(Part 2 of 2) The 8 a.m. Tuesday faculty book group discussed modeling the perfect response to hearing "no" from an editor. After much back-and-forth, here is the final list that we agreed was probably best:
1. Accept the reader's report with a combination of gratitude and confidence -- gratitude that a fellow scholar took the time to respond to your work, even negatively, and confidence that your work is strong and that this is about words on a page, not your worth as a scholar or a human being.
2. Read the report carefully and think about what is on-point and what isn't. Be honest here, and be willing to hear the comments for what they are... learned opinions, and neither garbage nor gospel. This is a kind of careful, balanced listening that goes beyond a knee-jerk "Yeah, okay, I get it" and ventures into the realm of the deeply collegial.
3. Be sure to respond to the editor with consistent professionalism. Save any grumbling for your best friends over a glass of wine later. Thank your editor for soliciting the comments, and assure her or him that you are going to ponder them carefully. If the door is closed at the press to that particular work, leave with warmth and good wishes -- you may be back someday! If the door is still open to revise and resubmit, promise to do that promptly, and set a schedule that will work for both of you.
4. Immediately make a written plan for revising the work if necessary and going to another university press. Come see me for examples of written plans -- we have everything from formal, Franklin/Covey style, to models that work with Google calendar. Whatever you use, make sure it is a proven tool and get your plan down on paper with due dates and a deadline.
5. Be of good cheer. It is honorable to have tried ambitiously, whether or not you immediately succeed, and it is even more honorable to try again. People admire colleagues who fight the good fight, and who remain upbeat and academically productive no matter what. You will find yourself with unexpected friends, sometimes among the powerful who got where they are with a combination of perseverence and resilience. Join their number, and congratulate yourself that you did not emulate the herd by running, but you stood with the leaders.