay said...

Why bother to say it had a good premise when it goes on to say that they send this same rejection letter to any person who totally negates the quasi-compliment.

Getting published is hard work, but keep plugging away, you'll get there.

At 3:00 AM, Blogger Jaxon S said...

I think you just keep on trying. Stephen King had his "good premise" rejected too initially.
Me? I've written one (in my national language) but the publisher kept it inside the "freezer". No news since 2003, not even a rejection letter. By the way, hope you don't mind, I've posted an entry about you in my blog.

At 1:59 PM, Blogger Cheryl said...

It cant be 'that canned', surely no publisher with a reputation to keep up is going to say specifically encouraging stuff like 'the premise was good'. If Joe Rubbish goes round bragging that XYZ said his (useless) book had a good premise, they would lose face way too quickly to stay in business, surely.
Maybe they were apologising for not having time to go in to the merits of your work, or suggest other publishers?
It didnt say thanks, no thanks, it didnt say 'crap', it didnt say 'you wasted our time'. So its not something that goes with their image or portfolio of subjects, but they still liked it.
Keep going!
Try here:

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Rose said...

For some odd reason I have kept a good portion of the rejection letters that I have received over time. I don't know why - guess I'm just used to saving things.

I don't think you know just how popular your particular blog is! The number of comments that you receive is a good indication of how popular your blog is.

Personally I would try the self publishing route so that I would be the sole boss but if you want to go the publisher route you should get a copy of The Writer's Market Handbook which lists publishers and what they are looking for as far as submissions are concerned. They also have a website as well.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Sal said...

re the form letter: you actually got a positive reply. not a personalised one, true (publishers get HUGE volumes and are surprisingly low margin so usually have tiny staff size), but one which matched your work: sounds like your work was not only read, but that you also got to one of the almost-but-not-quite piles.
many writers would kill to get that far.

re what next: sorry, i've only just come back to your blog after a while so not sure what your book is about but i'll assume it's homelessness. ;) On that basis:

1/ Consider approaching literary nexus points which are actively sympathetic to homeless. e.g., ask the UK's crusader lit.paper: Guardian/Observer for advice. Or approach the publishers of the Big Issue and see if they can either help you directly (wouldn't be surprised!) or else put you in touch with people who'd be interested. They may even know of government grants or similar which could assist.
Remember, email doesn't care how far away they are. And also, Big Issue US is a completely different company from Big Issue UK (and the crusader guy was the UK guy- ex-homeless himself), so try both. Don't for a second think a company is remotely organised just because it's big or multinational. Usually, it's quite the opposite.

2/ Consider self-publishing. Chap-books are do-able but an even easier option, given that you've already quite nicely laid things out, might be these guys:
BlogBinders: Turn your weblog into a book.

3/ keep on plugging till you get "lucky". Publishing is littered with stories of bestselling and/or award-winning authors who were unable to get published for years until they got their one lucky break.



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