I hate writing rejections. I hate writing rejections even more when I have to say no to an amazing book. But, because the world of publishing isn’t all kittens and rainbows (alas!), sometimes I do have to say no to an awesome story. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. I already have a book like it. I will read retellings all day, but I can’t have three Beauty and the Beast stories on my list at one time, even if they are all top notch. Having competition within your list is tough on marketing and on sales—marketing can’t keep pitching the same kind of book, and buyers won’t take repetitive stories from a publisher.
2. It’s not my category. At the moment, I only acquire for kids 0-18. (Thank goodness—I never have to grow up!) So even if I get a submission next F. Scott Fitzgerald, I can’t acquire outside my genre. That means I have to say no to wonderful adult fiction, romance, fantasy, and more.
3. The timing isn’t right. Publishing moves in waves, with trends ebbing and flowing as readers get excited about a genre and lose interest in another. I’ve come across manuscripts that would be perfect five years in the future or five years in the past, but right now the readers aren’t there for that story. Because publishing is still a business, I have to be responsible for acquiring books that meet a need in the marketplace.
4. Someone else says no. There are cases when an editor will be excited about a project, and somewhere along the line someone else will say no. This could be someone on the sales team, in the finance department, in the editorial group, etc. People won’t always agree—especially when it comes to books—and the editor needs to turn down a project based on feedback from their colleagues.
5. I’m not the right editor. Sometimes a manuscript might be fantastic, but the genre is outside my wheelhouse. For example, I don’t have a ton of experience with graphic novels, and I know I might not be the best editor for those kinds of projects. On the other hand, I may think the concept rocks, but I don’t fall 100 percent in love and can’t move forward (I even did a post about being a subjective editor!).
No matter what, if a book doesn’t work for me but I think it would be a great fit for someone else, I will always spread the word. This can even result in an author getting a deal from a different editor! So if you have an out-of-this-world book, but get a handful of rejections, don’t worry. The perfect editor could be just around the corner.