1. EchoPark
    Offline

    EchoPark New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0

    Art of Rejection

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by EchoPark, Nov 24, 2011.

    I'm assuming that rejection is a sign that what i'm doing isn't right. I queried 10 agencies and so far I've been rejected by 8. If the next two don't come by next week I have to just assume they aren't going to respond at all. Now does this mean that my story isn't as good as I think it is?
    Can 10 people really be wrong? They are in the business of getting manuscripts to publishers, I have to assume that they don't think it's possible with my work. If that's the case what do I do?

    I've actually asked people on here for advice and at first they were willing, but once they read my work they went dark. Do my words kill people? Does it make them vanish? Whatever the case, I'm lost and all I want is some sort of answer.

    PS

    I hear that sometimes agents give people advice or personal comments when rejecting. I didn't get any of those. One agent replied with an email where she actually stated my name and the title of my work. That was the most personal thing I got and I appreciated it:)
     
  2. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    Harry Potter got declined by twelve publishers before she found one. I would assume selling a book to a publisher is harder than finding an agent. So I would say keep on truckin'.
     
  3. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    It might be the story (for any number of reasons other than it sucks) - or it might be the query itself that's not getting their attention. I'd start with that (the query) first and see if that's not quite doing its job.
     
  4. Steerpike
    Online

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,086
    Likes Received:
    5,279
    Location:
    California, US
    There are a number of reasons an agent or publisher might reject a work. One is that the work is not very good. Another is that even though the work is good it doesn't fit the current needs of the publisher, or it isn't the sort of work the agent is looking to represent at the moment.
     
  5. foosicle
    Offline

    foosicle Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2011
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good and great are subjective to each reader. Its believable that 10 people can fall outside your stories target audience. Keep searching.
     
  6. picklzzz
    Offline

    picklzzz Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2011
    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Florida
    I'm inexperienced with this, but I'd say try to have as many friends and coworkers read your story and give honest feedback. See if you can improve the story. I'd be happy to read it and give you honest feedback if you want. You can PM me and I can try to make suggestions. I have never submitted a story to an agent or anything though. It's hard to know why they're rejecting you without feedback. Are you targeting publications that would be likely to accept your work. I'm not sure if it's appropriate to call and ask for feedback (I doubt it), but it may be worth a try. I'd say to keep submitting it to other publishers. Maybe one or more would be interested. I hear you though. It's hard to know. I did submit two stories to two different contests on different websites, and I thought my stories were excellent. I had friends and coworkers read them, and they all thought they were great. Not only did I not make even the finals of each contest, but I saw the finalists and winners and I didn't think they were necessarily better. Anyway, good luck and don't give up!
     
  7. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I don't think I'd go with friends, family, or coworkers for feedback. I doubt very much they'd tell you "This sucks!". Beta-readers or critique groups are better, though it can take time to find the right match.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    Some random thoughts:

    - When an agent looks at a manuscript, he's not looking for a reason to accept it; he's looking for a reason to reject it. This is because agents receive so many manuscripts that they don't have time to read them all; they generally don't have time to spend more than a few minutes per manuscript. A book is very often rejected based on the first page, or even the first paragraph.

    - So how is your first page? Is it immediately engaging and interesting?

    - Are you contacting agents using the standard procedures and format for the industry? Have you researched exactly how to write the first letter, how to respond to a request for material, and so on? Or are you more or less guessing about how to make the contact? As I understand it, agents want to deal with people who already know the standards of the industry; they don't want to have to teach those standards.

    - If you have had a request for pages/manuscript, is your manuscript as flawless as you can possibly make it? Agents, again, don't want to teach grammar or other writing issues, and they don't want to have to do a lot of work to clean up your manuscript. People often have the idea that cleanup is "the editor's job", but that's incorrect.

    I've never been published; I'm getting all of this from various books and websites. One site that has a lot of detailed advice is Author! Author! by annemini.

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. Jetshroom
    Offline

    Jetshroom Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Australia
    Hey ChickenFreak,

    Thanks for pointing me at Author! Author! Fascinating and probably useful stuff.
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    if you'd like to have an editor's opinion of your work, you can send me the first couple of pages and i'll let you know if it's the work turning them off, or not [assuming you sent them a sample]...

    if you didn't send sample chapters, then the problem could be your query, so you can send me that, along with the pages and we'll see if you need to upgrade the writing of either/both...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  11. EchoPark
    Offline

    EchoPark New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    thanks for all the responses! Everyone is being really helpful. For all those that offered to read some of the work I'll get it to you.
    I do agree that friends and family aren't the best because they are all way too kind. I really just want to know where I stand and
    a lot of you have offered and that's all I've asked.
    Thanks again and I really appreciate it.
     
  12. cindythompson
    Offline

    cindythompson New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    If those 10 rejected you that doesn’t mean your story is bad. They differ from each other and definitely have various standards to be followed in choosing a manuscript. Instead of luring in depression just think that you might not get their standard, be patient the opportunity for you will come.
     
  13. cindythompson
    Offline

    cindythompson New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    If those 10 rejected you that doesn’t mean your story is bad. They differ from each other and definitely have various standards to be followed in choosing a manuscript. Instead of luring in depression just think that you might not get their standard, be patient the opportunity for you will come.
     
  14. Jewels
    Offline

    Jewels Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    0
    If it's any consolation I sent my manuscript to 40 agents and have received 20 rejections. I received just one request from an agent for a partial. The rest just didn't bother to reply so I can only assume they were rejections too.

    Yesterday I was offered a contract and my book will be e-published in March and go to print in July. Maybe you should think about approaching publishers directly because agents are extremely selective and also very conservative in what they will consider.

    It is extremely difficult to know if your own work is any good, but I'm sure it's not that bad that nobody wants to comment on it! Writing groups are invaluable for providing regular feedback and also help to hone you skills when you critique the writing of others.
     
  15. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California

    Congrats
     
  16. EchoPark
    Offline

    EchoPark New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    You know, I never thought about going straight to the publishers. I'll keep that in the back of my mind. I'll definitely do that if I can't find an agent AND if I get really positive feedback from people who don't care about my feelings:p
    Thanks!
     
  17. EchoPark
    Offline

    EchoPark New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Also, I'll probably post a snippet in the proper section of this forum once I'm allowed.:)
     
  18. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    Remember that, however ridiculous it may sound, approaching the agent in the correct way also matters. So you may also want to seek feedback on your query letter. (Unless your query letter is getting you requests for material, in which case, yes, I would assume it's the material.)

    ChickenFreak
     
  19. EchoPark
    Offline

    EchoPark New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm not amazingly confident with my query or synopsis but I am confident in the sample pages I send in. I think they should know that a query isn't a story, it's a different art form all together. It's like a director and the guy that does the trailer for a movie. Both are needed but it's usually two different skills from two different people.

    Also, I only send in snail mail queries therefore it's quite costly. I could possibly send in 40, which would mean 30 more. But unfortunately sending 100 is just not possible :(. I really have to pick and choose which agents I query.
     
  20. Jewels
    Offline

    Jewels Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can I ask why you only send in snail mail queries?

    More and more agents / publishers are accepting e-queries only so you might be limiting yourself.

    I've come across a few that still accept only snail mail but they are dwindling and i believe they will soon become a thing of the past.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    In a world where agents and publishers weren't trying to thin countless applications down, that might be true. Sadly, though, that is what they're trying to do, and from what I've read, that means that every single thing that you send them is treated as a writing sample--your query letter, everything. A query letter that doesn't interest the recipient is likely to be the end of the interaction.

    I'm puzzled as to why these are so expensive. Are you sending pages of your manuscript, so that each query is a lot of postage? My understanding is that it's customary to send _just_ the query as the initial contact, which would just be one stamp. I realize that those can add up eventually, but I wanted to address the possibility that you may be sending several ounces of paper with each query, to no purpose.

    ChickenFreak
     
  22. joanna
    Offline

    joanna Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Messages:
    429
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Boston
    The problem with going straight to a publisher is that publishers do not generally take unsolicited query letters or manuscripts seriously. By "not generally" I mean less than one per cent of the time, and by "seriously" I mean they don't even necessarily read them. That's why it's great to have an agent; they know who to take your work to and they are taken seriously.

    The agent sees the query letter as evidence that you either know what you are doing or don't. If your query letter is not the absolute best representation of your writing capabilities, don't send it out. Read books about how to write query letters and edit accordingly.

    I have read that becoming a published author is about as easy as becoming a professional athlete. It's not impossible, just incredibly difficult, and even those who have been published have been rejected. John Kennedy Toole was ceaselessly rejected for years and ended up suffering from depression and paranoia and committed suicide; his book, A Confederacy of Dunces, published posthumously, became a cult classic. Rejection can mean your work isn't publishable, but it doesn't always.
     
  23. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    listen to chickenfreak and joanna!... their advice is worth taking, if you want to maximize your work's chances of being published...
     
  24. EchoPark
    Offline

    EchoPark New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    I send out snail mail queries because agents(or their assistants) reply with either a yes or a no. E-queries don't get turned down, they just get forgotten. I like closure, it helps. I just cross that agency off that list and move on to the next. The writer puts more time in snail mail and I assume the agents (or their assistants) do too when they drop in a little letter in the SASE and mail it back.

    I'm redoing my synopsis and the query. I find the query to be more difficult, but I'll perfect it before I try again.

    The agencies I queried all accepted snail mail, and they all required a query, synopsis, 5-20 pages, and a SASE. I think I paid about $15 to get out those 10 queries using cheap (first-class) USPS mail. Of course the price for supplies brings the total up to about $30, but I shouldn't need anymore supplies to get out another 50 queries.:redface:

    I don't plan on going straight to the publishers anytime soon. I think that will be my trump card...Or maybe self-publishing is, I don't know.:)
    I graduated high school in 2005 and so far 3 of my high school friends are pros in the NFL and NBA. I wouldn't mind being a published writer, i'd feel just as cool as them when they come to town and visit.:)
     
  25. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,969
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I realized that I never actually responded to your question: While you should absolutely examine your query and your writing and your querying process to see how they can be improved, I think that ten rejections doesn't _necessarily_ mean that anything whatsoever is wrong. I believe that ten rejections is not a terribly large number.

    Remember that an agent cannot possibly take on every salable book or even potentially salable book that he sees--I assume that he/she has to choose from among many perfectly good possibilities. You may be in the stack of submissions that get tossed upon reading the first paragraph or the query letter, or in the stack that the agent had to reluctantly, painfully, after long thought, push aside in favor of another book. And the response that you get may not give you a clue which one it was.

    It's sort of unfortunate that the agents want the pages with the query. If you were dealing with the usual process of first query letter, then possible request for pages, then you'd have some idea if the issue was with the query (no request for pages) or the writing (request for pages, then rejection). On the other hand, I suppose that the insistence on pages with the query might(?) increase the odds that those pages might get read.

    ChickenFreak
     

Share This Page