In Publishing, Subjectivity is Real

Photo credit: Mat Simpson on Flickr
“Sorry, but this isn’t for me” are probably every writer’s least favorite words.

Writers hear it all the time: writing is subjective. And I think, even after you’ve heard it three dozen times and have kind of come to terms with it, it’s still frustrating when you get a rejection with the words “just isn’t right for me” in it.

I know that. And yet, the longer I work on the other side of the desk, looking at submissions rather than submitting them myself, the more I’ve come to realize that everyone who ever told me writing is subjective was painfully right.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across something that was written well that just didn’t grab me—and that goes for published works, as well. Books that some people rave about I’ve put down after a couple pages—and on the flip side, books that I’m obsessed with, I’ve had friends put down halfway through, or say it was just “okay.”

As is the case with just about any art, subjectivity is a very real thing. And something I had to frequently remind myself while I was on submission was every “not for me” rejection was okay, because it meant that editor wasn’t the right editor for my book. And yeah, it still sucked, and yeah, it was still disappointing, but as long as I focused on finding the editor who fell in love with my book, it was okay.

Because that’s what you want. You don’t want someone whose underwhelmed by your story—you want someone obsessed with your world, and your characters, and the writing, and everything about that manuscript. You want someone who will champion your work to the ends of the Earth. You’re not looking for someone whose apathetic about your work, or even likes your work—you're looking for someone who loves it.

Writing, as it turns out, really is subjective. And while that can be really hard to accept, especially when your inbox is filling up with “not for me” rejections, know that in the end, it’s okay, because it only takes one yes.

What do you think? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
Tired of hearing "sorry, but this isn't for me"? @Ava_Jae shares her thoughts on subjectivity and publishing. (Click to tweet)

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