The first draft of Paragon was finished in 1994, a rushed effort before I moved to Brisbane to become an air traffic controller (the first in a long line of false starts in careers). Since then I have re-written the novel ten times. Ten!
As you can imagine, in that time I sent Paragon off to a lot of ‘real’ publishing houses, and have many rejection letters to show for it. I must confess I also made the classic mistake of sending out the first draft, which I will never do again. But that’s another story.
Was it the fact that I had a finished novel for 16 years and was never able to place it that led me to self-publish? No. It was the change in my rejection letters in recent years that led to this decision. I went from form letters (generic ‘dear author’ types) to specific ‘good’ rejections. These referred to character names and other details, indicating that the manuscript had actually been read. This, coupled with the fact that it took between 9-18 months for the publishers to reject the novel made me decide that it was time to put it out there myself.
So what is a ‘good’ rejection? Here are some actual quotes from three of my most recent rejections (which took 9, 12 and 18 months to come back to me) so you can see what I class as a good rejection:
“Thank you for sending this memorable manuscript…”
“It’s a difficult one to reject. You are obviously a talented writer who knows how to pace an intriguing story.”
“It’s an intriguing premise and you are clearly an imaginative storyteller…”
Yes, they are from the REJECTION letters. I can only begin to imagine how nice the acceptance letters must be! The other nice thing is that these comments came from YA Editors, not their assistants.
Hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to tell you what they say when they send you an acceptance letter. Maybe 2011 will be the year? 🙂
Happy New Year!