Pub Rants

Editor Rejection Remorse (Definition)

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STATUS: Technology can make working effortless. When it’s not working, let me tell you what a headache it can be. What a miserable Wednesday.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HUNTING HIGH AND LOW by a-ha

I have to say that I got a kick out of reading all your definitions for editor rejection remorse. In fact, just about every entry had a terrific definition. No one quite nailed what I had in mind when I was coining the term but more on that in a minute.

In the comments, the most popular definition for editor rejection remorse was an editor who had turned down a manuscript only to later see it be really successful or hit the NYT list.

I think that would also be agent rejection remorse. Grin. Funny enough, I’ve had two books I passed on hit the NYT list and sure, I took a moment to second guess myself but the truth of the matter? I still don’t like either of those books. It so wasn’t right for me. But there is an upcoming release that I went back and forth, back and forth on and then passed—mainly because I was crunched for time and had to make a decision so I let it go. It’s building in buzz as of late so I’ll probably have good regret on that one. Oh well, I only have so many hours in the day.

And editors I’m sure have a moment’s pause as well but every editor I’ve asked said that they can’t spend too much time on things they passed on because maybe it took that certain house with that certain editor to have the vision to put that title on the bestseller list or to give it the good success it had.

Do we believe it? That’s the question….

Now I think it’s normal to have genuine regret if you are the editor who was the underbidder in the auction (as in the editor lost out but really wanted the project). That just plain sucks—especially if the editor did everything in his or her power to get the higher ups to go the distance and they didn’t. Nothing the editor can do there and then to see the project they really wanted be successful can be painful.

Now for me, here is the definition of editor rejection remorse I had in mind when I was typing up last night’s entry. This actually happened. I had an editor pass on a submission with a really glowing rejection letter. The editor used words such as “savored” this novel and “was mesmerized by the beautiful language.”

Yeah, I know. I still can’t believe that was a rejection letter.

A week later, the editor couldn’t stop thinking about the novel and so out of the blue, wrote me an email with an editorial revision letter for the author. The editor mentioned how she would very much like to see this novel again.

She was obviously having rejection remorse. Editors have a lot on their plates in any given day or week so the fact that it was still in the forefront of her mind a week later says a lot. Now whether that will than equal a sale is the crucial question.

14 Responses

  1. Leona said:

    Wow. That person wrote a book to remember, even by those in the business. Congratulate them for me! Good luck in getting the sale 🙂

  2. Being Beth said:

    That’s a framable rejection letter. Good luck to you and your client. When it comes out, I hope you’ll make a point to tell us it’s the “Editor Rejection Remorse” book. With those kind of glowing remarks in the rejection, I already want to read the book.

  3. Matilda McCloud said:

    Is there such a thing as Agent Rejection Remorse? If so, it’s one of my fantasies…an agent passes on my ms, but then the next week changes her mind…ahhh…to dream…

  4. Anonymous said:

    I wonder, Agent Kristen, whether you would have passed on those two bestsellers if you’d known in advance that they’d become bestsellers elsewhere. There is no quicker way to get an agent than to leave a phone message that says, “I have an offer on the table from a publisher a friend of mine got me into, are you interested?” That happened to a friend of mine and pretty much validated what Miss Snark always said. Or better yet, a self-published book with 5,000 sales that aren’t all to the author and his family.

    A friend of mine got an agent when he left a phone message saying, “I just got a movie deal on my unpublished trilogy due to my internal contacts and now I need an agent.” She called back and volunteered to rep him immediately. He regretted just letting her take it later because she’s turned out to be a lazy agent who doesn’t shop his trilogy around (the first movie is still in the making but the trilogy is as yet unsold to an editor. He is working with another agent now.) I don’t think she even read his trilogy, so she hardly “fell in love with it.”

  5. lake said:

    remorse is remorse
    of course of course
    where would we be
    without remorse
    putting the cart
    before the horse
    and all of it’s simply
    par for the course
    to be famous
    and to be read..
    and along those lines
    because of the remorse
    I see her grace shine…

    oh what a beautiful soul and
    her grace shines sweetly all day
    her eys do sparkle as though
    there’s happiness on the way
    her love does abound in the evening
    and it’s like her to simply say
    my mercy is everlasting
    and her grace shines sweetly today!
    (sometimes, instead of remorse,
    of course)

  6. Rebecca Knight said:

    Lake, I love the Remorse Mr. Ed theme :D!

    I’ve never really put myself into an editor’s shoes to think about a) how many novels they get that they probably enjoy but are on the fence about and b) that they’re sad when they make the wrong call for them, like anyone else would be.

    Because everyone’s so overworked, I’m sure there’s a lot of this.

    Shots of whiskey for all editors/agents with remorse!

  7. nkrell said:

    Life is too short to worry about those kinds of things. I like to think that things happen for a reason. Does this mean that I don’t get down about rejection? No, but you have to look at the big picture. (Yep, my glass is still half-full!)

  8. Kathleen Dante said:

    Your definition was the first thing that came to mind, actually. Because that’s what happened with my first book and it took 3 months for the “pass” to become “buy”. =)

  9. Diana Peterfreund said:

    That happened to a friend of mine. The Publisher called a YEAR later with a plan to publish the book split up (her problem was that it was way, way, WAY too long to work as a book).

    The second part hit the NYT and propelled the first part on, and she’s been hitting the list with every release since.

  10. Maureen McGowan said:

    I had an editor come back for a second crack at one of my projects. Alas, did not end in a sold story for me. 🙁 Hope you and your client fare better.