1. AnrBjotk
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    AnrBjotk Member

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    What are you supposed to do?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by AnrBjotk, Jun 26, 2012.

    So, what is one supposed to do after receiving the standard formal rejection letter? If there is no criticism of why it was bad, how can you improve?
    I read an interesting blog entry on this, written either by an author or a publisher, whether publishers should add specific reasons, the argument ending with the conclusion no, as then the author would just correct the mentioned mistake and be tricked into thinking s/he would be published.
    It's a reasonable argument, but, still, if there is no specifics, then the author stumbles in the dark, unsure where s/he should improve, and might very well send in the MS again, with the wrong parts edited.
    Left to his own devices, the would-be-author simply feels the entire thing is worthless and might either give up or give up on what might have been a good idea.

    The problem, at its core, is that unlike an audition or interview, the potential is given no direction, and is not only back to square one, but is back to square one wondering if even that square is right....
     
  2. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Despite the fact 'should publishers add specific reasons or not" it's a worthless arguement because the reality of the matter is most do not and it's a business for them so it's their decision if they want to waste time trying to give critism on each submission or simply move on to the next. You have to remember they receive hundreds of inquires a month and have to sort through all of them. I read an article about the harsh reality of getting published and it's sort of like getting a job. With a resume you have maybe 3 lines of text to impress the employer or they are moving on, simply replying, we've founds a better candidate. With a manuscript, I could be something as simple as the way you packaged/prepared the manuscript. Did you put it in some fancy binder that only gets in the way? Did you include an author summary which isn't what they ask for on their "What to submit page." Did the first thing they saw when they opened the manuscript a huge block of text, always a turn off. If you are lucky to get them to commit more than 3 minutes with your manuscript you must of had a pretty exciting premus that caught their eye. (Also important to note: do your research and don't send a thriller to a romance publishing house...you very well may have sent it to the wrong place if it got rejected and nothing could be wrong with your story)
     
  3. Silhouette
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    Silhouette Member

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    From the writer's point of view it seems unfair and unhelpful to not give any pointers. However, from the publisher's point of view I think this is reasonable. It's not like they rejected Author A's manuscript and are now sitting around with nothing to publish. They rejected that one and are publishing some other ones that they think will sell. They don't need A's manuscript to improve, so they're not going to work to help him/her edit it.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    indy5live covered it pretty well. Publishers/editors/agents can receive over a thousand submissions a month, so they just don't have the time to provide feedback for every individual manuscript.

    One rejection doesn't mean the story/novel is bad. Maybe the publisher/editor/agent just doesn't like the subject matter. Really, it could be a number of reasons. If you're satisfied with what you've written, submit it again to a different publisher and see what happens. In the mean time, write something else.
     
  5. Egor
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    Egor Member

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    I'm not going to defend publishers. Most of them don't know how to sell a book any better than you could if you self-published. That's a fact. They rejected it for God only knows why. You never will know, so there's no sense getting hung about it.

    Instead, I want to congratulate you on doing the work on a finished novel that brought you to the point of submitting it in the first place. Good Lord, that certainly deserves a hand.

    I am a publisher. Not a successful one, mind you. But I am one. I review books in order to attract attention to my novels, which I publish, which gives me a sharp eye for what works and what doesn't. Send me your query letter, darn it, and I'll give you my take on it. Email me through my website or PM me.

    That's the best answer you're ever going to get on why you were rejected.

    Best of luck to you, AnrBjotk :)

    Ed
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    What you do after receiving a form rejection is the same as after receiving a personalised rejection: review, edit and resubmit. True you're doing it a bit blinder without any clue why it was rejected, but it's always worth giving it a glance over again with a critical mind.

    Whether or not it's unfair to send only form rejections (and sometimes I feel it is) it's a fact of the industry. It could be anything, from a problem with the story itself to just that it didn't resonate with the specific editor/slush reader, or that it didn't fit with the particular publisher.

    There are a good deal of "leaps of faith" that need to be undertaken, submitting for publication.
     
  7. Estrade
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    Estrade Member

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    Send it somewhere else. The only thing you can assume is that they didn't want it, not that this is the definitive judgement of your story. It's one editor with her/his tastes and preferences, specific needs, prejudices, opinions and word count allocations. Maybe they just chose a story they really liked five minutes earlier and didn't even bother to read yours.

    Maybe try to have a list of at least three acceptable markets before you start subbing and proceed to each in turn.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    An unadorned form rejection can either mean the manuscript was passed over quickly due to a busy editor, or it could mean the writing has a long way to go.

    Best strategy, in my opinion, is to assume the writing needs work, and continually work on improving your skills. Keep submitting your story to publishers, with any improvements in the writing you are confident are improvements.

    I disagree with Egor about publishers. They remain in business because they have a good sense of what will and will not sell. However, that is not the topic of this thread.
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Always be looking for ways to make your work better. But at the same time, sometimes you can destroy your story more by hacking away aimlessly at it too. The best answer to what you do if you get rejected, submit somewhere else! ;) (It's always helpful to find a trusted someone to help you go over your writing so you can be confident that your writing doesn't suck too.)
     
  10. Egor
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    Egor Member

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    Very good advice, in my opinion.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    This. They're not perfect - sometimes they miss the boat. But considering how long they've been in business (and successfully), I would have to assume they aren't stupid.
     
  12. bo_7md
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    bo_7md Member

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    Don't give up just yet. Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files) got rejected more than 7 times before getting published--check his website for his story.

    If the problem is that you don't know where your weakness is, then you have options:
    -You can post some of your work here (Don't post it all.)
    -You can join a writing workshop. These are more one-on-one, and you get advice from published authors and established tutors.
    -You can look for a small publishing house to send it to. They give more attention to their responses; ask around for people who received such letters and see who got a detailed review/feedback.

    @Egor: Seeing the quality of some of the books in the market lately, I think that the only thing they know, is how to sell books--well some of them at least.
     
  13. Tracy111
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    Tracy111 New Member

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    Hi, brand new here, but I wanted to let you know that Anne Rice's "Interview with a vampire" had several rejection letters until she met a publisher at a seminar I think that's where the magic happened anyway. So don't feel like something is wrong with your novel. A good idea is to look at where your favorite novel was published from, the one with the same subject matter you have written about.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I remember someone else on this forum once got a standard rejection letter with no comments. He emailed or rang the agent up and asked for feedback, and he actually got the reason why he was rejected. So why don't you give your agent a shout and see if he might respond and give you a reason for the rejection? If you do it politely, it can't hurt - he's already rejected your MS, so you might as well.

    I disagree with Egor - his post sounds like he's been burnt by traditional publishing houses and is now using this thread as an opportunity to promote himself. However I see no reason why you shouldn't send him a query either :D feedback is feedback, no matter where it comes from.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, Egor made an off-topic remark. I have permitted people to make ONE response (and I did so also), but it really is off-topic.

    Let's stick to what to do about rejection letters.
     
  16. bsbvermont
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    bsbvermont Active Member

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    I would agree...the flat rejection letter leaves one stumbling in the dark. That said, I recognize the reality that it is what it is. I'm not sure which is better: a standard rejection letter or never hearing from the agent and wondering if they are still considering your work? I think this site has the potential to unlock some of the mystery for us. Remember, most agents aren't wizards, they are just too busy to respond thoughtfully. The folks on this site have made it part of their day to help us navigate the process so that maybe the next letter will be a partial request.
     
  17. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    The thing about this is, it is not the agent's or publisher's job to help you improve your writing. They don't get paid for that. Agents get paid for the work they do trying to get their client's work published and sold. Publishers get money from selling books. They have to spend most of their time focused on things that further that goal. Giving you a critique of your work in no way helps them do that. Would it be nice if they did that? Sure. Do they occasionally do that? Every once in a while. But if they gave critiques to each of the thousands of (usually unsolicited) manuscripts they receive, they would not have time to do the things that actually get them money. And they're in business to make money -- that's their job. And even if they'd really like to give you the reasons they didn't select your m/s, the reality is that they just don't have the time to do so. In a world where there were not enough writers to meet the demand for published books, it would be in their interest to nurture, develop and help aspiring writers. But that's not the reality. There are more than enough writers to publish more than enough books to satisfy the demand.

    It's your job to improve your writing. As stated above, the way you do this is by taking classes, attending seminars, getting involved in writing groups, posting pieces for critique at websites like this, etc.
     

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