Rejection hurts. We’ve all heard stories of popular books that had scores of editors or publishers reject them before someone realized the potential and published them. The rest is publishing history.
Since writers deal with a lot of rejection, Writer’s Digest had the idea to provide a creative outlet for them to vent their frustration. They called it “Reject a Hit.” The popular feature ran for many years.
The premise was to pick an immensely successful book and write a fictitious rejection letter. It offered a safe way to allow authors to poke fun at the gatekeepers who blocked their path to publication. You can read some of these letters online.
I sent them my contribution, but the magazine shuttered the column about the time I made my submission. It never ran, and there is no suitable outlet to share my prose.
So, I’ll post it here:
Reject a Hit: The Bible
I was a bit surprised to receive your submission for the Bible. Though I had lofty expectations, the writing left me disappointed, and the substance perplexed me.
First, this is an anthology—sort of. Anthology contributors should be contemporaries, not span several centuries. And you must pick one genre. Jumping from historical nonfiction to poetry is a stretch, and the prophetic works are repetitive.
Though I like the biographies of Jesus, do you really need four?
Dystopian is hot now. Could you rework it?
The writing styles are also jarring. Paul’s rhetoric annoys me. John’s words have a lyrical flow but confuse me. David’s poems seem bipolar. Luke’s writing is solid, though he does switch perspectives in the middle of Acts.
Also, there are too many layers here. It would take a lifetime to grasp; no one will invest that much time in one book.
Plus, the Bible is no place for violence, incest, and rape. Your characters must be wholesome if you want acceptance by religious book buyers. Additionally, I suggest you remove “Song of Songs.” It borders on erotica.
With great trepidation, I must reject your submission—all the while praying you don’t strike me dead. From a business standpoint, I don’t see an upside to this. I can appreciate that you expect the Bible will become the most popular book ever, but that’s unrealistic. Not even your contributors will buy a copy—they’re all dead.
Though I don’t see any future in this as a book, you may want to consider movies. There are a couple of good stories hidden in its pages. With some poetic license and the right director, you may be able to salvage some of this.
Rev. Uptight Preacher, PhD
Religion Editor, Pharisee Press
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.