Friday, March 7, 2014

Dealing with Rejection

Today it is my pleasure to host author and screenwriter Bob Bernstein who is going to discuss dealing with rejection or “Thank You for Completely Trashing My Work You No-Nothing Piece of...”

Bob Bernstein is a former executive fundraiser turned professional boat captain. He has worked as a commercial fisherman, charter boat skipper, captain-for-hire, camera boat operator, and boat wrangler for Hollywood. His technical marine articles, columns, short stories and features have appeared in magazines and books since 1987. The novellas, Beneath Cold Seas and Mother Lode - first serialized in Offshore Magazine in 1992 - are available at Amazon's Kindle Store, as is Bernstein's memoir, What They Don't Tell You About Alzheimer's, an informative story about taking care of a mother with Alzheimer's Disease. What They Don't Tell You About Alzheimer's held the top two spots on Amazon's Top 100 Kindle Books on Aging for over seven weeks and rose to the top 25 on Amazon's Top Ten 100 Memoirs.
Stowaway, the sequel to Bernstein's debut mystery novel, Calamity, is due out in late 2014, as is his science fiction thriller, The Ring Shepherd.
Are We Sinking Or Are My Legs Getting Shorter is a "light read" collection of instructional articles and anecdotes for new and novice boat enthusiasts, while the experienced vessel or fleet owner will find a more thorough examination of boat systems, equipment, and gear in Boat Tech.
Bernstein continues to work on the waters of Penobscot Bay, Maine. He writes from his home in Tenants Harbor. For more information visit him at
Ninety-nine percent of all critiques or rejections have the word “but” in the very first sentence. I got one once from the Scott Meredith Agency. It was beautiful. Five pages long. The opening was something like, “This impressive, ambitious work moves like a runaway freight train, catapults the reader into a phantasmagorical world of outlandish visions and scenery, but is ultimately flawed and will never go anywhere.”
Another rejection letter started out: “Your manuscript was exactly what I was looking for, and I argued strongly for it to be added to our book list, but my editorial staff thought otherwise.”
My favorite came from Tom DeFalco, at the time, Editor-in Chief of Marvel Comics. It was on his personalized business stationary, the one with Spider Man web-slinging up the left side. Typical letter. Dear Mr. Bernstein, and then under that the word Huh in quotes. Hand signed, Tom DeFalco.
I love that letter, even though it doesn’t have the word “but” in it, and I will cherish it as long as I live. Granted, it lacks a certain detail. But consider the refined brevity. The nuance. The pure, unadulterated passion. Obviously, I had really hit a nerve.
These days, with self- and indy publishing, the rejection letter isn’t as commonplace, unless you send one to yourself.
Dear Mr. Bernstein,
Your recent manuscript reads like a cross between Sons and Lovers and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. All of us here at Bernstein and Bernstein Publishing loved it. BUT, unfortunately, we just accepted a similar book titled, Honey, I Shrunk Tolstoy. So, sorry. Good luck placing your work elsewhere.
Bob Bernstein

Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.
Also, just in time for St. Patrick's Day, you can pick up your free copy of The Cannibals of Madison County by clicking HERE.  Hope you enjoy!


Jane Turley said...

Dear Mr Bernstein,

That made me laugh. A lot. That letter from Tom DeFalco is priceless; I hope you've got it framed in your lavatory.

My special subject at college was the Tudor navy. It was a mistake though as really I have no interest in boats whatsoever.What a pity:))

Kind regards,

Jane Turley

seabgb said...

Lol. Thanks for the comment. And I envy you your disinterest in boats. Think of all the money you save.

Charles Gramlich said...

Gotta love that "huh"

William Doonan said...

I still have a folder full of my old rejection letters. I need to write more so I can add some new ones.

seabgb said...

WIlliam, I keep mine in a leather bound binder. But there's a lot of other stuff in there, too. One particular item, a cutout from the Boston Globe from their "Literary Life" section, which pays tribute to noteworthy books, articles, etc., includes a blurb about me that goes something like:

"Bob Bernstein, in an incredibly detailed feature article for National Fisherman magazine, gives us a comprehensive look at the growing sea urchin fishery in the U.S., including more than we ever wanted to know about the sex habits of sea urchins."

Not my fault spiny sea urchins like to swing.

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome back, Bob.

Mine are in a file that I haven't looked at in years, but none of them can rival that "Huh." Wow. That's definitely a keeper.

seabgb said...

Thanks for having me. It's nice to be back. I haven't looked at my folder in a long time, either. There are some real doozies in there for sure, and also some great advice. God bless those thoughtful editors and producers who cared enough to send more than just a form letter.