I've been meaning to write a bit more on this blog for a while. Thoughts over a glass of wine at the end of the day, that sort of thing.
An author wrote a very flattering and effective pitch letter to me at Summersdale not long ago, saying how his adventure book would be a perfect fit for our list. The way he described it, it certainly sounded that way. In the end, however, we decided it wasn't for us, and I wrote to let him know. He lashed back with a nasty email saying, among other things:
'I wonder if you didn't find the story compelling because it doesn't have tales of drugs, sex, drunkenness and generally hapless travelling exploits like... most of your other travel publications.'
It would have been funny if it hadn't been so vicious and mean. The odd thing was, he also said he'd just been taken on by an agent, so he really had no reason to be bitter about the rejection. But if you've ever wondered why publishers often send standard rejection letters, that's one reason why. Still, I like to provide a personal note when I can. 99.9% of authors are grateful for that.
I remember a job I interviewed for back when I was trying to get into publishing in Canada. Well, I don't remember the interview at all, but I remember the rejection letter they sent had a spelling mistake in it (something like 'we recieved a huge number of applicants'). Of course, being young and foolish I had to write back to them and say maybe they should have hired someone who knew how to spell. Ouch. Just as well I didn't end up working in children's publishing, as it's a small world and I'm sure someone wouldn't have let me forget that.
Another author who took my rejection of his manuscript rather bitterly a year or so ago has ended up being a friend. He recently told me he thinks I was right to turn down his first manuscript. I understand how much rejection hurts and niggles - I'm an author, too. But it's part of the process of publishing - it's unusual to find a famous author who hasn't had rejection letters.
Anyway, I wish more of our books had drugs, sex and drunkenness. We'd probably make a lot more money.