No, I didn’t cry. My heart sank, I moped, stuffed a few Oreos in my mouth, sent out some emails so I could be reassured I didn’t suck, ate a few more Oreos, then moped some more.
Why was the story rejected? To make a long story short, the editor didn’t like the hero’s backstory (he competed on a reality dating show) and felt readers wouldn’t buy him as a heroic character.
To be perfectly honest, I was flabbergasted when she first told me this. By no means do I think I'm a perfect writer. I can point out the flaws in my writing and the story with little to no help from anyone else. I know this manuscript isn’t perfect. But this flaw is something I never considered. I conjured up this story idea years ago, and I’ve never once thought it was a bad idea.
I understand that it is very easy for reality show people to be unlikeable. Trust me, I’ve disliked plenty of them. But there are some contestants who I’ve absolutely adored, and I took some of their best qualities and imbued my hero with them. As they say, “He was there for the right reasons.” :)
No, I’m not saying the editor was wrong. She’s the editor of that line and knows and understands readers’ and the line’s expectations a whole lot better than I do. Obviously. LOL.
But I did learn a few lessons that will help me in the future.
1. Know the line/house you’re targeting inside and out. It’s one thing to read the line. It’s quite another to study it. The editor’s point (and I’m doing a little assuming here) is that the line promises readers’ a fantasy, especially when it comes to the hero.The reality show was a little too real because readers know that world. Everyone has heard of The Bachelor and probably has an opinion on it, whether or not they watch the show, and for many people it’s not positive. I’ve read the books from the line I'm targetting, but I haven’t studied them as critically as I should. That’s going to change.
2. Everything isn’t going to appeal to everyone. There are some topics that are going to push people’s buttons and often you won’t know until you get that rejection letter. Or, in my case as a reader, I put your book down and refuse to buy it. There’s a popular, contemporary romance writer who has a series out I have no intention of reading. I’ve read and enjoyed her books in the past, but I can’t get past the subject matter in this series. I know the author LOVES it because I follow her on Twitter, but I just can’t.
3. Love what you write, but be willing to take advice. I’m passionate about the subjects I’ve written about, and I hope that shines through. However, the editor made some valid points that I plan to incorporate into this manuscript and future ones. If you don't take the advice, know why and be able to articulate it. Being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn or thinking your writing is perfect isn't going to cut it.
Will this book ever get published? The better question is will any of my books get published? I don’t know, but I don’t intend to stop pursuing it any time soon.
I think this story still has merit. I’m letting the rejection marinate for a while and then I plan to reopen the document and perform some surgery and send it elsewhere. I might feel differently if it gets rejected by everybody in the publishing world, but for now I choose to remain positive about it and take the lessons I’ve learned to heart.