Pub Rants

Editor Rejection Remorse

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STATUS: It’s rather late but I’m thinking of squeezing in one quick sample page read before I call it quits for the night.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHO WILL SAVE YOUR SOUL by Jewel

This is rather like playing a round of Balderdash. Do you remember the party game where you are given a rather obscure vocabulary word and each player has to create a definition? The captain of the round then writes down the actual definition, mixes up the entries, and then the players get to vote on which entry is the real one.

You win points as a player if other players vote for your made-up explanation. If you vote for the real dictionary definition, then you win extra points as well.

So I though tonight we might play a little round of balderdash because editor rejection remorse rather sounds like a phrase that I made up. (In fact, I may very well have but surely I can’t be the first agent to call it such.)

It does occasionally happen and tomorrow I’ll talk about it but before then, come out and play and give the definition your best shot. What do you think it means?

46 Responses

  1. Steena Holmes said:

    Ok, I’ll play 🙂 It’s late and I’m not tired!

    Editor Rejection Remorse:
    A writer who has rejected the thought their manuscript needs serious editing before submitting to an agent. It also includes the agent who has to read said manuscript and realizes the writer wears rose colored blinders.

  2. M. K. Clarke said:

    Yeah, I’ll play, too, and I’m just getting punchy. 🙂

    I’m biased. I got hate mail tonight on this very topic. But I’m also going to remember her name when I attend conferences. . . 🙂

    Editor Rejection Remorse:
    When an editor remembers a writing diva’s name and talks to insiders at conferences.

    **insert eee-bill chuckle here**

  3. mikandra said:

    I’ll have a go. I think it might involve a difficult position for the agent:

    the agent has pitched a project to a publisher but, after some
    positive noises, dutifully relayed to ecstatic author, the editor has rejected it. The agent drags him/herself off to the author, tail between the legs, to explain why.

  4. Jen said:

    Hmm, it seems to me that editor rejection remorse could be remorse an editor feels for having rejected a project too quickly and then changed her mind only to discover that it had been snapped up by someone else.

  5. writeidea said:

    I’ll play too.

    Editor rejection remorse: watching the project you couldn’t quite decide to snap up get sold at auction for enormous sums.

  6. Amber said:

    Editor Rejection Remorse:
    The remorse an Editor feels when knowing they must reject a MS they know will sell big.

  7. Lady Heidi, Duchess of Kneale said:

    Similar to what others have said:

    The remorse an editor feels when they see a ms they turned down show upon the Times bestseller list.

    Compounded if they turned down the ms in favour of another that tanked.

  8. Andrew said:

    Editor Rejection Remorse
    Definition: The period of time between the crazed literary agent breaking into the editor’s house and the editor being battered insensate by 600 pages of MS.

    Word verification – destsm: The philosophy of removing an ‘i’ from the word variation to make a humorous description that much harder.

  9. Bernie said:

    Editor Rejection Remorse is a special type of chocolate chips used when making the traditional cookies that agents eat when a project that they love has been rejected by too many editors in a very short period of time.

  10. Mary Hoffman said:

    What an editor feels when she hasn’t been able to persuade the acquisitions meeting (i.e. Sales and Marketing) to greenlight a book she really believes in.

  11. BuffySquirrel said:

    Editor rejection remorse is when you take the trouble to write someone a personalised rejection, and they send insults in return. Also known as, “Why did I BOTHER?”

  12. K St.Jarre said:

    ERR: When an editor is at a party trying to convince people, with a sad smile and a chuckle, that she or he really DID reject the latest winner of the Pulitzer for fiction. “No, really, I did!”

  13. A. Grey said:

    Editors rejection remorse: When an editor rejects and idea simply because it’s not viable for the market, even if they like the idea, or the people behind themselves. The editor knows they’re not a bad person, and a good person would give these folks a chance, right? Only the editor doesn’t, because they have a job to do, which means sticking to what will sell.

  14. SharonK said:

    Editor – from the Latin editorispis, meaning wise one, one who reads much and sleeps little
    Rejection – derived from early Mayan dialect, el rejecto, meaning to turn down or away, also used to describe Montezuma’s revenge
    Remorse – from cold-war Russian remorshika, meaning whatever the KGB tells you it means.

    Loosely translated to English – I still can’t believe I not only turned down John Grisham and Stephen King with scathing critiques, but also sent form rejections to Jodi Picoult and Stephanie Myers.

    Am I close?

  15. reader said:

    Editor Rejection Remorse — an editor rolls her eyes while reading a submitted ms, and tosses it aside, saying it’s too quiet, or too familiar, or too different, or too fast-paced, or too slow-paced, or too plot-centric, or too character-centric and then…

    WHAM, BAM…

    Some other editor takes it as it is. Hardly changes a word.

    It catapults to critical acclaim and best seller lists.

    This calls into question the sanity and taste of the uptight editor into question. To relieve herself of the shaking feeling that she is undoubtely a hack, she goes on a bender and, months later, is found by a street cleaner in a gutter, disheveled and incoherantly muttering… Twilight… Harry Potter… Michael Chabon… Pulitzer prize, money, fame… mine for the taking… why… WHY?

    (And then and only then, does an editor understand how writers feel nearly every day.)

  16. Deb S said:

    Editor Rejection Remorse or ERJ: A debilitating condition afflicting certain publishing professional.
    Symptoms include green skin tone, uncontrollable cursing and general muttering.
    Treatment includes the consumption of multiple mojitos and a ritualized burning of the house style guide.

  17. ryan field said:

    When the editor is forced to reject more than one project because of cut backs and structural changes going on within the house.

  18. Anonymous said:

    What they feel after they attend a staff meeting where the group leader says what they are looking for in their next big book is exactly the one you just rejected and then you tell the group (quite forcefully) at the meeting you’ve got just that book and when you scurry back to make the call to take it back, learn that another publisher has snatched it up with the intent to make it their tent-pole book for the coming season. THAT is Editor’s Rejection Remorse.

  19. lake said:

    it means I’m sorry. Rejection always hurts no matter what and you regret to be the one that causes that pain. It’s your job. Sure you might have a little domme in you and like the control.. but actually causing people to hurt over rejection may get tedious.
    You do learn that people have to get over it, lifes always yes or no and eat or be eaten. At least in publishing lol. No worries babe.
    stay cool!

  20. Kristin Laughtin said:

    I’m going to guess before I read any of the comments:

    Editor rejection remorse: Simply, when an editor regrets not taking on a book, either because it has stuck in their mind more than expected or because it has gone on to be successful in the marketplace.

  21. Anonymous said:

    Editor rejection remorse: When an agent begins to regret taking on a project because a number of editors whom she respects reject the manuscript. This remorse is unrelated to the quality of the manuscript, but may strongly relate to its saleability.

  22. Eika said:

    Editor Rejection Remorse is when an editor, after giving a rejection, is filled with remorse because it becomes the next Harry Potter.

  23. ~Sia McKye~ said:

    Hmmm, editor rejection remorse…An aquiring editor that gave a pass on a pitched MS and then finds out it was picked up by another editor, published, and doing very well. First editor is kicking themselves for not stepping out of the box and picking it up.

  24. behlerblog said:

    Sia McKye has it spot on – at least in my world. Been there, almost done that. Luckily I had a Get Out of Jail Free card and was able to snap up the manuscript after initially rejecting it. Never been happier.

  25. Anonymous said:

    I’m definitely more of the school of thought as Ryan:

    remorse over a project under normal circumstances an editor would grab hold of, but currently doesn’t have the resources to take


  26. kathy said:

    Perhaps the rejection and subsequent remorse is not felt by the editor, but by the agent. An agent rejects an editor early on as a good fit for a manuscript, then later sells it to that same editor feeling remorse over the time lost???

  27. Matilda McCloud said:

    Hmmm…maybe editor rejection remorse is when an editor just loves something an agent has sent but ends up passing on it, and then sends a long-winded letter full of remorse and apology…and promises to wear a hairshirt forever to get back in the agent’s good graces?

  28. Shannan said:

    Fun post! I would think “Editor rejection remorse” would be one of two things:

    1) Having rejected something you thought was unsellable only to have it sell for a large chunk.

    2) Having to reject something you think is actually good and has great potential, but just isn’t something you can take on. Perhaps worrying that the author will be discouraged.

    Then again, I like M.K.’s idea of “eee-bill chuckles” at the idea of setting any kind of diva straight 😉 *mwah-ha-ha-ha*

  29. Shannan said:

    Ooh! Or,

    3) Editor takes on an author and his/her MS believing both to have promise, only to discover that the author is a diva who won’t hear of a single word being changed in her/his masterpiece – thus making the editor’s life hell?

  30. Mariana said:

    What about: remorse on having bought expensively a novel that doesn’t sell nearly as well as expected?

  31. blondie said:

    I’m guessing the answer’s already up, but how about something different:

    The remorse a writer feels for submitting directly to editors (and being rejected) before acquiring an agent. “You’ve been rejected by editor at X house, I can’t pitch the same work to them,” says her new agent.


  32. Kourtnie McKenzie said:

    Editor rejection remorse is when an editor that has been thinking about taking a project on for awhile finally decides after much anticipation that it is a no go.

  33. Dorothy said:

    Editor rejection remorse: Def. When an editor turns down a ms that eventually shows up on the NY Times best seller list and says,”Oh, balderdash. I should have bought it when I had the chance.”

  34. Deb said:

    “Tent pole book”? ROFL!

    ERR = when an editor regrets not only rejecting a book that became a huge success, but that book also becomes the prototype for a whole new and enormously successful subgenre. Needless to say, the rejected manuscript, and all its clones, make the actual publisher(s) more dollars than the number of mosquitoes in Florida.