June 25, 2015 -  

My first rejection was a sad admittance.  I had started off on a path that nagged at me.  I had thought as I fell further down the rabbit hole that this story was off the mark for the open call I had decided to submit to, yet I persevered.   It was partially pride, a bit of curiosity with a hint of drive to completion.  Up to that point I was three for three.   I considered switching ideas for submissions. I had set myself a goal to explore a variety of publishing paths from self through to full service, so a switch wouldn’t throw me too far from my mark.  There was a fairy tale call with Excessica. I thought I might be able to submit the story I had been working on, Mistress Charm’s New Pupil, for that call and draft a new story for Ellora’s Cave. I permitted myself excuses-there were differences in the length requirements; I wrote too much for one and nothing for the other.

I dedicated my efforts wholeheartedly to finalizing Mistress Charm’s New Pupil and submitted it last week, under a slightly different name.  The automated email acknowledgement indicated that there was a significant delay due to overwhelming submissions.  Imagine my surprise when less than one week later, I receive a polite thanks but no thanks message, which lacked any discernible reason why mymanuscript was not a fit for the publishing house.  One of my main struggles as an early erotica author has been the plethora of publishers and dearth of business related information for these publishers.  I want to know a publishing house’s monthly sales volume; active author base, typical time on the market to sales, repeat customer frequency.  I want a peek into your business just as I provide you a glimpse into my work when I submit a manuscript! I am hiring you as much as you are hiring me.  What should I expect and how good are you at your job?  If I pay one publishing house 10% of my profits and another 65% what does that buy me?

So my reply from Ellora’s Cave went something like, “…(your submission) is not right for us or our readers.” They wrapped up the delivery with a lovely consolation prize that this rejection didn’t preclude me from submitting something else.  I was left curious why a publishing house would offer authors an opportunity to keep spinning their wheels and fail to provide any substantial reasoning why the manuscript doesn’t fit.  If a publishing house has limited resources and the authors submitting have limited resources, doesn’t it make sense to provide specifics?  From a business perspective, this should limit resubmissions that are off mark and reduce the time wasted overall, especially if the author’s topic or general writing style is the issue.

I pushed.  I replied back politely and asked if there was any additional information that they could provide me.  The submissions replied that there were no comments provided by the initial reviewer.  I appreciate that the submissions representative responded.  Unfortunately, the response did nothing to lessen the increasing disappointment I felt with the publishing house.  Not only did they decline my submission based on only one review; they didn’t even require the purported reviewer to support their decision.

My story has a happy ending (for now) as this was the incentive I needed to push me into self-publishing.  I have an author page and am officially self-published on Amazon! I am still on the fence with whether I would like to attempt to submit another narrative to this publisher.  My experience may have been an anomaly or their standard par for the course.

Perhaps what is needed is yet another publishing house? I would argue that as authors we deserve transparency for the premium we pay to work with and through publishing houses. Tell us how you do.  Sell us on your services as much as we have to sell you on our dream weaving, grammar, sentence structure and plot line.   Post your data concerning the activities of the house.  If there were a large enough following and authors bought into it, there would be pressure for other houses to follow suit.

To Those Who Push Desires and Limits and Dream to be DesireBound…Would you support a publishing house that was transparent with you about business?