Why Are Great Projects Rejected?
Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Why are we receiving these positive rejection letters so frequently? Agents spend a lot of time finding the best projects out there to submit to publishers. We believe the books we’re submitting are worth publishing and that producing them will pay off for everyone–author, reader, publisher, agent.
When we receive these positive rejections for our books it shows that the publishing industry is in a risk-averse period. Publishing a book is always risky, and usually the biggest risks are the ones that either pay off the most or flop the most. At this point, publishers aren’t taking those bigger risks. They want to publish the books that will do well, maybe not great, but books that are almost guaranteed to make money for the company. These books come from authors they’ve published before or from ideas the publishing house specifically asks authors to write. There’s still hope for debut projects, but it’s much harder to get them out there at a time like this.
This wave in publishing has a lot to do with the economy these last few years. Publishing is a business, and it’s good business practice to be cautious in uncertain times. For authors and agents this is frustrating because we want to get these great books published! But it’s good to keep in mind that you don’t want to have your book published at the wrong time anyway. If your book comes out at a time where there’s going to be very little support or where the readership is pulling back from buying books, your first book could tank, leaving you worse off than when you started. Timing and finding a publisher and agent who believe in you can make all the difference!
Very few authors are published without ever being rejected. Here’s a fun list of books that were rejected bunches of times before finally being published:
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, rejected 18 times back when rejections were sent in the mail.
Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, rejected 140 times.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, rejected 121 times.
Carrie by Stephen King; more than 30 rejections, and Stephen’s wife rescued it from the trash.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, rejected 38 times. I wonder how many publishers rejected it just because of the length…
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, rejected 26 times.
Dune by Frank Herbert, rejected by 23 publishers.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding, rejected by 20 publishers.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, rejected 12 times.
A Time to Kill by John Grisham, rejected by 16 agents and 12 publishers.
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