Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An unexpected rejection

So this is funny . . .

Last year Harper Voyager announced they were accepting unsolicited submissions for a 2-week period in October. And I got Prodigal Prince (titled Prodigal Son at the time) ready and sent it whoosh! into cyberspace. With hope, but not expecting any WE LOVE YOUR BOOK HERE'S A MILLION DOLLAR ADVANCE kind of response.

Then nothing, and if I recall correctly there was sort of a deadline for responses, which meant, "If you haven't heard from us, that pretty much means we said no." Fair enough. I figured they'd get a few thousand manuscripts, and that meant that weary slush-pile readers deserved a break. At some point I realized that they were passing, and moved on.

(I submitted to Baen Books before this, and after a year I wondered if no response meant HELL NO, but I got up my courage at a convention to ask Eric Flint and he advised me to be patient. And a few months after I received what was actually a pretty nice rejection letter, not exactly a form letter, so I guess it was right to wait a while.)

Then today I got an email from Harper Voyager saying, yes, they were passing on my book. On the one hand, it's been a year and I pretty much figured they'd declined, so why are you sending me this now?

On the other hand, just as I'm writing this I thought maybe they'd held off on rejecting it because they saw something in it that made them not hurl back a rejection letter outright. So, okay. In college I was once advised to try to find a way to turn what I saw as a negative into something positive. So maybe that's how I should look at this. Anyway, at least I got a response, which maybe says something good about the experience.


  1. Okay. My reactive mind is saying "indecisive wankers", while my sensible side agrees that the delay might have been a positive sign. Maybe - without looking too needy - one could solict constructive criticism. A what-was-missing kind of inquiry. If they come back with a requirement for more sex and larger mammaries, don't tell me. I'm grumpy enough. Press on, John. JKH

  2. I doubt if they're indecisive, just overworked. Like I said, I assumed it had been rejected. Which is what made yesterday's email more amusing than anything.

    And yeah, I'll keep on keeping on. Thanks.