Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

What I said the other day about not wanting to jump off the same bridge as everybody else? I guess it doesn't apply to blogging.

Thursday Thirteen - Why I Rejected Your Book

I don't like rejecting manuscripts. I'm an author myself, I've felt the disappointment of receiving that thin letter back from the agent/publisher saying thanks but no thanks. In my rejections I try to be as polite as possible, but I don't offer details. This is because I don't want to say one thing and have the author read another, nor do I have time to banter over semantics ("You published XYZ but you won't contract mine?" That sort of thing.).

Nevertheless, duty does call for me to do so at times, and authors still ask, so here are thirteen possibilities as to why I had to regretfully pass on your work. Mind you, eight times out of ten the quality of the work is not a factor. I've passed up on some great works.

1) It's not erotic. Phaze publishes erotic romance, not inspirationals. Readers want the naughty bits as often as possible. If I receive a 100K word book where the only sex scene is in the last two paragraphs, and if there's no place to put more, chances are I'll pass.

2) It's not romantic. While we do have a few erotic titles that aren't necessarily HEA, the works had some merit or some element that I thought might appeal to our readership. Overall, however, our readers like the heat and the romance. If I don't find the right balance, and I can't see a way to make the balance, chances are I'll pass.

3) It's plotless smut. I'm at the point where I can tell with some synopses that I'm going to open a work that might as well be titled Dear Penthouse. Works like that do well in certain markets, but they just don't resonate with our readers.

4) It contains one of our taboos. Underage Nazi hero necrophiliacs humping dogs while showering golden on their sisters...ah, no.

5) You used a priest. Sorry. You can take the girl out of the Vatican....yada yada. This is my personal squick, and I just can't let it pass. It's not you, Father, it's me.

6) We've done it already. It came to pass not long ago I had to turn away a nice piece, because we already had two very similar stories. It was a very tough decision to make, and while I'm certain the work was written without knowledge of the previously published works, I had other factors to consider. Now, I might be more accommodating if such a situation happens again, it will depend on the climate.

7) We did it, and it didn't work. We consider most genres of erotic romance. Unfortunately, some genres don't do well as others. This puts me in the awkward position of having to turn away works based on the presumption that we won't see a good ROI on them because of the genre. It's a part of publishing I don't particularly enjoy -- the business end.

8) It's too short. We have a word minimum. We ask authors to acknowledge that. If you send a work under that count we are either going to reject or, if I like it, ask that you lengthen and resubmit.

9) It's poetry. Yes, we do have one title of verse for sale. All in-house authors, just something done for fun. Otherwise, unless you're sending something to Alessia for a Coming Together volume, we will not consider entire poetry books.

10) It's copyright infringement. I miss The X-Files, too, but I'm not publishing your Mulder/Scully humpfest because I don't want to get sued.

11) You didn't format it correctly. I will say this, I'm not the stickler my predecessor was where manuscripts were concerned. If she saw a margin out of place, it was going back. Me, I'm more relaxed, but if I receive a 60K word book done entirely in some cutesy flower script, it's going back.

12) It didn't "click". The catch-all reject. Your work could be extremely well-written. Good characters, good dialog, etc. But there might be something there that I don't think would work for us. Maybe the story didn't excite, or maybe the sex didn't arouse me. Maybe the work is just too long or too short for the story. In the case of too short, I might send back for a revision. For a work over 150K, I might consider sales potential.

13) Blame it on intuition. Mind you, my intuition isn't always 100%. That's all I have to say about that.

This said, I'll close by saying don't be afraid to ask a publisher or editor to clarify guidelines. Remember, publishers want to read works. Publishers stay in business because of authors; we're not here to feed on egos and gleefully dash hopes. What you have written is very good, it's just a matter of finding the right fit.


imogen howson said...

Oh, lol. The priest/erotic thing would squick me too. I cringe when I see those sexy nun/ priest costumes for sale--it's just wrong!

Chloe Devlin said...

I think that's a good list and I like your explanations. Thanks!


Shelley Munro said...

It's interesting that many people don't seem to follow the guidelines. I mean formating and that sort of thing is always stated clearly on websites. It's not that difficult to follow the instructions.

December said...

This is good stuff!! Underage Nazi hero necrophiliacs humping dogs while showering golden on their sisters isn't really my thing either. I'm sure there is a webpage out there for these folks.

Thanks for the Chuckle!

Gina Ardito said...

Hard to believe you have to explain this to some people. But I know you do. Now, I think I need a shower. LOL

Robin L. Rotham said...

Wow, authors argue with you over rejections? That's nervy. I take my lumps and move on.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Very nice summary. And helpful for authors too.

Debbie Mumford said...

Excellent list. Honesty is always appreciated.

Dana Belfry said...

LOL I love this list!

The priest thing freaked me out. So did the sister shower thing. *shudder*

I couldn't do your job.

Adelle said...

Thanks for taking the time. Muchly appreciated.

Heather said...

Great list! Rather irritating when people don't take the time to actually read the guidelines or do proper research before submitting their material, isn't it?