I’d like to thank you for for your rejection

You’ve got to be kidding, right? Thank you for a rejection?

Seriously, my answer is yes. I would like to thank all the agents and editors out there, who somehow snatch some time out of their busy days to pen (or email!) a positive, encouraging comment on their rejections or even better, a thought-provoking comment on the weaknesses in the submission. It’s far, far more useful than a form rejection. Or worse, come to think about it, no reply at all! (And thus the angsting begins… do I bug you with another submission aluding to the unanswered one? Do I just submit again as if it’s the first time? Oh, Miss Snark, how I miss you! )

Look: all writers serious about getting their work published know about rejection and we’ve all heard numerous inevitable horror stories, too. When I set up this blog, I was determined it was not going to be a forum for me to whinge and moan about the downsides of being a writer. Hard on the heels of that promise I made to myself was this: even if I got horrible, awful, soul-destroying rejections, I was not going to post them on this blog for all to see. Who wants to read other people’s rejections anyway? Isn’t it bad enough having to read your own?

So the purpose of this month’s post is to share some of the positives. You know, when you’ve reached that stage of your career that you’re not just getting form rejections and you actually get some feedback.

And before I launch into agent and editor rejections, here’s a form letter with a difference from a publishing company which recently ran a competition I entered. Although I didn’t make it through, their feedback was amazingly helpful and all it took was ticking a few relevant boxes on the form letter. One column was headed up Strengths and the other Weaknesses. Under Strengths, they’d ticked Dialogue, Creativity/Originality and Professional Presentation. The editor had also penciled in another strength that wasn’t listed on the form letter: Voice. (Or as he or she put it: *Voice! … a definite compliment, I thought!) Under Weaknesses, they’d ticked Pacing and interestingly enough, I’d already begun to address that weakness in the ms, so it was good to have that confirmed by professionals.

It doesn’t take much to make a writer’s day, does it? We’re generally sooooo thrilled to have some actual feedback that we even delight in the negatives! Sad but true.

Unfortunately, most rejection letters are not as helpful and the catch phrase I’m seeing and hearing from others at the moment seems to be: ‘I just didn’t love it enough’. It’s tempting to get depressed about this, but as many agents reiterate: this is a business based on personal taste… who’d want to be represented by someone who doesn’t absolutely love your work to bits and beyond? Don’t get down, keep writing and submitting! So to encourage all of you to not to let the rejections get to you, here’s some positive comments I’ve had (and boy, sometimes looking back on these is the only reason I keep writing at all!):

Raw talent is obvious…
Ideas are high concept, writing is clean…
Clearly a very promising writer…
Writing is good, storyline well done…
Intriguing premise…
Submission shows strong potential…
Your website is a testament to your professionalism and dedication – it is truly one of the finest I have seen from an unpubbed author. (Since my husband put together my website, he would like to thank this one appreciative fan of his work!)

And lastly there’s this: “… I think I’m going to pass. My decision is based largely upon my current work load and the fact that I handle only a limited range of commercial fiction, rather than the merits of your project.”

Why is that last one a positive, I hear you asking? Are you delusional? Are the rejections finally getting to you?

No – at least I hope not! It’s a positive for me because not only did the agent take the time to email me with a personal message, but this is obviously a very busy, successful agent who was kind enough to intimate he/she was too busy to take me on. What a nice way to reject someone! 

And what I take away from these comments is that I don’t absolutely suck as a writer. I’ve got something to offer and I just need to keep writing and submitting. Or maybe I need to win Lotto so I can do the writing and pay someone else to do the marketing! Ah well, dreams are free…

Now just for fun I’ll also share one of the most amusing form rejections I’ve ever had. To set the scene, this was back in the days when I was naive enough to think that having written two mss of a fantasy trilogy, I could pitch both mss in the one query letter. No, don’t tell me: I knoooooow!!!! Anyway, the sentence I had a wee chuckle over was this: “…and selling small books by new writers to big publishers is becoming more difficult.” Doubtless that’s true and I have the utmost respect their marketing acumen, BUT… the two mss I submitted were 150,000 and 145,000 words respectively. Small books? Ahhhh, gotta love those form rejections, huh?

Cheers for now!



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