Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The aspiring writer's glossary

Earlier this week I put the following on my Facebook status update: "Diane got a champagne rejection today, so she's feeling pretty good." I got quite a few questions as a result (I guess that was my intention, to get attention), mainly, "what's a champagne rejection"? When you've been pursuing publication as long as I have (at least 5.5 years), you forget that not everyone is privy to all the fun code words and acronyms that you know.* So I thought I'd create a short glossary for those of my friends who may wonder what the heck I'm doing. And rather than be boring and alphabetical, I'm going to list my definitions in a kind of chronological order, following the path of a manuscript.
query/query letter: in which you have a couple of paragraphs to describe your work and pique an editor/agent's interest.

SASE: self-addressed stamped envelope; what you usually send with your snail mail query, except now some publishers don't even bother to reply if they're not interested. And what makes your heart sink when you find it in your mailbox, because it means "rejected" (and it looks like you sent a letter to yourself, which is even more pathetic).

unsolicited manuscript: a piece which the editor/house has not requested. Many publishing houses no longer accept unsolicited/unagented manuscripts, which means you must either have an agent, or meet the editor at a conference somewhere.

slush/slush pile: the stack (and I do mean stack, read the link) of unsolicited manuscripts that editors have to wade through before finding/overlooking your gem. Oh, and agents, too. You can avoid the slush by getting an agent to send out your work, but you have to make it through their slush pile first....

form rejection: an impersonal form letter. Particularly soul-crushing.

champagne rejection: a personal rejection with kind words; ie, the editor/agent rejects your material, usually because "it's not quite right for us," but says something nice about your writing or invites you to submit something else.

partial/full request: the editor/agent was intrigued by your query and wants to see sample chapters (partial) or the whole thing. I've had full requests on one novel by one editor (who eventually rejected it, "not enthusiastic enough") and one agent (still waiting to hear the outcome).

acceptance/offer: I'm still waiting to find out what this one means.
That's all I can think of right now. If any of my writer friends think of one I've missed, please put it in the comments section.

*I lie. You don't forget, especially when you see novice writers making silly mistakes. Then you laugh at them and try not to remember you were that clueless once. It may be mean, but when you've been suffering rejections for 5.5 years, you need something to make you feel you're not the worst of the worst.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I went to the link for slush pile - quite a vivid description. Sounds a bit like parts of my house.