Rejection, rejection, rejection...

Discussion in 'Traditional Publishing' started by deadrats, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. Native Ink

    Native Ink Active Member

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    I'm entered in a couple of contests. According to Duotrope, one of them sent out a batch of rejection letters today. I wish that meant I made it to a higher round, but my entry is still marked "Received" in Submittable. The initial screeners must be sending out rejections as they go along. Personally, I find rejection easier to take when all the losers are notified at the end of the contest. When my story is read and immediately rejected, it makes me think that either:

    A) My story was so bad it couldn't survive the first round.
    B) The journal is letting screeners reject stories on the first read without waiting for a second opinion from another reader.

    Neither option is great, but option B is why I enter contests reluctantly. If I'm paying $20+ for an entry, it would be nice to know they are giving the stories greater-than-average scrutiny. In reality, I think the opposite is usually true.
     
  2. Native Ink

    Native Ink Active Member

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    Deleted. Accidental double post.
     
  3. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah that's kinda what I tell myself too - I'll always have that to brag about! I'll always have that validation. It's not nothing, for sure :) but yeah, it's frustrating because it's like, "Yeah, that's just another way of rejecting me!" But you know, I'm kinda past the stage of being told I can write - I mean, all right, I'll always enjoy hearing it lol, but you know, I'd rather someone just... published my work already PLEASE :bigfrown:

    Having said that, I still don't know if I'd shot myself in the foot. I did get offered a contract, you know, from a reputable small press, but I just wanted more specific wording on the options clause. Exchanged like 2 emails about that. I figured the worst that could happen is they say nah not negotiable, and then I can think about it. Instead, they withdrew the offer. I probably could have emailed back with my tail between my legs, but I didn't - I decided a small press probably isn't what I wanted anyway as I knew I'd have to be involved in a lot of self-promo, esp on stuff like TikTok and... well... I'm kinda going trad so I won't have to do too much of that, you know? The contract was also pretty vague on what marketing efforts would actually be implemented - promises to send the book out to review were there, but obviously no promise that the book would get reviewed and no venue named in the contract. It just felt... I dunno? I don't know how a good contract should look.

    And I still wonder if I'd made a mistake. If I was too difficult, too ignorant, too arrogant. I don't even know. Everyone says this press is excellent to work with, but the way they withdrew the offer left a sour taste in my mouth. If there was something I didn't understand in the contract, they could have explained. But they just wanted me to shut up and take their word for it, and I didn't. And I feel stupid talking about it because I feel like I was the inexperienced dummy who lost a good opportunity and I should have just sucked it up and said yes.

    Meh.
     
  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    @Mckk -- That's crazy. Wow! I can't believe they did that to you. I'm not even sure what to make of it myself. I've heard that if you get an offer even from a small press, you can contact an agent that has you under consideration to come in and seal the deal. Sure, they're going to take a cut for doing almost no work, but at the same time they'll know if everything looks good and fair. I've also been told that in the beginning you just sign anything. Still, I'm shocked that the press just reminded its offer just like that. On the other hand, this does prove that your work is good enough to get a deal. If it happened once, it can happen again. Good luck, my friend.
     
  5. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you :supercry: Yeah I've been in a slump with writing for close to a year by this point, just feeling discouraged and my heart is in wanting to write book 2 honestly, but also feel like what's the point if no one picks up book 1? So I know I should start something fresh, but my heart isn't in it.

    I did notify agents. Several politely passed and wished me luck. One said she'll definitely read by the deadline and then ghosted (and she's had my full since last Sep lol). I did get one agent call from this, but again, I shot my foot in 2 ways. First, I openly disclosed how many queries I'd sent - she didn't ask, it wasn't her fault - I was just STOOPID. Second, because I'd already queried very extensively, I'd long given up on actually getting an agent, so I'd been subbing to small presses and open door periods to larger imprints including Berkley and Gollancz. Agent said it just makes her life too difficult even though the pubs who haven't responded could technically still be subbed to again. So, after the call, she passed :bigfrown: I was so bummed. She was hugely established as well - the founder of the agency.

    But in a way, it was her call that made me not chase up on the small press - I mean, she'd already passed by the time I was asking the small press about the options clause, so it's not like I didn't chase up on them because of her. But she made me think this book could be bigger if only someone would give me the chance, and I dunno, I thought maybe it would be wiser, a better gamble, a better investment, to keep it as my backlist for the time when - if? - when? - I finally get an agent down the line.

    But after all this, I shelved the book anyway. I figured if someone as established as this agent thought it was too difficult, the book doesn't stand a chance as a debut. From all this, I did think I could position my book differently and try querying from a different angle, but by this point it just feels like I'm beating a dead horse.
     
  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I prefer getting rejected sooner rather than waiting for the staff and judges to make a call on every submission. The longerI wait, the more I tend to trick myself that I could actually have a shot. Oh, what a fool I can be at times. Like right now I'm thinking maybe my contest submission didn't get instantly rejected after going into "in progress" because someone liked it. Does my little story have a chance? The thing is with contests someone has to win. When it comes to regular submissions, most places are under no deadline or obligation to select any of the stories they're sent.

    As far as the contest process goes, in my experience most stories don't make it beyond the first round. Most of those stories aren't even read until the end. And only something really good is sent to another reader for a second opinion (like if it's one of the stories that will be passed on to the contest judge). I would love to make it on a short list or long list. Of course, I would love to win more, but it would be nice to know how far I made it. Contests aren't usually my thing because of the cost. But I will probably always enter a few each year.

    Good luck to you and everyone else throwing their hat in the literary contest ring.
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    It's hard to come close with something and then sort of give up on it. I know the feeling. Been there myself with two books and countless short stories. But here's something I believe. We write what we're supposed to write when we're supposed to write it. And all that leads us to new abilities and possibilities as we continue our writer journey.

    And we're all sort of learning the industry as we go, too. If I were you, when you're querying a new book, reach out to some of the agents you came close with and remind them of that as you ask them to consider a different book. Heck, you could even try that with the small press if you had any interest working with them again.

    I'm all about trade publishing, but I'm not opposed to working with a small press or a university press. In the past I have sought agents and had agents. But now I might just see what I can do with my limited connections and recommendations. I do have an agent who contacted me after reading one of my short stories in a magazine. But I didn't have anything I could send in. I've got a really rough draft of a novel that might be worth sending this agent if I can actually get this story to that level. It hasn't been a priority even though it probably should be.

    I don't know. I haven't been doing well in writing or life lately. Trying to pull it together. Maybe I'll get there.
     
  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I can't speak for the publishing business, but if it's like any other business, when they have 20 equal options for 2 slots they go with the quickest and cleanest. Still sucks, but you probably made the right call. Maybe it's better to be unpublished than to have been poorly published when it comes to round 2? I have no idea.
     
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  9. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    See, I thought I'd be happy with a small press - and who knows, maybe I still would be - but I'm on Twitter and I'm seeing all these debut authors with the big 5s with their special editions, their marketing campaigns, their little signed copies and quizzes and cake pops and special illustrations and... I want that. I'm seeing their photos of going into the book shop and seeing their book standing there. And I'll get none of that with a small press. There's not the budget. With a small press, it's really more of an... assisted self-publishing effort, without the financial risks and with a team to guide you. Maybe it shouldn't matter - much like when I was 18 and applying to university, I wanted to get into one of the top 15 uni's in the country lol. I liked the prestige. Now in my 30s I'm like, who the hell cares about that as long as it's an accredited degree lol. Maybe the big 5 vs small press is a similar thing - it matters now because I don't have it but it actually doesn't matter at all.

    But, man, I still want it. I used to see that stuff and not feel a thing - I wasn't jealous. Now? Now I am, because it feels like that was almost mine. It feels like it really could have been me, but the agent passed.

    And because I was chatting with a trad pubbed author - she's with one of the big 5s - and she told me often having been published with a small press can be a strike against you, because they'll look at your sales figure, only on a limited budget, which is never gonna compare with the figures a big 5 can achieve. So it's always gonna look bad - or very likely anyway - and it looks worse than a self-pub book with no sales because this time you had someone behind you and still it didn't take off.

    And I saw the marketing campaign another trad pubbed author, also with the big 5, had - I asked her about it and she sent me a list of everything they did for her. It took me 15min just to read through it lol. She had 22k pre-orders before the book was ever released. A small press simply doesn't have this sort of power.

    Anyway yeah I do intend on reaching out to those agents I came close to - several asked me to query them again when I have something new, including the one I had a call with. So the second time round will be a little easier, I guess, I hope? Problem is getting that new book started... I'm also pregnant right now - giving birth in 4 weeks lol - so I'm also constantly sleepy. It's basically writing slump coupled with genuine tiredness from the pregnancy lol, and I think I'll be out of commission for at least 3-6 months after the baby's born. It's my 2nd so I sorta know the drill - I'm not really expecting to be mentally functional for a few months after at least.

    And yeah I'm great at holding on. Not so great at giving up. It's why I am wary about querying the same book - it would be so easy to start that again lol.

    That's really cool an agent reached out to you! I always had the impression you were more of a short story person though? Didn't know you also worked on novels. Would the agent be interested in a short story collection from you, seeing as you've had a number of published pieces so you have some readership and foundation already? Maybe that would be more interesting for you than trying to polish a novel? (just going from my impression that your passion is in short stories)

    You've had agents before? For shorts or for novels? What was your experience and why did you part ways?

    I'm sorry to hear you haven't been doing well in writing or in life :( That sucks. Definitely prioritise your life and mental health. The writing will come in time. It will always be there for you to go back to, and you already have a track record of finishing and of success, so there's no fear that you can't just pick up where you left off. I'm sorta trying not to stress about the writing myself - I'd love to have something started before the baby comes, but the priority is enjoying the baby and helping my daughter to adjust to having a new baby brother. I'll have time to write again down the line. In this sense, I kinda wonder if it was a good thing the small press offer fell through - the editor did say she'd like to see a book a year, with allowances made for life circumstances of course, but I can't imagine they'd be happy with waiting more than 2 years. And right now, I'm not sure right now is the time to take on such a commitment in the first place, nor is it the kinda pressure I need at the moment. My babies will have to come first for a little while. My husband's super supportive so I know I'll have time to write - I won't have to wait years, rather just months while we adjust and recover - but y'know, why put a deadline on it, why the pressure. No need for it. You need what you need in this season in your life - no guilt. Look after yourself. Sending hugs.
     
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  10. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yep, someone definitely suggested that - that I'd been too vocal about my inexperience and yeah, too difficult and they couldn't be bothered to take the time to explain. Just wanted an easy deal. With this press, it would have been... mediocre, I think. It's a well-known press so there's some prestige to it, but nonetheless it's still a print on demand contract with very limited marketing efforts where the author is definitely expected to generate her own social media presence. And truth is, I wasn't sure I was 100% comfortable with the responsibility to begin with. I understand this is the norm for small presses, but like I said, there's a reason I'm going trad. If I wanted to deal with social media heavily, I'd self-pub lol.

    And yeah, if your sales figures aren't good, you become more of a risk to the trad pubs. Another trad pubbed author, a third one, also told me that having published with a small press often makes no difference in terms of increasing your chances of a big pub picking you up. So now I'm hearing, being pubbed through a small press can hurt your chances, but will do nothing to better your chances. Sheesh lol. Also, esp for SFF, the big pubs apparently love debuts because that's a marketing angle they can leverage. If you've already pubbed through a small press, that's that angle gone, so you become less attractive. So, yes, it is better to be unpublished than to be poorly published. Also, from chatting with authors who did publish with these small presses I was in touch with (I actually had 2 offers but the other had such poor contract terms it was a no brainer to decline), all the authors kept emphasising how "you won't get rich from this" and how they're still looking for agents. They kept insisting how they love their publisher and will continue with them but they are also looking for an agent lol. Which begs the question: Why? If the publisher was so good and you're so satisfied, why're you looking to share your profits with an agent? Makes me think there're some things you just can't achieve with a small press. Several authors cited the reason they went with the small press at all was for the legitimacy of having been "trad-pubbed" as opposed to "self-pubbed". Now, I want the legitimacy and prestige of trad pubbing too, but come now, I'm not selling my years' passionate work just for that. As I mentioned in previous posts, I don't need the validation anymore - I've had ample from personalised rejections from agents and publishers, including one direct from Penguin. It's just... not a good reason for signing, I feel.
     
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  11. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, that doesn't surprise me, the debut being a marketing plus. I'd say aim for what you want and see what happens.
     
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  12. Native Ink

    Native Ink Active Member

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    I haven't tried to sell a novel yet. I know from reading interviews and biographies that many authors who sign the first contract they're offered come to regret it. Flannery O'Connor spent years trying to reclaim her debut novel from a small press that wasn't up to the task of publicizing or distributing it widely. I do know of some great small presses who are able to launch a book as well as any of the Big 5. (Grove Atlantic, for example). But the POD model doesn't sound appealing at all.
     
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  13. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah the financial risk for the small press is minimal, really, as obviously they'd look for all the free avenues of marketing first and the author is expected to generate her own social media presence, then with print on demand - well, where's the incentive for the small press to do much more? Yet they'd take 75% of print profits and 60% of ebook profits. (and my royalties would be after production costs have been deducted, but the contract does not specify what those might be, leading to grey areas of basically being unable to verify if the royalties are as they should be, basically) For doing what? For sending copies out to review sites with no guarantees of actually being reviewed, and no promises that the review sites they choose would even be prestigious or places you can't sub to yourself? I'm probably being more skeptical than is fair here, I know, but there's a little too much based on good will and trust than I'd like.

    What do those authors you read about come to regret, may I ask?

    Yeah I also spoke with one indie author - I mean, I was in the same chat group with her when she was still querying, before she gave up and went the indie route. Now she's shot herself in the foot because she's got book 2 that cannot be separated from book 1, only the publisher she went with hasn't promoted her book at all. She thought she'd be taken seriously because they'd published a story of hers in some anthology in the past and had expected more effort on their part (see what I mean by the whole "trust and good will"?). Anyway, she's paid out of pocket by this point to promote her book sufficiently. Otherwise, it's just sitting there online. No agent or big pub would touch this book now, of course, and that means book 2 is dead in the water too for the trad route because no big pub would want book 2 and not book 1, but book 1's already been published lol.

    That's the other reason I was hesitant re the small press who offered - I'm hoping my book could be part of a series. Different stories but same world, same MC, and I just wasn't sure what that'd mean if the small press didn't market the book sufficiently to reach the book's commercial potential. I took that indie author's experience as a bit of a cautionary tale.
     
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  14. P.D.Blake

    P.D.Blake Member

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    59 day rejection from Bourbon Penn, and straight back out again.
     
  15. Native Ink

    Native Ink Active Member

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    I think they regret what you fear. A book stuck with a publisher who doesn't promote it or make it widely available. The way they treated you when you had questions about the contract is a red flag too. It sounds like you made a tough decision, and your reasoning behind it seems right. Maybe you can publish Book 2 and then Book 1 could be published as a prequel later? Or if the stories are different, then maybe a little creative editing could allow Book 2's story to take place before Book 1?
     
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  16. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yep definitely considered writing and publishing book 2 first and then do book 1 as a prequel. And yes it is also possible to write something that takes place before book 1. It's primarily a crime novel anyway, so only the characters and their relationships will follow any chronology. The actual plot per novel will be stand alone. In this sense, it is quite flexible! But that's what I was worried about re the options clause - they just didn't wanna specify what a sequel was. I dunno if I was the one who was paranoid, as the contract obviously specifies which book they're buying (it names the book's specific title in the contract), but what constitutes a sequel, right? Just anything set in the same world? Or only when it's the same characters? Or both? With what I have, I could easily write a different cast in the same world (it's this futuristic fantasy world set in London - 500 years into the future, with magic). I'm inexperienced, and this is the first time I'd ever seen a publishing contract. I was worried I'd lock myself into something I'd regret. All I wanted was more specific wording, something like, "A sequel with the same cast of characters", for example. Maybe I was being an ignorant pain fighting a perfectly normal contract clause, but I still don't feel what I asked for was unreasonable? :bigfrown:
     
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  17. P1LGR1M

    P1LGR1M Member

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    Write book two and make book one the prequel. As you write book two it may help you develop/improve book one.

    Just my opinion, but the writing of book two can only be made better by the writing of book one, and book two might lead to a better book one.

    Don't give up.
     
  18. Woodstock Writer

    Woodstock Writer Senior Member

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    Shortlisted for two more Writing Magazine competitions this month! Ugh, I know I should be pleased….
     
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  19. Woodstock Writer

    Woodstock Writer Senior Member

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    Also an 88-day rejection from the Creative Future’s Writing Competition, by an email confirming the shortlist, which I was not on!
     
  20. Woodstock Writer

    Woodstock Writer Senior Member

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    And a 44-day rejection from a Scottish 50-word writing competition, by looking up the web page and seeing the winner’s story (which was not mine!).
     
  21. Woodstock Writer

    Woodstock Writer Senior Member

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    161-day form rejection from the Voyage Anthology Contest.
     
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  22. Woodstock Writer

    Woodstock Writer Senior Member

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    I’ve just had an acceptance for an article I wrote about my cat and his obsessive tendencies! In a special cat-themed zine. No payment and I don’t expect it will reach much of an audience but I needed this after all the rejections!
     
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  23. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Man, these wait times are killing me. Knowing some of my submissions are pretty far past the average wait time totally messes with my head. I've been having a hard time sending out more stuff. Doubt. What's the point? I'm kind of in that phase again. Plus, I keep asking myself if something new is actually ready for submission. I could really use some good news to help me along as I try to get out of this slump with my writing.
     
  24. Set2Stun

    Set2Stun Rejection Collector Contributor

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    Over the long weekend I started submitting to literary agents. For fun, I thought I would submit a couple of short stories while I was at it.

    Rejection from Trampset in only three days! Now that is quality rejection service :D
     
  25. AntPoems

    AntPoems Contributor Contributor

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    Seems like @Set2Stun has the solution to your problem! :supergrin:

    But if you want a REALLY quick pass, the UFO anthology just opened for submissions. Last time they were open, I got a rejection with an invitation to submit a second piece in about 5 hours! (They rejected the second piece in about 6.)

    https://alexshvartsman.com/ufo-unidentified-funny-objects/
     

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