Last month I was excited to receive an ultimate rejection letter from Beacon Press. Like most writers I’m a connoisseur of rejection letters. Since I’ve received so many, I figure I might as well appreciate them.
I’d sent a copy of my book, “Return to the One,” off to Beacon Press, The University of Chicago Press, and the State University of New York Press. I told them that on Amazon it was currently the #1 best selling title about the Greek mystic philosopher Plotinus. And this was with very minimal publicity/promotion.
I candidly admitted that I’d probably been wrong to publish “Return to the One” in a POD (print on demand) fashion. As good as the book is, most reviewers won’t even consider reviewing it because it’s tainted with the dreaded POD Mark of the Beast: Unclean! It's self-published! Quick, cast this work of the literary devil into the trash!
Most rejection letters include boilerplate language like “Although your work would no doubt be of interest to many…” (U of C Press) and “Your project seems to us to be an important one…” (SUNY Press).
Gee, guys, if it’s interesting to so many and so important, why don’t you publish it?! Oh, I forgot. You’re just trying to soften the smack of the rejection letter.
So beautiful. Nothing. A marvelous rejection letter literary device. I could make up my own rejectory language:
“Mr. Hines, we have read every word of your book with great enthusiasm. Truly, you have written a masterpiece. Sadly, we consider Beacon Press unworthy to publish such a work of genius. You deserve so much better than us. We could never live with ourselves if our acceptance of ‘Return to the One’ prevented it from being published by the most prestigious book company in the world. Hopefully you won’t mind that we have forwarded your book to ________ with our highest commendations, whom we expect you’ll be hearing from soon.”
Of course, another possibility is that Beacon Press’ rejection card printer ran out of ink at an inopportune moment. And it could even be that the back of the card was intended to say, “We are very much interested in publishing your book. Please contact us immediately to discuss the terms of our generous agreement.”
I suppose I should write Beacon Press and ask them to send me a non-blank card. But I’ve gotten attached to the nothingness of what I now have. I don’t think that I’m ever going to get a more Zen rejection notice. Maybe it’s time to quit while I’m behind.