Dealing with Proposal Rejection

So I sent my Professor Burnout proposal to the publisher I thought most likely to appreciate the potential of the book. After about six weeks of waiting to hear back, I found out they had decided to pass. There was no Reviewer 2 with harsh criticism, just a rationale for rejection that made sense in their case.

Not gonna lie, it hurt. While I understood their rationale, that didn’t mean I had to necessarily agree with it or like it, especially when I feel so strongly that this book needs to be written and could potentially help a lot of people. But we all know that’s how academic publishing works, from conference proposals to articles to books. And while our edited collection got picked up on the first try, Agile Faculty was rejected at least four times before Chicago picked it up.

I knew this particular book might be a hard sell. The hybrid genre of memoir, narrative, research, workbook, and advice is definitely not traditional. And the topic could be seen as very depressing if not handled well. But again, I believe in this book, my ability to write it, and the enthusiasm of those who responded to my CFP to be included.

I let myself be sad for a day, reached out to a couple of academic friend groups for feedback and support, but then went right back in to revise the proposal and sample chapter a bit before sending it to another publisher. After some social media inquiries, I found one press that might work and will reach out to the publisher of my edited collection to see if they might be interested as well.

So as I write this, I’ve updated the materials and sent them off to the next publisher. If you send your proposal out and get a rejection back, I hope you will not to be discouraged. Get some additional feedback from people you trust. Send email inquiries to a few other publishers to see if they might be interested in reviewing the full proposal. Revise as necessary (without harming the integrity of your vision, of course).

Have patience, continue to believe in your idea, but try not to tag your self-worth onto whether you get a book contract or not. I know that can be difficult especially in places that require a book for tenure. But any rejection you get should come with advice for improving the project, and if it doesn’t reach out the editor to find out more about why so you can address it in the next time you send it out.

And if you just want an ear to commiserate with you, I’m here – let’s chat.

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