I got back in the submitting game this week, sending out a picture book manuscript I’d dusted off and polished up over the weekend. I submitted it to an editor I’d recently gotten a Category 1 rejection from.

Here’s how my rating system works:

  • Category 1: Rejection includes feedback specific to the manuscript, or some other attempt by the editor to personalize the rejection, up to and including food stains.
  • Category 2: Rejection includes both my name and the editor’s name.
  • Category 3: Rejection includes either my name or the editor’s name, but not both.
  • Category 4: Rejection makes no reference to the existence of me or the editor.
  • Category 5: Rejection strongly suggests that no further attempt be made to contact the publisher. I think I’ve gotten only two of these — one from a publisher that had just switched to a Canadian-only policy, the other on a piece of stationery that included a smiling cartoon mouse and the words “Legal Department.”
There is a Category 0. It means, “Get me rewrite!” Those are my favorites.

So anyway, whenever I submit something to an editor I received a Category 1 from, I’m reminded of the old joke about the guy who lost his car keys a block away.

“So why are you looking for them here?” a friend asks.

“The light’s better.”

I’ll find out eventually whether I sent the manuscript to the right place, or just where the light was better.