One of the unexpected consequences of starting a micro press and opening for submissions is needing to create a form rejection letter. We’re getting really wonderful queries so far, but since we’re only planning to publish two or three books each year, we’ll be making some very tough decisions in the next few months.
And in case you’re reading this and getting your hopes up, I’m only accepting queries from Oregon authors. (This is what I’m looking for.)
Our surge of popularity has a lot to do with the famous (and famously wonderful) Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, posting the Forest Avenue Press call for submissions to her Facebook and Twitter accounts last week. We had an exponential increase in interest, and a subsequent number of queries arrive in our submissions inbox.
And this is just the beginning!
The submissions period ends March 1, so I have some time. But I’m thinking about how to write rejections when the time comes, because from a numbers perspective, that’s going to have to happen. Being a very small press, I would like to give people personal notes explaining about taste, or a particular thing I like about a query, or the one sticking point. On the other hand, there’s something familiar and comforting about a standard rejection letter.
How do you like your rejections? Do you really want to know the story behind them if it’s presented professionally and (ideally) with a compliment? Or is more flat/anonymous easier to swallow? Would you be annoyed to get a compliment in a rejection and wonder why, if the editor really liked X about your manuscript, why it was an ultimate pass? Would you understand a rejection that explained that this is a very small organization and our choices are primarily based on personal taste?
This is what I love about communities of writers–the chance to ask each other questions, motivate each other, commiserate (as needed!) and brainstorm.
To encourage you to bring those rejection stories out of your own personal closets, I’m going to give away two copies of Brave on the Page: Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life. I have some seconds–copies with slight streaking on the cover, or light streaks along the bottoms of the pages. The cosmetic flaws are very minor, and nearly invisible. They certainly don’t impact readability or even the overall quality and beauty of the books. I ended up with these copies because I didn’t notice the flaws when buying them from the printer, and now I don’t want to sell them for full price when I have clean, crisp fresh copies to sell. So I’ll be giving two of those copies away Monday morning, Jan. 14, around 9 a.m. Pacific Time. All you have to do is comment on this post. You can comment as many times as you want–and each one will count as an entry. I’ll use Random.org to pick the winners, and then I’ll notify them in the comments. If I can’t reach a winner to get an address within a reasonable amount of time I’ll pick another winner.
If you don’t win and want to buy a less-than-perfect copy of Brave on the Page, I’d be happy to sell one to you for $10 plus $5 shipping and handling (for envelopes and postage and such). So that’s $15 for a $14 book including shipping. If you’re interested, pop me an email at laurastanfill at hotmail dot com. We can figure out payment arrangements privately; I take credit cards through my trusty Square device, but I’d want to do that over the phone so credit card numbers aren’t floating around in cyberspace. I have a limited number of these copies, so first come, first served–and of course if we get a bunch of requests, I’m reserving the two for this giveaway.
So have at it. What’s your ideal rejection? What advice do you have for me, a newly minted gatekeeper?