Thank you for your wonderfully supportive comments last week! I’ve reread them whenever I need a boost, and each time, I feel inspired. I am so grateful to be a part of this community.
This is my second week as a self-employed employee and I couldn’t be happier. I have time to sit outside in the sun, to join my brother and his girlfriend at a baseball game, to make a BLT for lunch--and then for dinner, broccoli rabe with pasta from Michelle Maisto
’s gorgeous memoir, The Gastronomy of Marriage
--and still “work” (I put the word in quotation marks because it doesn’t feel much like work when it’s on my own terms). And I still feel very much a part of the literary world.
Thank you for your questions this week, and please, keep them coming!
I’ve got your answers,
The Girl with the Red Pencil
Q: At least a year ago, I sent an early version of my manuscript to an acquisitions editor at a niche publishing house that is perfect for my project. The editor replied with a wonderful handwritten note. It was a rejection, but it was the best rejection I've ever received. I've revised the piece and have been building a platform ever since. Is it appropriate to reach out to her again?
A: YES! Even though this editor wasn’t able to make an offer at the time, she admired your work and would probably be very happy to reevaluate a stronger version of the manuscript from a better-connected and more qualified version of the writer.
When you draft your cover letter, be sure to remind the editor that she saw the manuscript before. Point out the elements she praised in her previous communication. Note how you’ve addressed any concerns she may have stated in the rejection letter, and how you’ve improved the manuscript as a whole. Describe how you’ve grown your platform.
Not every response from an editor is an invitation to get back in touch with a revised version of your project. But every contact you have is a valuable one, so it never hurts to try resending a revised project. When an editor is enthusiastic (A handwritten note?! That’s a wonderful sign!) she will most likely welcome another chance at your manuscript. Good luck to you!
Q: I’m a huge chick lit fan, and I’m often struck by the poor quality of some of the novels I read. I know I’ve written something just as good as what’s available at the bookstore, so why can’t I get mine published?
A: I’ll admit that similar thoughts have occurred to me when I’m reading books of a certain genre. "I could totally
write something like this!" But the goal should never be to write something “just as good” as what’s already been published. Strive to write something better. Your book needs to be stronger, more meaningful, more compelling. Better.
And publishers want to publish that kind of book. If there are millions of pretty good books out there, they don’t want another one that won’t stand out from the pack. It’s easy enough for a great book to fall through the cracks, let alone an okay one. Make your book better than everything else out there. Give it the best possible chance.