|Two Maggots logo by House of Sharps|
The maggots still have a few things to read, and all current rejections have been sent, so if you have sent something and not had a rejection, don't worry - none of this is about you!
As writers, we're always unhappy when a publisher rejects a book. This is understandable - we write the books in the hope of earning enough to keep the wolf from the door, and it's a right pain if you spend ages on a book and can't sell it. But that's all it should be: a right pain, disappointing. It shouldn't feel like a personal rejection. That's what everyone says, but it still does feel like a personal rejection. Now I'm going to be really boring and say, in my maggoty publishing hat, that they were right all along: it's not personal.
In the last couple of weeks the maggots have rejected books for various reasons. Some of them of have been fine stories, but they are just not what the maggots are looking for. Reasons for rejection have been:
- wrong age range
- wrong genre
- wrong length
- anticipated legal problems
- just doesn't feel right for the list.
Another thing authors often gripe about is that publishers reject something without saying what's wrong with it or how it could be improved. It's not meanness; it's economics, pressure of time and the feeling that any feedback might not actually help.
The little maggot reads a story and it's not right for the list; so the bigger maggot emails the author, thanking them for their submission and saying they won't be taking it. The bigger maggot will often give an idea of why, as this is only polite - it's too long, it's suitable for children younger than our target market, etc. There is nothing to be gained by also saying (for instance) 'the dialogue is not convincing' or 'the plot is too weak'. For one thing, why would the author want to change a story in line with the opinion of a publisher who isn't going to take it? For another, such a tiny scrap of feedback, with no help on how to fix it, is probably not very valuable. And the maggots don't have the time to give free professional development advice to everyone. To each writer, it's one story they have spent ages on, but to the publisher it's one of many stories to deal with. Even fifteen minutes on feedback for each story soon gobbles up the working day.
As an author, think of sending out your stories as being like going to a shoe shop. You look at all the shoes. You try on those you like the look of. Some don't fit; some don't look right; some you decide you don't like after all; some don't go with your outfit; some are lovely, but not what you need right now - super winter boots, but no use for a flashy party. The rejected shoes are not rubbish, they're just not what you need. It's the same with editors and stories. You might have written some totally brilliant high heels, but the maggots wanted new Converses.