Earlier this year I submitted one of my fantasy manuscripts to a couple of publishers who had open submission periods. I received a fairly standard rejection letter from one of them, and just the other day I received another rejection, but this time with feedback. I consider that a good rejection - yes there is such a thing. If a publisher is willing to offer feedback as to why your manuscript doesn't suit them, it can be really helpful. There may be something you can improve in your manuscript, or it might be that it's just not the right fit.
So what did my rejection letter say? Well they wanted more layers to the story and better yet, they pointed me toward two authors who they thought had done it well. I'm always looking to improve, so I got one of the books out of the library and began to read.
Now there is no denying that the writing was good, and the author could paint a picture and really describe the fantasy world that the reader was being introduced to. But for me there was too much description. The story didn't actually start until page 27 of a 29 page chapter. I know there are people who love the detail, and it really was lovely, but I'm not interested in the history of the culture, or descriptions of the surroundings - I want story. I realised then that perhaps my story wasn't a great fit for that publisher, if that's what they want.
It's quite interesting that the rejection should arrive this month, because on my inspirational writing quotes calendar for September is this quote retrieved from GoodReads:
This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'to the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'not at this address'. Just keep looking for the right address.
That's not to say I'll ignore the feedback entirely. I will definitely look up the second author they suggested and see if he has the same level of detail, and I'll also look at my manuscript to see if there are places where I can add an extra brushstroke or two of detail, because I'm aware that I tend to skip the description.
It really is important to review feedback you receive, even if at first you may not like it, because it may turn out to be helpful. I don't think I will ever add the level of detail that this publisher is after though, because it would bore me as a reader. So while it's important to analyse feedback, it's also important to choose what is right for the story you're trying to tell. Everyone has different opinions and if you tried to please them all, your manuscript would end up a mess. But take the feedback you think fits, and use it to make your manuscript shine.