rejectedOn The Millions, would-be published author Edan Lepucki writes about her experiences dealing with the rejection of her manuscript by multiple publishers. It’s a wryly humorous piece about the thought process behind accepting that publishers don’t want a book, putting it in a drawer, and moving on.

One of the points Lepucki touches on is a lack of desire to try to self-publish. She cites the necessity of doing a lot of extra work that would otherwise have been done by the publisher, the difficulty of making money in self-publishing, and the stigma attached to it. She writes, “The truth is, I want a reputable publishing house standing behind my book; I want them to tell you it’s good so that I don’t have to.”

There are a number of posts in the comments that follow urging her to give self-publishing a try (including one by J.A. Konrath, who insists that traditional publishing is on its last legs). And there’s a response post on the “Branding Yourself” blog which suggests that the stigma only applies to writers, not readers, and points out that even if a “reputable publishing house” does publish a book, the author ends up doing all her own promotion anyway unless she’s a big name.

Lepucki herself replies in the comments that she has further opinions on self-publishing that she could elaborate on in a later post, but is not one to rule out options forever. Still, it doesn’t sound as if she’s exactly eager to give it a try.

Self-publishing may not be for everyone. As Lepucki points out, it is a lot of work. It’s up to every individual author to decide whether he wants to give it a shot. A number of authors have found it worked very well for them, but undoubtedly others have found it did not. Much as I find the idea of self-publishing attractive, I’ve grown wary of one-size-fits-all solutions.

Still, perhaps one day Lepucki might consider giving it a shot. If nobody else will take her manuscript, it’s not as if she’s got all that much to lose except a little time and effort.


  1. If Lepucki feels that only the stamp of approval of traditional publishers will satisfy her… and she’s not getting that… the question is answered: Pull over and shut off the engine. I personally think she should consider the fact that publishers are not perfect, and that other works have gone on to critical and financial success despite being turned down by traditional publishers. Whether she wants to do the work of self-publishing is up to her, but I agree that she’d have to do most of it anyway through a traditional publisher in order to succeed. Writers who believe “all I have to do is write” won’t get far in today’s marketplace.

  2. I want to read books by authors who really want to share their work with the world, who have enough faith in themselves and their art to keep trying despite being smacked down a few times. Self-publishing now makes it possible for truly dedicated writers to get their creations out to the public no matter what the traditional gatekeepers think, and if Lepucki doesn’t have the belief in herself and her story to take advantage of this opportunity than I have to question how much effort she really put into her book, and how committed she really is to her craft. Give me the folks who don’t take no for an answer and self-publish for next to nothing just to get the words they want to share out there, any day.

  3. Having a manuscript rejected does not mean that anyone actually looked at it. And as far as traditional publishing goes, almost all popular and/or great books were rejected numerous times. Think of the numbskulls out there that rejected Harry Potter.

  4. I think it’s fair to say that self-publishing _can be_ a lot of work. Or self-publishing can be a matter of about $300 to get a reasonable cover and formatting done (plus $1,000-2,000 in editing costs if you don’t have a suitably qualified beta network) and that’s it. ESPECIALLY for an author who is published already, who has readers who will read their traditionally published work and look for other books by them. You don’t have to spend thousands of hours networking and promoting. That’s entirely optional. [And there’s plenty of debate about how much effect it has on sales anyway.] Put it out there, sell a copy a month – it’s still more than you’d get if it’s sitting in a drawer.

  5. Hi Chris, I’d be interested to find out if the publishers actually replied, and whether any of the comments were helpful. My experience of publishers is that they just don’t reply when they reject a manuscript, and they give no reasons. Therefore, you have no way of knowing what is or is not suitable for that particular publisher. Leaving the author feeling dirty and the most important thing, uneducated about what a publisher thinks of her or his writing. Publishers are simply too focused on what sells, not all but most of them, hence the reason many are soon going to fall over, like so many other industries that are not willing to listen to their suppliers of customers.

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