Tag Archive - Rejection

Five Myths About an Agent’s Rejection

Application Rejected

1.) The agent hates me. Unless you approached her and said something along the lines of, “You and your kids are ugly and you have lousy taste in manuscripts,” a rejection shouldn’t be personal.

But if you are worried that you unintentionally offended an agent or other publishing professional, take action. Email to let him know you have been worried about why you may have been the cause of offense, followed by an apology. Chances are good the other person had no idea he should have been offended, and has been enjoying the beach, not thinking a thing about the “incident” that has you worried. Or, if he really was offended, he should accept your apology. Then you can make a fresh start.

2.) The agent was making up an excuse to reject me.  Except when writing blog posts, we don’t have time to wax long and poetic. But if an agent says anything beyond a catchphrase such as, “This work is not a good fit for me,” then I would consider the advice. Those phrases might include allusions to the quality of writing, slim market for your type of work, or other hints as to why your work was rejected. This hint could help you learn what might work better for you in the future.

Proper Care and Feeding of …You!

by Karen Ball

Thanks so much for all your thoughtful responses last week. I gained a great deal from reading and pondering them. This week, I’d like to take a look from the other side of the desk. As an author myself, I know how hard the writing gig is. And I know a LOT of authors, published and not, who have hit speed-bumps -or even felt like the Editor/Publisher/Agent semi just flattened them in the middle of the publishing highway. As hard as agents’/editors’ jobs may be, the author’s job is pretty tough too. You spend months and years working on your craft, only to have everyone tell you how to do it better. And then there are the lovely people who keep asking when you’re going to get a real job, or would you mind baby-sitting today since you don’t have a job, or any of a multitude of other ignorant comments that nibble at us like rabid ducks as we struggle to be creative.

Sadly, the criticism and ignorance doesn’t end when you get published. Just read some of the reviews on Amazon, Christianbook.com, or Barnes&Noble. Or ask an author to share his or her reader letters with you. I know one group of writers that gets together once a year and gives out a prize for the worst review/reader letter. Some of them are, to say the least, brutal. Let’s face it, when your words are on the printed page, you can pretty much know someone isn’t going to like what you said or how you said it. And the ol’ Internet has made it waaaay too easy for folks to share their blistering thoughts.

No, writing isn’t easy. Not by a long shot.

So here’s what I’d like to do.

“The Great Unspoken” – Why Agents Don’t Critique

by Karen Ball

There’s a secret agents and editors share. Something they seldom discuss with each other, and never with writers. It’s something they dislike. Intensely. It ties their hands when it comes to guiding writers guidance. It’s the #1 reason they turn down proposals, and the #2 (and sometimes #1) reason they’ve gone with form rejection letters. It’s something many inexperienced agents and editors try to change—I know I tried to change it, both as an editor and as an agent. I still try from time to time, but like most editors/agents, so far I’ve had to accept it’s inescapable. And trying to change it costs too much—in time, effort, and heartache.

It’s something we all know. And something we can never say to writers.

It’s something writers always tell us they want to know, but when we speak it, what we get in response, by more writers than you can imagine—and I’m talking about all levels of skill and experience and professionalism—is indignance. Outrage. Sometimes vitriol. About our knowledge, intelligence, and, believe it or not, salvation.

No, that’s not hyperbole. There have been times, when I’ve dared to utter The One Great Unspoken, that I’ve been told I’m stupid, insulting, arrogant, and, yes, unChristian.

But I’m going to try again. I’m going to speak it here, to you. Because I want you to know how we agonize over what we say to writers. How we wish we could just be up-front on this count and know that when we did so, writers would trust that we’re not trying to put them down or put on some false superiority. What we’re trying to do is help them.

Handling Criticism

by Tamela Hancock Murray

Recently I received criticism about myself. I didn’t like it. Like all humans, I prefer praise. However, the points made were from someone (not connected to the publishing industry) I know has my best interests at heart, so I stepped back, tried to review the criticism without emotion, and I hope I learned from it. I can say I learned enough to take steps to improve.

Our writing lives are affected by our moods and situations, so whether the criticism is leveled at ourselves or our work, we need to assess accordingly. Not all criticism is valid, but we can learn from an occasional reassessment. When you are criticized, consider:

Fun Fridays – Sept. 28, 2012

Writing to Market: Bad Advice?

by Tamela Hancock Murray

Throughout my career I’ve seen various responses to the advice that declares “Write to market!” In other words “write what sells” because that is what is most important for a writer. Is this good advice or bad advice?

It is both.

Here is when it’s bad advice: When you’re made to feel you have to write a certain type of book just to break into the market, any market.

If you think, for instance, that any lame brain can write a romance novel, but hey, romance authors are millionaires, then the romance novel market is not where you need to be. You won’t respect your readers or give them your best.

So if writing to market means you’re slogging away writing a book you loathe in hopes of entertaining riches, then you’ve taken bad advice.

Then when is writing to market a good idea?

The Mystery of the Slush Pile

by Tamela Hancock Murray

When you submit a manuscript or query to an agent, you may wonder what happens to it, and what our thought processes are regarding the properties we offer to represent versus those we must respectfully decline. Every agent is different, but you may find learning about my process helpful.

I have a very smart assistant. When she reviews my slush pile submissions, she goes through a winnowing process.

The first submissions she rejects are those that are obviously not a fit for me. These include:

1.) Stream of consciousness submissions. If she can’t figure out what you are talking about, she sends it back. By this we don’t mean that we don’t understand systematic theology. It means that the query letter is incoherent.

2.) Error-ridden letters. Even the best of us can type “here” when we meant to type “hear” but more than one error in a final letter is a red flag that either the author is not well-versed in basic grammar or will turn in careless, sloppy work.

3.) We rarely acknowledge queries sent as an email blast in the cc line to the entire industry. It is a form of spam. Target a select few and then personalize your proposal to each.

4.) Books that aren’t in categories we represent.

Submissions that bypass these four problems, among others, and otherwise show promise are passed on to a reader. The reader looks for factors such as:

1.) Excellent writing.

2.) For fiction, coherent plot.

3.) For nonfiction, whether the intended audience is likely to connect with the topic.

4.) Overall message of book, whether fiction or nonfiction.

Fun Fridays – April 13, 2012

The Rejection Letter Generator

Become used to receiving rejection letters from agents and editors. Test your own mettle. Develop immunity to snarky comments!
Go to this site and fill one of the seven forms. The Rejection Generator Project
I guarantee you will be rejected within seconds. So much better than waiting weeks for our agency’s evaluation.

Here is a sample of the rejection letter I received from the site:

Dear Writer,

I regret to say that we cannot use the piece you have submitted. There are many potential reasons for this: we are looking for very particular subject matter; we are overstocked right now; we were drunk when we read it. This is not a judgment of you. It does not mean you are a bad writer.

Of course, you probably are a bad writer. You’re probably so bad you can’t finish this sentence: “My mama wears __________.” The vast majority of people who think of themselves as writers are actually bad writers. They just don’t know it. Nonetheless, this one rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that you are bad. But probably you are.

And the odds are that you are immoral and lazy as well. We don’t mean to be harsh. We’re talking about the percentages here.

Best,

The Editors

 

News You Can Use – April 3, 2012

The Spirituality of Rejection – Chris Able asks “Can rejection be good for you?”

In Case You’ve Been Asleep – The Harry Potter franchise is now available in ebook form on the Pottermore web site. It will be interesting to hear sales data if they are willing to share.

Twelve Blogging Mistakes to Avoid – Jeff Bullas gives great advice.

15 Twitter Hashtags That Every Writer Should Know About - if you know what that headline means this is a helpful article. If you don’t? Click through to find out.

The Instant Art Critique Generator - Impress your friends! Type in any five digit number and get a phrase to use to make yourself sound intelligent.

And here are the cliches most used to describe art. Do you use them to describe your book?

The Unhelpful Rejection Letter

Have you ever received an unhelpful rejection letter that says, “Sorry, but this just isn’t a fit for us.”? I have. And I’ve also written more of these rejections than I’d like to admit. In fact, after I write this post, I may just have to send out twenty more.

Some authors write back to say, “Can’t you tell me what I can do better? What suggestions do you have?” I’m sure I frustrate writers when I tell them I can’t comment further. As a published author in my own right, I understand why writers want feedback. So now let me tell you why I don’t feel it’s in your best interest for me to offer feedback when the answer is a firm no.

Lead Me On

When you were in high school, you kept from encouraging people you didn’t want to date, right? Sometimes those people were nice and would make a great match for someone else. Just not you. You hated the fact you couldn’t, in your heart of hearts, be passionate enough about spending time with them to accept invitations for dinner. But how to tell them without gaining an enemy forever? Ouch!

I don’t want make writers, especially my lovely friends, think I’m going to introduce their work to editors if I have no intention of doing so. If I tell you, “Well, I’d like this better if the heroine’s eyes were blue and her name was Sally,” and you changed both factors and sent it back to me, you’d expect me to pursue your work. Now, in truth, I might think your book would be better with blue-eyed Sally instead of green-eyed Sarah, but another agent might disagree. Unless I’m serious about pursuit, it’s better for me to keep my opinion to myself.

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