Orca Says No, But...

Four months after sending in the remaining chapters for Rosemary and Time, I finally heard back from Orca Book Publishers. The answer doesn’t have me jumping for joy, but there is some encouragement. This is what Maggie DeVries told me:

You must have despaired of ever hearing from me! I do apologize for the delay especially considering that the response is negative. I have read the novel, given it a great deal of thought and discussed it with the publisher. However. ultimately, we have decided that the story is not right for us. We have several other fantasies coming out over the next two years, and fantasy is not our main genre. Also, your story does not quite fit within one age range. In some ways it is a teen novel. The main characters are teens; there is a love interest. At the same time, the writing and story line would appeal to ten to twelve year olds, I think, so the two do not match.

It took a long time to respond because I was so taken with many elements of the story. I like the premise and was intrigued by many of the twists and turns. I encourage you to send this story out elsewhere and wish you success with it. You might, though, want to do a rewrite, lowering the age of the main characters, so that it fits a juvenile list a little better. On the other hand, another publisher may snap it up just as it is.

I will be sending Maggie a nice thank-you letter for this. After all, she didn’t have to say anything, and she sounds like somebody I will be doing business with at some point in the future.

Indeed, as rejections go, this is perhaps the best I’ve received. The story’s publishable, but not with Orca. Orca publishes juvenille fantasy, and teen books in a contemporary setting. I’d written a teen fantasy. As my mother said, I’d fallen between two stools. I am still quite disappointed. I feel that I’ve spent the past four months walking down a long road, only to find myself at the beginning again, but at least I know I’m on the right track.

I don’t think I will rewrite the story to make the protagonists younger. That just doesn’t feel right for me — Rosemary is fourteen, not twelve. However, rereading the story, I do find that chapter seven is a little clunky. Perhaps some more revisions are in order. Thanks to Erin, the story is several times better now than it was back last December, when I first submitted it for the Delacorte Press Contest, and there are always improvements that can be made.

I will just have to keep on trying. Eventually, I will find a publisher who will like the book, and think that it fits within their line. Erin and I will try to get the story back out there early next week. We may try a batch of publishing houses, and I’m now looking for a selection that will accept simultaneous submissions. So, perhaps Farrar, Straus & Giroux, perhaps Groundwood Books, or perhaps Coteau Books. We’ll see.

I am feeling as though I’ve been punched in the stomach, but that’s life. It’s hard to get yourself published, and the only way to succeed is to keep trying, and to keep trying again. So, keep your fingers crossed for me as, later this week I send off this submission again, and start the whole process anew.


Maggie’s kind rejection letter tops the letter I received from Gareth Roberts of Virgin Books. I’d submitted a Doctor Who novel entitled In Tua Nua that I’d co-authored with J. Keeping. We waited six months for the response and got a personal letter from him. He seemed to like it, but thought that the plot was too linear, and the threat not big enough for the story. Any editor who takes the time to write back a diplomatic and detailed critique is put on a level higher than any publisher that sends back form letters. I know the publishing industry is very, very busy, but that’s the way it is.

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