I am not obsessed with rejection, but…


I found myself on the other side of the desk this week.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how uncomfortable it is to wait for rejection/acceptance after submitting a piece of your writing. And then when I got a rejection from one of the publishers, I wrote a piece about how rejection ultimately makes us stronger as writers and as people. I don’t mean to harp on this theme, but I got a chance this week to be the one dashing other people’s dreams.

Here’s the scenario:

I am the marketing manager at a relatively small book publisher in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since I work in marketing and not editorial, I have a limited voice in deciding which books are published and which are not. What I do have power over is deciding what to do when people ask for review copies of our products. Asking for a review copy is essentially the same thing as asking the publisher for free stuff.

The purpose of a review copy is for an organization or an institute of higher learning or some member of the press to give some publicity to the product in exchange for getting the product for free. I would guess that a lot of review copy requests get approved, but the cost of a book is a cheap price to pay for the potential that a good review can have on that book’s sales.

But this week, I received a request for a review copy and I don’t feel right about sending free products. For one thing, the request had spelling errors, which I think reflects negatively on the ability of sender to produce the type of review that will entice others to buy our stuff. And the other reason that I am disinclined to send free stuff is that the organization requesting the materials didn’t have a quality website and the other reviews that were shown there weren’t professional.

Now, I don’t like saying no to people, but for the sake of the products for which I am responsible, I have to. But I don’t have a nice form letter made up to say no without hurting anyone’s feelings. What I do have is a plan.

I’m going to send out a slew of review copy requests to a number of publishers. My blog will be my platform. I review books on here semi-regularly, so it isn’t beyond possibility that a request might be granted. Best of all, I’d be just as happy with a rejection letter as I’d be with actually getting a free product, because the rejection letter would give me ideas on how to reject such requests tactfully.

I’m making a list now of stuff that I want. I’ll keep you posted about how the requests turn out.

What is the nicest rejection letter you ever got?

4 thoughts on “I am not obsessed with rejection, but…

  1. Hey you should try sending one to Lego as well given you promote the little figures in your writing prompts, maybe try Big Finish for some Doctor Who audio? Marvel for, well anything? I think you have to go big on this as well as just trying small publishers on the ground that a) you never know who might say yes b) free stuff is always cool and you certainly won’t get anything if you don’t ask and c) you can compare the type of response you get from different size companies 😀

  2. Are you looking for nice rejection letters in response to a submission to a journal? If so, here’s one I got that I appreciated because it seemed like a personal letter, not just a form letter:

    Dear Rachel,

    Many thanks for submitting to Structo, but unfortunately we will not be using this poem in our upcoming issue.

    I’m afraid I don’t have much in the way of feedback other than to say that it simply didn’t click with our reviewers. But the response to poetry is so subjective—I wish you all the best finding a home for it elsewhere.

    Best wishes,
    Euan Monaghan

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