February 9, 2012


When my original publisher for “Trompe l’Oeil”* closed, I sent my manuscript to another small press in the hope they would pick it up. Soon after, however, I found a local publisher who accepted not only the new manuscript but agreed to reprint “Gothic Spring” — which will again be available within the next two weeks. The good news wiped my memory clean and so I was surprised when, after a month or two, I received a rejection letter from the original submission. Naturally, I was embarrassed — not because of the rejection — but because etiquette had required me to alert this first company that my work was no longer available.  Having neglected to do so, I’d made a grievous error. To make matters worse, the publisher had been thoughtful enough provide the reason for the rejection:

          “Nicely written but… might prove too difficult to read for an American audience.”

Too difficult for an American audience? My jaw dropped. Naturally, I wrote back to apologize for having failed to withdraw the manuscript sooner, and as there is still a mischief in me, I assured her my new publisher saw no problem for an American audience. To my surprise, the woman e-mailed back:

          “I was sure you’d find someone. Excellent book in my opinion, but the committee doesn’t always agree with me.” (The vote had been 2-2)

Many of you have written that one day you hope to try your hand at a memoir or a novel. I’d like to encourage that and so I share this recent experience to let you know that rejection doesn’t always say something about your work. Sometimes it says something about the publisher. 

 *pronounced: tromp loy and means “to fool the eye.”