Well, here we are, 2019 and I remembered this blog still exists. Hey, may as well take the old gal out for a spin, right?
Well, let’s start off by covering rejection. But we’re going to do it a little differently. This isn’t a paean to all those prospective people on how to handle rejection. No, this is a tale of rejection…and why it strongly colors why there are winners and losers in the game.
It’s a story of how I got two different rejections in the course of the week – and why I’m happy to have received one, and why I incensed by the other, as well as how companies who do the rejecting should handle it.
Those who know our efforts over at Incstone Design know that we’ve shifted our focus from website design mainly to our fonts and graphics design business. It was a better fit for us, as my schedule as of fairly recent (especially last year’s annus horribilis) doesn’t allow for as much web design as I used to do. That being said, I’m enjoying the fun of fontmaking and design and it still lets me keep things fresh. I’ve got my fonts out there, I’ve been noted in museum bits and it pays some (low-level) bills.
That doesn’t, of course, mean that I don’t keep looking for new places to hawk my wares. In addition to the places where you can usually get my fonts, I was looking at three new opportunities. For fairness' sake, I’m going to call all three companies by pseudonyms (apologies if there are any companies with these actual names; the names aren’t reflective of any actual organizations.)
- Graphics Mall, an up-and-coming organization specializing in graphics, fonts, etc. I was especially looking forward to working with these folks, as I had received a personal request to join their ranks of vendors;
- Fileshop, a long time international company that deals with all sorts of files: fonts, graphics, CG renders, music, etc. I’d really never thought about working with them before, but I’d recently been reminded of their existence and so I wanted to give it a shot.
- Typehaus, a fonts-only place. One of my works had been rejected by them before, but I thought I had a far stronger portfolio now, than I did prior, so I thought I’d submit with them again.
I’d selected one of my best-selling fonts, Une Nuit Parisienne, to be my application. I’d recently revamped the files with an open type update as well as a new font weight. The new versions had been successfully picked up by my other stores and so I was confident that it would do well with these new locations.
In all three places, I got rejected. But it was how I got rejected that’s what matters, and why one of them I’ll be avoiding like the plague (including closing my purchasing account there), one I’ll be reconsidering, and one I will continue to strive for.
First up was Graphics Mall. I wrote them the email, proffering my submission, explaining to them that I’d been invited to join (as per their employee) and went over the usual things that I have done in my applications.
Two days passed, and then I got the rejection email from them.
For starters, it was rude and boilerplate. As someone who has worked in secretarial work in the past, I know boilerplate when I see it and this was definitely that. Furthermore:
- No mention of the invite from them or anything of the sort
- No commentary on the quality (or lack thereof) of my font
- Complaint that I didn’t provide my Behance – specifically Behance. I have a DeviantArt account I putz around with and have only recently started putting my stuff out on Behance, but the fact that this was never mentioned to begin with is concerning.
- No offers to try to work with them again.
Okay, fine, I’ll write this company off. It turns out it was a blessing in disguise, as some of the wares I’ve seen available there are worse than some of my earliest work. Furthermore, with a casual look at the complaints for customer service regarding this place, I think I may have lucked out.
Verdict: I’m not resubmitting with them; furthermore, I’m going to close my personal consumer account with them to boot. Petty? Maybe. But if they don’t want me as a designer, they don’t need my personal money, either – and furthermore, I have no guarantee that any other designer is doing well with them, so I’m not going to chance it.
Next up was Fileshop. Same thing: submitted UNP and was offered the chance to go exclusive there (for more money) or non-exclusive. Well, UNP has already been on two other shops, so there’s little chance of an exclusive there. Did my application and continued from that point.
Five days passed before I got the rejection letter. While that was a longer than usual wait, they do point out on their (extensive) pages that five days is the average review time, so that’s better than nothing.
The rejection letter wasn’t as boilerplate as Graphics Mall’s, but what bothered me was ultimately the repeat “you can get more information from our forums” instead of them informing me why they turned it down other than “it doesn’t meet our standards” (funny, it meets that of MyFonts, and Monotype is a much bigger company than Fileshop). But the whole thing of “talk to our guys that made it” seems a bit cliquish and more of “we don’t know if you’re good enough to be a vendor with us…but we still want you as a customer!”
Verdict: I’m on the fence with this one. Maybe it was an off-experience, but I really don’t know. I’ve been a customer of Fileshop for over five years, but being on this side of the fence has given me reason to pause.
Last was Typehaus. Same thing as the previous, got the rejection in two days.
The difference here was the way they handled the rejection. Instead of giving me the boilerplate BS or the cliché “doesn’t meet our design standards”, the reviewer outright told me why: I offered a display font, and they see a lot of those; however, what they prefer to have are script fonts (I only have two) or serif/slab fonts (I don’t have any currently in the pipeline). Furthermore, he took the time to point out a couple of actual errors in the font files themselves, notably a kerning issue.
Now, granted, it could be that the guys at Graphics Mall or Fileshop could have done the same. The fact is, they didn’t. It could have been that because Typehaus is a font-only shop, that they did that. But I also vend at one font-only location as well and I don’t get that quality of critique there.
It was clear what they wanted, why they rejected me – and how I can strengthen my next application (which they did suggest for me to apply again!) as well as how to strengthen the font they just turned down.
Verdict: as soon as I’m done with my upcoming Clarendon revival font, I’m submitting directly to Typehaus.
So, in conclusion, as you can see, just as it’s as important for creators to get over rejection and to process rejection correctly, it’s equally as critical for companies to see how they reject submissions and to learn from it. After all, sure that guy’s work might not have been up to snuff, but if you were pushing him away hard, you might not get that next work that will be the hot new thing – and someone else will benefit from that instead.