In case you missed it, you may enjoy reading extracts from the rejection letter received by J K Rowling when she sent out her first crime novel, under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. By the end of last year, the first two Robert Galbraith books had sold 1.5 million copies.
Not only does the letter contain a pretty tired phrase about grandmothers and eggs, but it advises her to double-check the publishers of her fiction genre before sending anything out. Since she was submitting it to a noted crime imprint, she was already doing that. Clear evidence they weren’t doing her the courtesy of staying awake while looking at her submission.
(The bold print below is ours!)
‘Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to consider your novel, which we have looked at with interest. However, I regret that we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we could not publish it with commercial success.
At the risk of “teaching my grandmother to suck eggs”, may I respectfully suggest the following:
‘Double check in a helpful bookshop … precisely who are the publishers now of your fiction category/genre.
‘Call the publisher to obtain the name of the relevant editor, it is rarely productive to speak to her/him in person. Nowadays it is perfectly acceptable to approach numerous publishers at once and even several imprints within the same group.
‘Then send to each editor an alluring 200-word blurb (as on book jackets, don’t give away the ending), the first chapter, plus perhaps two others, and an SAE. The covering letter should state as precisely as you can the category/genre of fiction you are submitting – cite successful authors in your genre, especially those published by the particular imprint you are contacting…
…Owing to pressure of submissions, I regret we cannot reply individually or provide constructive criticism (A writers’ group/writing course may help with the latter.) May I wish you every success in placing your work elsewhere.’
Allison Pearson, commenting on this rejection letter in The Daily Telegraph, told of a similarly crushing rejection she had fourteen years ago when she was trying to get interest in her book about a stressed-out working mother, I Don’t Know How She Does It. She was advised to go away and study techniques in a novel published by one of the agent’s existing writers. I Don’t Know How She Does It subsequently reached No.1 on Amazon in the U.S.
There is hope for us all.