Saturday 7 December 2013

Contractual oddity

I found this interesting bit in a publishing contract I was signing this morning:

'If the Publishers decline to accept the typescript, they will set out their reasons for doing so... in a written notice of at least 250 words.'

I don't think I've seen that before - the publisher setting a word extent for their rejection letters. I suppose it means they can't reject the MS over twitter. And they can't reject it just be saying 'it's shit'. It means they have to give some critical feedback, I assume. But I guess they could use the 250 words saying just exactly how shit it is... I think I'd better write the books in this series well, as I don't want to read 250 words of how shit they are.


  1. A lot better than "the publisher thanks you for your submission but regrets it does not meet our present needs." That is cause for despair. Oh, wait, this is a contract. So they've accepted it, sort of, but by the time they turn it down after all, you'd really know why anyway. But at least they commit themselves to something other than,"look, this isn't working. Don't darken our doorway again."

    Recently, my students were asked to provide feedback on a manuscript by a well known local author. It took ages and the girl who read it first never finished it. By that time, when I emailed to apologise, the lady at the publisher said," Don't worry about it, we're rejecting it anyway." I often wonder what feedback they provided. I asked to hang on to the MS a bit longer, as there was a Literature Circles group who had read and loved one of his other books. The publisher turned out to be right, BTW. They loved it at first, but gave up on it - too many viewpoints, they said. Okay in a verse novel, not in prose.

  2. Yes, 90% of rejections are obvious. Then there are some books that were probably fine, but not for that publisher at that time. Then there are some that are right for that publisher, but not then.

    But yes, this was a contract, so this was the clause for rejecting it if it didn't live up to the outline and couldn't be fixed to their satisfaction.

  3. Funny you should say that about "that publisher but not at that time." :) I submitted a novel manuscript to a publisher once and actually had a phone call saying, "Look, I love it, but we're not publishing this sort of fiction right now." I gave up on it after many submissions and almost-acceptances, or at least, put it aside for a while. Fast forward many years. I do an interview. I carefully mention I'm fiddling with it. I get an email from the same lady, now working elsewhere, asking to see my MS. She didn't know then that it was the one she had had to reject. She bought it two days ater.

  4. I'd be interested to know if the Society of Authors has any comments to make on this.

  5. Sue, that's a great story!
    Jo - I don't think the SocA would have much to say about it. There's nothing wrong with it particularly, is there?

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