After The Call: Editorial Rejections -- To Read or Not To Read?

"After the Call" is a regular feature on my blog! It chronicles what happens after an agent offers you representation: how to choose the right agent, how to communicate with your new agent, what the revision process is like, etc. For previous posts in this series, please see the "After The Call" sidebar to the right.

Here on the "After The Call" series, I have a tendency to write about subjects on a more general scale. How to Fight Envy! How to Persevere! How to Pick an Agent who Doesn't Suck Ass! (<-- Hmm, not sure I've written about that last one yet.)

So today, I thought I'd talk about one of the more "technical" aspects of going on submission. It is a subject of much debate: Should you or shouldn't you read your editorial rejections? 

Okay, a bit of background information first... 

Before you go on submission, your agent will probably email or call you to give you a rundown of the publishers he plans to send your book to. Your agent might also ask if you'd like him to forward any editorial rejections to you. This is something you'll need to think about--do want to be kept in the loop or do you prefer to live in blissful ignorance? (Ignorance! Ignorance!) You have a few options to choose from:

Option A: You must know everything!
Some writers want to read all of the editorial feedback they receive, the good, the bad, and the ugly. In many ways, this is a good strategy. It keeps you abreast of what's going on and it gives you the opportunity to see why editors aren't connecting with your work. 

Before I went on submission, I thought I wanted to be one of these writers. After all, I had steely skin and an iron stomach! I could take any rejection thrown my way! But I was wrong. I am a delicate flower, apparently, and I wilt at the sight of rejection. (Ah, ignorance. So snuggly.) 

BUT! Not all writers are delicate flowers like me. And so, if you want to read all of your rejections, then make sure to discuss it with your agent. Some agents don't pass on rejections unless you specifically ask them for it. 

Option B: You must know some things!
Perhaps you have some delicate flower tendencies and don't want to read all of your rejections. At the same time, you'd like to know what the editors are saying, especially if they have any constructive criticism. 

If this sounds like you, then ask your agent to pass on any rejections with helpful feedback. This way, you get the best of both worlds: you don't have to wade through all of those sad rejections to get to the good bits.

Option C: You must know only good things!
Ah, this is also known as the Blissful Ignorance option. I like this option. Delicate flower thy name is Caroline!

The perks about Option C: you only hear good news! You don't get sweaty palms whenever you receive an email from your agent---you know that she won't be contacting you unless something good has happened. 

The downsides of Option C: well, you're kind of out of the loop. You have no idea how many editors have passed on your work and why they are passing. Still, that's kind of the point of this option, right? BLISSFUL IGNORANCE! 

So, this is just food for thought before you go on submission. And, to be honest, you might change your mind once your book finally goes out into the exciting/terrified world of publishing. Maybe you're like me and you think you want to know everything but then you decide you don't. Or maybe you think Blissful Ignorance sounds rather nice but then you decide it's not nice at all and you're developing weird tics because you have no idea what's going on. And so, give yourself the freedom to change your mind! 

Questions? Comments? Advice? Please leave them in the comments and I'll respond as soon as I can!