“I’m sorry, but your writing didn’t fit our tone,” said a recent rejection e-mail from a Hong Kong publication (yes, I now eat rejection e-mails for breakfast).
Rejections can be hard on the ego. Writers, famous or not, have experienced rejection. What makes a jilted writer different from the other is how he handles it.
I admit I was slighted by the tone of the e-mail. What the &*$%^–you don’t like my writing?
But of course, I realized: Different folks, different strokes. Maybe I was just too cheerful and happy for their publication (the Chinese aren’t necessarily praised for showing emotion, especially happiness). So I wrote a quick reply thanking them for the opportunity to apply but that I was hoping I would be able to change their, uh, tone (there it is again) and make it better.
Apparently, they’re happy with their tone, never mind if it seems boring. “If you decide you’d like to write in our tone, feel free to send a new set of copy.”
I decided not to. You can’t sell to people who can’t see what they’re missing.
Lesson learned: If people don’t appreciate your writing style, take it elsewhere.
(On Skype, a few hours later, I closed a deal and got the price I wanted. I asked the prospective client what he thought of the articles and he said, “I thought it was great.” Maybe I’m not so bad after all.)