Every writer who has ever submitted anything written to a publisher or magazine knows about rejection. Usually a form type "we don't want this" notice is sent, leaving the writer to wonder why the work was rejected, what was wrong, or what he can improve.
However, most writers lick their wounds in private or share with friends, without thinking of accosting the publisher or editor to complain. Most know that a thick skin is needed if they are to survive the publishing life. Most people know that the major publishers receive hundreds of thousands more submissions a year than they have places to fill. Small presses have to decide from 100 or more submissions which ten to accept. Therefore, publishers MUST choose the best-written of what is submitted: for fiction, the best story and most polished; for nonfiction, the best topic, organization, and most interesting. Submitters need to try to please those publishers, not expect publishers to please them.
What I have discovered is that more and more submitters have the mistaken idea that their work must be accepted by a publisher, and if a rejection is sent, he has the "right" to accost the editor rejecting his work, to argue as if to prove his manuscript deserves to be accepted no matter how poorly written. I wonder if those writers have the idea that publishers are service organizations required to accept anything and everything submitted.
4RV Publishing does something that many publishers do not: Our replies to writers, whether asking for a full manuscript or rejecting, includes suggestions and comments from the acquisition editor that allows the writer to know why something is rejected and to know how to improve his work.
Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, we received an email from an author whose submission was rejected after being evaluated by two acquisition editors, both whom gave reasons for their recommendation that we reject the manuscript. The author informed us that no one could make a decent decision without reading the whole manuscript, that we were wrong, that we were taking the stand we did because the work was Christian based. I usually ignore such unprofessional rants, but I decided to be nice and try to "educate" this person about being professional. What a waste of time. The person shot back a quick reply about how unprofessional I was to send a message on a holiday. Huh? That person could, but I couldn't reply during the same time period? Poor manners, and bad etiquette.
Let's look at some submission etiquette, especially regarding how to react to rejections.
1. Do not respond to a rejection unless to thank the editor for any helpful suggestions. NEVER argue with an editor or publisher. Never be hateful or vindictive.
2. Remember, the publishing world is relatively small, and word does get around when submitters are poor sports.
3. A particular piece of writing is being addressed and evaluated, not the author. Taking rejection personally does not help you be a better writer.
4. More material is submitted each year than all the publishers in the world could use. Therefore, publishers have the "right" to choose the best submissions and do NOT have to accept all submissions. Remember, publishing is a business, not a public service.
5. Just because family, friends, and a few others "like" the manuscript does not mean it is ready to be submitted and published. We had one submission that supposedly was pre-edited by a professional editor. It was full of punctuation problems, misspelled words, and lack of clarity. Be sure any "professional" does know what he/she claims.
The preceding five suggestions are not all that writers need to know, but they are a start. The biggest thing to remember is writers need to first write well, have a polished manuscript to submit, then submit knowing that rejection is a possibility.