Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Three weeks ago, Wendi forwarded me a listing for a job that, on the surface, seemed like a dream come true. It was a position for a copyeditor/writer at an independent publishing house here in Austin. I have wanted to work at a publishing house for, like, forever.

I immediately spit polished my resume and picked a writing sample and sent them off with my fingers crossed. A week later, when I still hadn't heard back, I sent an e-mail to confirm that they had received my application. I got an almost immediate response with an editing test attached.

In the meantime, my neighbor had done some research on the company and told me that it was a vanity press shop and warned me away. While there are some excellent writers who go the vanity press route, the majority of the clients are those who have money to spend and the delusion belief that they have penned the next great American novel/mystery/biography/memoir/Oprah's pick.

But I plugged along, because I figured being an editor at a vanity press would still be good job experience. If I could manage delusional writers there, I could handle anything anyone threw at me.

But then I looked at the writing sample. It was AWFUL. My third-grade daughter writes better than whoever put this piece together. If it was pulled from the text of an actual manuscript and an example of what I would be doing in this job, I had vastly underestimated what the job entailed.

The only thing that would have salvaged the piece would have been to delete it and start from scratch, but I knew that wasn't what they were looking for. So I focused on fixing the punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors and then offered some suggestions for rewriting in a few places. I sent it off and hoped for the best.

Yesterday I received an e-mail thanking me for my application and telling me that they had received applications from many qualified applicants and that the job had been filled.

I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, I'm not sure I wanted a job holding the hands of writers who produced dreck like the writing sample I received. And I really have no idea how I thought I would manage a full-time job at this point in my life. Finding day care for Campbell and Elizabeth would probably have eaten up every bit of my salary. Plus, after seven years of working from home, setting my own hours and sitting at the computer in my jammies, I don't know how I would handle normal 9-5 hours.

On the other hand, my professional ego is a bit bruised. If I may toot my own horn, I'm a damn good copyeditor. What's more, I enjoy doing it. I love catching errors in punctuation and grammar. I have a whole shelf of copyediting, grammar and style books. I have my own copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. I'm also a better-than-average writer. If I'm not good enough for this job, then who is?

So here I am, licking my wounds and continuing on with the freelance work I have, grateful to at least have a job. But rejection sucks.


オテモヤン said...


Ann in NJ said...

If it's any consolation, perhaps its because you pulled your punches on the writing sample? Or, alternatively, you were too harsh. If they're a vanity place, they may have to be careful about bruising their clients egos.

And it's more than likely they had a candidate in mind already, and were just soliciting resumes so it didn't look like nepotism. Just a thought.

Dee at Pedestrian Palate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dee at Pedestrian Palate said...

I posted this and then looked up and saw that Ann had said basically the same thing. It happens so often that many of us have run into the issue -

One of the things that I have learned in 23 years in the corporate world is that a high percentage of job postings are bull$h1t. Very often, a job that someone wants to give to their neice or neighbor is put on the street as a formality. You may very well have been more a more talented and skillful editor than the person that got that job, but its appearance may have been nothing more than a formailty. Try not to take it personally. There is more baloney in the job market than at your corner deli.

the mama bird diaries said...

Rejection does sting. But I'm guessing you avoided a job you may not have wanted. And there are many reasons another person may have been hired and it likely had nothing to do with your skills~

joanna said...

Sounds like a crap job (mentally) and, on the positive side, the company might have realized you're way too talented to sludge through vanity press material. Rejection does stink, but I think you dodged a bullet.

Ann Imig said...



This is when you have to tell yourself to trust your path so many times that it starts sounding like smrustyersmath.

(sorry it didn't work out)

Wendi said...

I really agree with our Japanese friend in Comment #1.

And it wasn't meant to be this time. But something better may come along soon.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry, but seriously, the benefits of working at home outweigh all but the best office value what you have. I love my job but I still miss the freedom of a home office. And doing the daycare/work/activities juggle is tough too.

ckh said...

After having spent years sending out resumes and not hearing a thing most of the time, I have come to believe that the right thing will come along when at the right time. While everything in between may look attractive and make us feel the sting of rejection, the thing that works will make us excited, will be legit, and the timing will make it worth working out the kinks in our personal lives.

The only thing you should be bummed about is wasting your precious time, but having the experience and being able to come out of it knowing your true worth and value should cancel that out and give your more on the plus side.

I hope my grammar is okay. Now I'm self-conscious... ;)

Suna Kendall said...

Well, dear, I totally enjoyed reading about Belle and whatsername. OK, not really. I did the same thing you did...and also didn't get the job! And I am sure you did as good a job as I did (I *am* an actual editor, so I do not think that was the issue). I mainly liked it because it wasn't too far to drive. Glad to know it's a vanity press. I bet they get WORSE manuscripts, LOL.

I figure that was the most fun application exercise I have done, since the one I did to get my current contract, where I did an eLearning module on knitting.

Like CKH, I have been sending out resumes for years and it is tiring. At least these folks wrote back. (Today I have had 7 calls about a 6-month position, sheesh.)

I guess my point is that I don't think WE were the issue. They probably had an agenda and we weren't part of it. You will find something you can do and still hang with the young ones, I know.

Cookie said...

Dont' be so hard on yourself. I bet the boss' nephew got the job.
Now that I know you are so good at grammar, I don't think you should read my blog anymore...

Baino said...

Don't sweat it. I get job rejections all the time. Had two after interviews a week ago. Frankly I wasn't really fussed bout either but your right, I was ably qualified for both so i wish they'd be brave enough to actually tell you WHY you were rejected. Then in my case, I know my age has a lot to do with it but of course they can't say anything about that! Keep on looking! What about a 'freelance' position through an agency. Once you're on the job, you might be offered permanency, that's how I got my current position?