It’s all about rejection. No, not online dating, but publishing: according to an editor I was chatting to last week, it’s an industry of rejection.
Let’s start from the beginning – authors may find they are rejected by agents or publishers, editors are rejected in-house when taking titles to acquisitions or by authors and agents when they offer. I had to tell two publishers last week that they had missed out on the project and it’s difficult news to break particularly since the hope is that this won’t be the end of a relationship, just that particular relationship is not going to work. More often than not it’s not actually about the individuals involved, but when does rejection not feel personal? Books, even when published, can be turned down by retailers, torn apart by reviewers and, the ultimate rejection possible, ignored by readers.
But that’s the worst-case scenario and just one way of looking at it. When it works, the number of people who get behind a book — who accept it! — is incredible. For a book to be published it needs a legion of fans. Starting with the agent and commissioning editor, the editorial team, sales and marketing then come on board. Scouts, foreign publishers, audio publishers, production companies, buyers, publicists, reviewers, librarians, teachers and of course readers, all joining the fan club.
An author and book’s success is secured by diving into the mosh pit and crowd surfing through a continually expanding fan club. Exhausting, yes, and there’ll be a few bruises along the way, but once the momentum starts to build and there are passionate supporters spreading the word, it isn’t actually about rejection at all.
Instead, it’s clear that publishing is an industry based on collaboration, peopled by an author’s most ardent fans wearing the T-shirt, badge and bookmark and poking passers-by with the poster.