This Week in Rejection!: DC Comics

Read — if you can stay awake for it — this truly horrible story synopsis that was deservedly rejected by DC Comics back in 1993. Then stick around for today’s lesson, kids…


OK, so now that you’ve lost all respect for me as a writer, let me tell you something: That synopsis was actually for a truly amazing story! Honest. It was powerful and character-driven and loaded with pathos.

The problem, of course, is that I gave precisely zero indication of that in the synopsis, choosing instead to write something so generic and vague that the editor in question (quite rightly) wrote “Nothing unique” on it.

Whose fault is this? Duh. Mine. I was trying to hold something back. Trying to keep the story’s twists a secret so as to… So as to…

I don’t know! I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, to be honest with you. When you’re pitching a story to someone, you have to tell them everything. You can’t be coy and hold back the twists and surprises — they need to know these things to decide if they’re going to buy it or not! I got mixed up. I confused the editor for the reader.

Bad mistake.

Don’t try to impress an editor with your ability to leave him or her hanging off a cliff. Impress him or her with your story.

This Week in Rejection!: DC Comics

I had submitted something or other to DC at some point and was told that they couldn’t accept it because the character in question was already reserved for someone else’s use. Then I submitted something and was told that the character in question wasn’t “cool” enough.

So, I did something sort of cheeky and I’m surprised it worked at all — I sent in a list of characters I was interested in and said, basically, “Look, it would save us both a lot of time (and me a lot paper and stamps) if you would just check off the characters that are both considered ‘cool’ at the moment and are also unreserved for someone else’s use.”

In retrospect, it wasn’t the slickest move. But as you can see in the personal note jotted below…it worked.


To a degree. Yeah, I got my list, but twenty years later, twelve novels, and a New York Times bestseller…and I still haven’t gotten to write anything for DC Comics.

No, no, I’m OK — I just have something in my eye, is all.

This Week in Rejection!: DC Comics, ’80s Style!

My very first submission to DC Comics was way back in 1979 or 1980. I never received a formal rejection for that — perhaps DC didn’t take a story proposal written in #2 pencil on a sheet of torn-out spiral notebook paper seriously. Or maybe — just maybe — they’re still considering it.

Nah. [Read more…]