Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Memoir Rejection

After editing my memoir manuscript one more time, I recently made a last ditch effort to send proposals to ten small presses, and I have so far received rejections from three.

Two of these rejections were from long-shots, and I pretty much expected them.  But one was from a press I really had my heart set on.  It seemed to be the perfect match for my work, and I daydreamed about how great it would be to be published by this press.  

So when I got their rejection on December 21 - just days before Christmas - it really hurt.  I was disappointed, disillusioned, and also annoyed that they couldn't have waited a week, or until after the new year to send their email rejection.

But what really irked me is that the person who sent the rejection took the time to write about how much she liked my work.

"...  you are a wonderful wordsmith.  I enjoyed the sample chapters you sent...  While I find the story interesting, I cannot express further interest.  Memoirs are indeed a hard genre for publishers;markets have been saturated and we have trouble getting the sales that we need.  I am sorry to write this disappointing news; it is more of a business decision than a critique of the work." 

When I complained about this rejection to my friends they all said how wonderful it was for me to get such a nice response.  What?!!??!   This response infuriated me.  I have been rejected in spite of being a "wordsmith," and in spite of writing an interesting story.  If this editor is sincerely being honest, than I can only conclude that the reason my work has been rejected is because my story is in the form of a memoir.

Can that be true??   Has the memoir genera sunk so low in respect that it is now being summarily rejected?   (Excepting those which are guaranteed to sell a million copies, of course.)

This rejection came from a university press.  Not a big publishing house.  And so you'd think they'd be interested in literary merit.  But apparently not.

I was also annoyed by the statement about the market being saturated with memoirs.  That's a lie.  I love reading literary memoir.  It's my number one choice in reading material.  And I can't find enough of it.  The problem is that the market is saturated with too much self-published crap. I'm afraid the memoir genera is now too often associated with poorly written, self-indulgent stories of woe. And what a shame that is.