I’ve heard a lot of grumbling in general regarding form letters. And it’s one of those grumbles that’s pretty constant and I think it always will be. It’s just “one of those things”. I see agents, authors, aspiring authors and publishers alike talk about it. (No, you’re not pre-published. Someone please make this term go away.)
The problem I run into, when I see these things, is that the author grumbles about a form letter on a blog or forum, and then grumbles about the feedback they do get. Hmmm… anyone see where I’m going with this? Anyone? Many publishers, such as Samhain, have been forced to move to using form rejection letters for that exact reason.
When I first started with Samhain a few years ago, it was a no-no to use a form rejection. Yes, we were able to every once in a while, but that was usually because we really had no feedback to give. Sometimes there really isn’t anything wrong with a book, per se, it just isn’t our cup of tea. And you’ll have that EVERYWHERE. It’s just part of this business. But it was expected of us to fairly evaluate a submission and give the author feedback as to why the manuscript didn’t work for us and what we suggested they work on.
There have been authors who have posted rejection letters and then picked them apart to point out how wrong the publisher is. (An aside…posting a rejection letter at all is pretty unprofessional. And yes, we look at potential authors websites and blogs. Unprofessionalism can and will cost you a contract. There’s always another book down the line just as good as yours, if not better.)
And after all of this, people grumble about getting a form rejection. Do I need to spell this one out? Publishers give form rejections because authors force us to. It’s really as simple as that. When we get negative feedback about our feedback on a manuscript, that means we’re not going to put the effort into a detailed rejection. Contrary to what many may think, a detailed rejection letter isn’t a snap to sit down and do. It takes a lot of time, thought and effort. And if we’re getting negative feedback in return, it’s a lot easier and quicker for us to send off a form letter.
Just some food for thought.
And no, I had no particular authors or publishers in my mind when writing this. It’s just a general post.