Nelson Vidinha requested your answer:
Is it acceptable practice to contact a publisher to double-check they’ve rejected a manuscript?
I get multiple requests to answer questions concerning publishing. It’s good to know that people are interested. True publishing is a dying art, and many authors are turning to self-publishing. Not because it is better money, it is because they get turned down by a publisher, or publishers, and decide to go it alone. And this move usually rewards poorly because their manuscript not being ready for publishing.
The reason for the manuscript not being ready for publishing, or for the turndown, could be based on several issues. To contact a publisher and ask, “Are you sure you’re going to reject my manuscript?” is just another way to justify the rejection in the publisher’s eyes.
You may ask why, and that is justifiable. Let me ask you what do you do when your child keeps asking the same question repeatedly? Do you keep answering them or do you get annoyed and tell them to stop? If you are the person who keeps answering them, well, I’ll call you out on that. Kids are, by design, supposed to be annoying. That’s why you kick them out of the house. Having someone constantly ask you a question looking for a different answer is trying to get you to explode, or change their answer.
When someone says no to you, it is not likely they will change their mind. It is the way of life. And when a publisher decides not to publish a manuscript, that is their choice, not yours. Be grateful that they took the time to reply to your submission, for there are many publishers out there that will not even do that.
It would surprise you at how much work, effort, and money goes into editing a manuscript. Editors cost approximately $1.24 per page, or per 325 words. No joke. That’s what we’re worth. And any publisher worth their value will do 2-4 edit runs with the author in order to clear up issues. Then the work goes to SPaG (Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar). This is a specialized area of editing and costs money.
Now imagine being asked by someone you don’t know why you are unwilling to spend $2-5,000 on their work in order to get it published after telling them you are not interested in it.
Years ago, SG Graham, the submissions manager for my publishing company, used to send authors helpful hints on why their manuscript was rejected. She no longer does such. Not because she is no longer wanting to be helpful, she’s very nice and loving. No, she no longer does it for she does not want the backlash that a majority of authors give.
A few years ago, SG sent a rejection notification to an author saying, “We cannot accept your manuscript for publication. I suggest going over the manuscript and formatting it so it is not one paragraph without end. The story seems interesting, but needs refinement before submitting. Please resubmit once the outlined issues are addressed.” The author’s response was disgusting. They hammered insults at SG for being nice enough to suggest fixing the work before resubmitting it. When she brought this to my attention, I instituted using a no-reply email address for responding to authors and a generic rejection format.
So you can see that asking a publisher if they are sure they rejected the manuscript after getting a rejection is not a good idea. I suggest taking the rejection, and if there are any suggestions, taking them to heart as well, and moving on. Most authors, on average, will receive 15 rejections before being accepted for publication. And you don’t know why you are being rejected, don’t sweat it, just be happy they read, or attempted to read, your manuscript.