Rejection Letter

Last Friday was apparently “post a rejection letter” day, which started here with Shaun K.Green. Ok, so I’m rather late.

I opened up a file, and here is an extract from the first one I came across, sent to my agent back in 2000.

“I couldn’t persuade our sales people that it was strong enough for us to make the right sort of commitment to it. Of course, they want the next top-of-the-bestsellers fantasy, and Noramly doesn’t attempt the formulaic big-big fantasy that’s seen as the answer. She’s very interesting, thoughtful, provocative, politically aware; but the first person narrative of (The Heart of the Mirage) offers a different perspective on a fantasy world, and though very well wrought, the world is not made available to the reader in the same way as it is in an epic fantasy.”

That’s a lovely rejection letter.
Five years later I met the author of that letter, and she was just as nice as it suggests. And it’s all moot now anyway as the book has been published (by another publisher in the same country)!

Persistence. So much of the road to success is persistence. Ok, sheer stubborn, pig-headed bloody-mindedness. My luck was in finding an agent who was just as obstinately dogged as I am.

[Ah but that whole first person thing – no matter how good the book, the first person narrative puts some people off, even though the story would in fact be less effective if the third person narrative was used.]

Now you see one of the reasons I have not written a first person book since The Mirage Makers.


Rejection Letter — 7 Comments

  1. Nice rejection letter … a fine subtlety complimenting the author while performing ‘keyhole gralloching’ on the publishers for their unenlightened greed (by implication wanting the world handed to them on a – presumably third person – plate).

    Still, I’d rather you didn’t get any more rejection letters for a while – not even ones as nice as this.

    Stay stubborn. 🙂

  2. This is my second try. I am making even more typos than usual this morning.

    That sure beats the “not suitable for our current list” form letter:-) Although, to paraphrase what Jo says, manure by any other name still smells as nasty.

    Many of my favourite books are written in the first person, and I read recently on Writer Unboxed that the 1st POV is making a comeback. However, I’ve met many people who don’t like it, usually for one of two reasons: a)If the person is telling the story, we can surmise that everything turned out OK because s/he is still alive and b) reading in the first person feels as if you have to think the character’s thoughts instead of your own, which feels invasive. Yet these same people love the close 3rd POV because it makes them feel what the character feels. You can’t win, eh?

  3. Both reasons are vacuous, aren’t they, Satima? First of all, “turning out ok” is subjective. All sorts of bad endings can still leave the narrator able to tell his/her story; and the second reason is just plain silly, as you have indicated. A third reason given to me is: “Oh it means the story is too linear and you only get one PoV”. Rubbish. It depends on how skilful the author is. Anyone who thinks that it ends up as a linear boring tale that is never going to sell, should look at Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s trilogy.

    But then, you know who published the UK edition of that?

    You guessed it!!

  4. Does it start with V? Oh no…

    Speaking of “turning out OK” I am raving about Joe Abercrombie’s first trilogy, The First Law. Almost *nothing* turns out OK! He takes every Fantasy trope and every stock character and rotates them not-quite 180%. It’s brilliant. Not 1st person, though: multiple close third. But every POV is distinctive and original.

  5. Yes, Satima, that’a another book I have to try sometime…but my TBR pile is already so high I can’t see over the top of it.

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