Rejection’s Are Okay

Rejected

Rejections are okay, they are not the end, just a step along the way.

I want to talk about rejection. Specifically about the Query process and query rejections.  I have a finished manuscript also known as a novel or book. I have a cover letter called a query letter that outlines the story and me. I have a synopsis prepared, that is an outline of the entire novel in two pages. 

With all that ready to go, I research Literary Agencies and Literary Agents carefully. I’m searching for one that represents my Genre and subgenre’s, one that I feel would be a good match for my project and me. Then I follow their personal or agency submission guidelines and send them the materials they want to see. (Never send more than what they list)

Then I wait. I check my email like an addict and hit that refresh button as if I can’t function without doing so. Each time I hold my breath, scrunch my eyes and pray to see a Yes, please send more materials.

The dream is to get a yes and then have the agent fall in love with the manuscript and want to represent me.

This is the road to Traditional Publishing. It is a bumpy road full of rejection potholes. 

So what happens when you get a rejection from an agent?

First, the emotional let down is akin to being punched in the gut. They are after all rejecting my heart, soul, and hard work. Oh, and they are rejecting me. It sucks.

Here is a sample of a rejection email I received.

“Thanks so much for sending along the sample pages of Prophecy Ink I’m sorry to say, though, that I just wasn’t as completely drawn in by the material as much as I had hoped.  What with my reservations, I’d better bow out.  Thanks so much for contacting me, though!  I really appreciate it, and wish you the best of luck.”

As it turns out this one was what is called a FORM rejection. A copy-and-paste response. While we hope and pray for some feedback from rejection, the reality is that Agents are busier than we think and this form saves them time. They already spent time reading the queried material they listed to send. I figure the agents are hopeful when they open a query, “Maybe this will be the one,” and when it’s not, I bet they are crushed a little. Now they have to reject someone and their hard work. That has to suck to do. Even if it isn’t personalized the responses are polite and I appreciate that.

If I have an email to respond to, I will thank them again for their time and consideration. I have no idea if Agents want this or not. Despite crushing my hopes and dreams, they are human too, I figure a nice thank you is appropriate.

Side note: some writers get aggressive at this point. They can become belligerent, rude and insulting to agents that say no. Don’t do this. It doesn’t make you right, better or even a good human. That and agents tend to talk and know each other. Just be nice. Patience is required for Traditional Publishing.

Now I have rejection after rejection coming in. Most are form, and some have a little personal note. 

All rejections are hard to take, however, all rejections are a step forward. The advice or message in the rejection can sometimes be helpful. Take this for example:

“After reading your first page, I’m sorry this manuscript is not a good fit for me.” and “I read the first chapter and will pass on this project.”  

These both pointed to a potential problem. I paused queries and took a hard look. Did some digging and research and eventually found some other agents talking about story openings that will get an instant “No” or “Pass.” Huh. No scenes where the Main Character is dreaming, waking up, walking around doing mundane chores… the list went on. I’ll get into that another time. 

Well crap. My story hinged on the premise that Moira wakes up with a tattoo she doesn’t recall getting. Double crap. The chapter was in need of renewal, a renovation of sorts. So I rewrote the first chapter to have her already awake. Is that enough? Time will tell. If I need to rewrite a different angle, I will. Refusing to bend, adjust or change my work will not help me become published. Some would say it’s a “Pushover” or “foolish” thing to change to fit a standard. It’s not. The entire point is to get by a book published and if agents and publishers turn down something for a specific reason and I’ve used that “Something” you better believe I’m going to change it. It would be like walking into the office wearing a bikini. Sure it looks good, and it’s technically clothing, but if they say “You need to change the clothes to work here” You’re likely going to change into more appropriate clothing. Changing the opening isn’t compromising the entire story or me. 

Anyone pursuing traditional publishing will receive rejections. A lot of them. Sure there are the magic few that got signed right away. There are also lottery winners who’ve wone millions. Not many, but it can happen. I’m not holding my breath on luck. I will keep pushing, keep querying and keep trying until I find an agent who wants to work with my manuscript and me. 

My advice about Rejections. 

Rejections are Okay. Get them, get over them, and keep on going. Don’t let rejections deter you or get in the way. Learn from them if you can and know that eventually when you get a YES, all the rejections, hard work, and time will make that yes, sweeter.

-Sheryl

Don’t forget to check out, share and follow the new daily prompt I host. A new word every day!
Your Daily click

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/01/your-daily-word-prompt-Renewal-august-1st-2018/

 

Advertisements

Too Much To Do…

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the story writing process. There is so much more to it than just writing the story. There’s plot structure, the story arch, characters, character development, sub plots, side stories, foreshadows, and so much more.

There’s plot structure, the story arch, characters, character development, sub plots, side stories, foreshadows, settings, story flow and so much more.

Then there is the editing and revision portion. This part seems to be ongoing for me. With this, there are options too. Self-editing, friends editing, professional editing and computer program assisted editing.

Following the editing, there is the ‘getting your book’ published phase. Once again there are options. First, is finding a literary agent by querying them with a query letter and synopsis. Second is vanity press/indie publishing and third is self-publishing.

It all seems rather daunting when summarized and that’s because it is. It is a big task and hard to do. Of course, there will be those that seem to ‘luck’ out and get published with minimal effort and those that struggle and give up after years of rejection.

When I look at this process I always have the grand scope of it in my mind, however, I only focus on the task or ‘stage’ at hand. Right now I’m re-writing and revising my book. It’s a big task but a necessary one. I know the next step will be putting it out there again to literary agents.

This will require me to rewrite my query and synopsis completely. A task I know is coming up and is in my mind but not my focus at the moment.

Once I have the rewrite done I will move on to the next phase and that’s using a computer program to assist with grammar and structure revision.

After that, I have plans to look into a professional editor to assist with the polishing of the book, the query, and synopsis. That’s not soon so I think about it but not too much. One thing at a time for me.

It can quickly become overwhelming if I think too far ahead to all that needs to be done. I get that ‘too much to do’ panic and it can bog me down or derail me fast. So I slow down, sit back and take stock of it all then get back to focusing on what needs to be done first.

My advice about thinking too much.
There is enough stress in life you don’t need to add the anxiety of over thinking the book writing/publishing process and adding to it. Be aware of it, and plan for it but put most of the focus on the task at hand.

-Sheryl

I couldn’t find a way to work Edible into this blog so I’ll link one that already had it… Redundantly Redundant Redundancies 

Related posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Glance back to look forward

My Posts From The Start

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 

The Aftermath Of Rejection

Writing a story is an investment. Of time, energy, heart, soul and everything a writer has to offer. We put it all into our work and it’s hard when it doesn’t meet expectations and is rejected.

I’m going, to be honest, it is very hard to be told no, over and over and over again. Every single rejection brings a deflating wave of disappointment down on me. Sometimes I feel fragile and shattered by the mass amount of no’s. The key is to let it go. Move on and forward. I expect rejections and I’m not bitter about it. It does suck no matter how I look at it or feel about it. I just refuse to let it stop me from trying again. When I started this journey I told myself that there was only one outcome, being traditionally published. I plan to do whatever I have to do to get there. I have a fantastic support network of family and friends that believe in me and offer the encouragement needed to get through the vast swamp of no’s.

I’ve talked about this before, but since it’s part of my daily life I’m talking about it again. Only this time what do I do when I’ve been rejected 100%? First, I look at the possible and most likely reasons my Query was declined.

  1. The agent is busy and I suspect didn’t actually read my query
  2. My query letter wasn’t good enough
  3. There’s too much competition (There always will be, I tell myself to get over it)
  4. My synopsis wasn’t gripping enough
  5. My hook wasn’t as hook like as it could be.
  6. The agent isn’t actually open (Even though they say they are)
  7. There are errors that may need addressing (Grammar, structure, flow, etc.)
  8. My story isn’t good enough. (Yes it is. Never believe your story isn’t good- I dismiss this thought as soon as it pops in my head.)
  9. I’m not a good writer. (Again I dismiss this one too. I am and will only succeed if I don’t give in or give up.)
  10. There are too many queries out there to get noticed (This is a numbers game where persistence will pay off)

Regardless of the potential possibilities I must be open to suggestion and set my ego aside. I will go through each and take the time to ask, can it be better? THe answer is yes.

SO what do I do about it?

  1. I buy/read books on query letters, synopsis writing and open my mind to the possibility that I’m not perfect and there is room for improvement. If I’m rejected 100% over 300 times, then something needs tweaking or fixing.
  2. I look at my notes on the agents and agencies before querying again. (This is a big task and I use spreadsheets to keep track)
  3. Professional editing is always an option (unfortunately it’s also expensive so I do my best to work through it myself.)
  4. I set my work aside for a while before looking at it again. Proximity can be blinding. 
  5. I never give up. I know what I want and I’m going to get there. Even when it feels insurmountable, I never stop trying. 
  6. I get others to read my work and ask for honest opinions. Sometimes, ah who am I kidding, all the time, criticism is hard to hear. But if I’m not willing to listen then I’ll never get my end goal of traditional publishing.  This is the hardest to do and I’ve taken some, sulked and over time mulled it over and found solid advice/reasoning and finally use it to move forward.
  7. I talk to others in the same situation and those that have succeeded. Jealousy will get me nowhere, petty thoughts of ‘why did they get published and not me?’ are dangerous and won’t help.
  8. Keep my mind open to possibilities and change

Although I’ve had well over 300 rejections in my last round of queries I know I need to keep at it. I will revise my query letter, synopsis and try again. I’m also in the process of finding out how to better tailor each and every query to better my chances of getting noticed. There is one thing I’m doing that is huge, but I’ll discuss this another time.

My advice about the aftermath of rejection.
The entire process is an emotional battle field. No matter how carefully you plan your attack and defenses there will be a struggle, loss, pain, highs, lows, frustration, and elation, before you win the battle. The only way there is to never stop trying.

-Sheryl

Other related posts.

Keeping Track

Rejected

Tricky Little Non-Rejection

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Bitter
Tailor

Woooo! Woooohoo!

BiaAtlas Update.

It’s been two years and tonnes of work. After toiling and revising for a final time with all the ‘trouble’ words highlighted in different colours, I’m done.

I Started the final revision 5000 words over the maximum allowable limit. I was able to get the final word count down to 118,876, which is 1125 words below the max of 120,000.  Over 1000 words below what I though I would be able to manage. I can’t believe I was able to trim over 6000 words without compromising the story.

I feel a sense of accomplishment and renewal as I start again with the querying portion of my journey. Now I can start querying Literary Agents again with gusto and start the countdown all over again. I revised my Synopsis, Updated my Query letter and first 50 pages and I’m ready to get to it.

As I query I keep a spreadsheet. For each query I track the Agency, the agent queried, the date queried, their website, their email and if they have an expected time for response on receiving the query and when the query expires. The reason for this is so I don’t accidentally query the same agency twice, they have strict rules about it.

Each agency has their own rules and requests, within the agencies each agent can have their own rules and requests on top of the agencies. Sounds like a lot, but hey they need to weed out the authors who are not serious and potentially wasting their time.

So here I go again. Patience and persistence will pay off I know it.

My advice about writing goals.
If you have a goal anything is possible. Even if you think you’ve hit the wall, look up and find a way over it. 

-Sheryl

Three fun posts I wrote:

What a view I have!

What do you see?

That’s what she saw

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Renewal

Taking the next step

BiaAtlas book update.

I have decided to start querying agents. I worked on my Synopsis and Query letter and got them to a decent quality. My manuscript is still too high on word count, however I decided to go ahead even though the revision is unfinished. I have indicated in the query that the word count will be brought down.

This is believe it or not, very nerve wracking. Once submitted it is a 2-8 week waiting period to either hear back that they are interested… nor not. And the not is usually nothing.

Here is what I’ve learned so far about Literary agents and the query process.

Types:

Independent or small firms (1-5 people)
Boutique (focus on small scale, lots of attention 1-5 people sometimes more)
Larger outfits (6-25 people I haven’t seen higher than 25 yet)

They all have their benefits and drawbacks. This is where research comes in.

Within these there are senior and junior agents. Seniors have published books under their belts, juniors may have one or two.  While the seniors have more experience they are targeted more frequently and therefore have more applications at one time. Juniors have less experience but are highly motivated to prove themselves and build client lists. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Each agent will have a bio and a list of books they are working on and or have published. Each agent has a list of what they are looking for in Genra and style. This is important. I wont query an agent if I don’t like or resonate with who they are and the work they do. It is silly to query an agent that doesn’t represent your Genre. That being said I look for agents that have a strong like for New Adult Science Fiction. That’s my primary Genre.

 

The process.

Choosing an agent is somewhat personal. They should all be AAR accredited. Association of Authors Representatives. This is important and excludes the ones that might not be legit.

Each agent has their own submission requirements and not all are open for queries. Every agency has their own rules. Sometimes they are the same and sometimes they are different. Read carefully.  If they ask for 10 pages double spaced and you give them 15 they will notice. If they ask for no attachments and you attach a pdf of your synopsis they will disregard it. If they ask you to cut and paste into the body of the email do that. So far the standard rule is only one query can be submitted to on agency at a time. So if you query Joe, you cant query Jane, Jill or Jack from the same company until your query expires. Each agency has different times on this too. If you break this rule they say right on their site in the submissions guidelines that your queries will be disregarded.

It is important to get a feel for the Agent/agency and personalize the opening paragraph of the query. NONE and I mean NONE of them like gimmicks or over familiarity. Keep it formal and professional. Treat it like a job application only more important. That being said dry and stuffy doesn’t work either. Find a fine balance of your personality and professionalism. They are after all interested in you AND your work.

I have made a spread sheet keeping track of the day I submit, name of agent if available, email, method, website and their specific timeline(this varies greatly) This is handy for those that say they will respond to verify receipt of query. Again read carefully.

It is quite the process, strict and linear. They receive hundreds of queries a day so they have to be.

The industry standard is 15% commission. That sounds like a lot. But when you look at all they do it is worth it. I have discussed this in the not so direct path to publishing.

My advice about Querying Literary Agents.
Do your research, read carefully and make sure they are the right agent.
I will probably talk more about the process in further detail as I query more this week. There is a lot to talk about.

-Sheryl

Related posts

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

Query letter “creativity drought”.

The first 50 pages.

The prickly process of writing a Synopsis.

The “word count” down.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Unfinished

Something different, something fun

I thought I would do something a little different today. Something just for fun.

I am still working through the information from my consultation and making the revisions and changes necessary to my Query letter and Synopsis.

I have been working on a few designs for logos and header pictures.

So I am asking your opinions on which you like best. Please comment below which you like best of the A B C images, 1 2 3 and which you like best of the X Y Z.

Let explain the reason for my choice of images. The man in the suit represents the large powerful corporation in the book that controls BiaAtlas. The earth symbolizes Atlas the Titan of strength (Titan Atlas is typically symbolized holding or holding up the earth). The elemental background is as close as I can get to the female goddess Bia. She is the goddess of force, such as gravity and resistance. The few representations of her in art show a whimsical strong being, so I represent her with powerful images of things that can’t necessarily be touched. There is also a significant amount of danger in the book thus my choice of fire.

From classic, whimsical to elegant these are my top favorites, I seem to lean toward the purples, I’m not sure why. Please note all images have been purchased or permissions granted for my personal use.

The first four are sans human. More of a ‘logo’ style.

biaatlas-logo-abcd

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

The next three are the close-ups with less background. These symbolize the background to the story.

biaatlas-logo-123-pubCopyright © 2016 All rights reserved

The last three have more of the background image visable.

biaatlas-logo-xyz

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

I hope you liked at least one of them and are willing to let me know. I also welcome constructive criticism. Thanks.

-Sheryl

PS I’ll be getting back to my norm soon.  😉

 

Tulips in July

Silliness and seriousness

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Elegant

Solicited advice.

Twinkle – The word prompt of the day.

There are all kinds of things associated with the word twinkle. It’s a word that conjures the image of light and joy. Twinkle toes, the twinkle of tinsel on a Christmas tree, the moonlight twinkling on the midnight water, a child’s lullaby about stars. For me today the idea of publishing my book has put a twinkle in my eye.

I’m not a fool, I know when I’ve reached my limit and need to solicit professional advice. So I did. Yesterday I had a very motivating consultation. I was told that I am off to a good start and with a little polishing and a lot of work there is potential for my book to be published. I intend to put in whatever effort is necessary to accomplish this task.

My query.  It needs work. I was glad to hear this, because not only did I find out what was wrong, but what to do to fix it. It really was dismal and now it’s showing real promise.

My synopsis. Believe it or not, had a lot of tell, not show. Oops. Well that’s fixable. I also shied away from putting it all out there, laying the full story on the line ending and all. That will be corrected. It is harder to spill the beans when your story contains mystery that was carefully worked in. Keeping it in two pages 12pt double spaced is not an easy task.

My first 50 pages. This is what set me up on cloud nine. While not perfect, I was told my writing is clean, suspenseful and it has good flow, action and dialog. This matches up with what a few others have said, and I can’t tell you how amazing it is to know that it’s not problematic.

My overall word count is still high. I will do what I can to address that. I’m sure if I go over the manuscript carefully I can clean up some sentences.

So armed with the information I need to proceed, the path to publishing is not indirect as it used to be. I am much closer to querying agents in earnest and that is very exciting.

My advice about getting professional help.
Research the professional. What do they have to offer and how professional are they about it? Check many reviews and critiques. Take the time to make sure, if you are paying for a service, that you are getting your value from it. Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice out. If you want others to take you and your writing seriously, then do so yourself.

-Sheryl

PS I’ve been playing with new logo designs. What do you think of the one I used for this post?

Other posts related directly to this one.

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

The first 50 pages.

Query letter “creativity drought”.

The prickly process of writing a Synopsis.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Twinkle

EEEP! I’m Nerve-cited

Today I have my meeting with the literary consultant. I am both nervous and excited. My son calls it nerv-cited.

I’m excited to be taking this step forward in the process to get my book published. I’m nervous to hear him say it’s not worth it. I know it’s just one opinion, but I put a lot of stock in this particular opinion. I don’t expect him to need to be brutally honest, but I do expect honesty.

What we will discuss:
My synopsis
My query letter
My first 50 pages
Is the manuscript ready for queries?
What to do when I get inquires from agents?
And more I probably don’t know about yet.

Honestly I know deep down my manuscript is worth it. I know it’s good and I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished.  I’ll post about how it goes and what was accomplished etc. Good or bad I’ll share since it’s all part of my journey.

I need to prepare mentally and physically.

-Sheryl

 

The first 50 pages.

The prickly process of writing a Synopsis.

Query letter “creativity drought”.

Over used and oft abused.

Ah, the word shiver. Over used and oft abused. This is on my personal list of filter words. One that is injected into a sentence to replace showing an emotion. I find it in plethora among the words of a romance, horror or mystery. Or just dumped in to lazy writing, like I’m guilty of. 😉

At first I used this word freely, it’s a great way to express an obvious feeling right? Well yes and no. People shiver for different reasons, it’s those reasons that suggest this blanket word can be stretched out or removed altogether.

Example 1.

Billy’s fingers gently brushed the back of her arm sending pleasant shivers across her body. (15)

Not a bad sentence really. A few unnecessary words. If I’m also worried about (word count) I would remove gently and pleasant, they are implied anyway. Three words doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly.

Her skin tingled as Billy’s fingers brushed the back of her arm. (12)

Example 2.

Elouise shivered suddenly for no reason whatsoever. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” She muttered to herself. (18)

Meh, it could use a little trimming and rewording.

Elouise frowned and rubbed her arms. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” (13)

Example 3. (I still write like this.)

Tod had never felt so bone achingly cold in his life. He was shivering so hard his teeth chattered loudly. (20)

Now I know enough to rewrite it to this. FYI the word felt is a super filter word.

Tod wrapped his arms around his aching body, unable to stop his chattering teeth. (14)

Do I never use the word shiver? No, it’s a fun word that evokes a personal response. I do use it sparingly or try to anyway. Sometimes a plain ole shiver is just what the story needs, especially if there is no established reason for it.

My advice about overuse.
Overuse can happen with any word, shiver is just an example. Make a list of ‘important’ words you see too often in your writing and then see how often you actually use them. Then see if you can switch it up or swap it out, but don’t jeopardize the story or the flow if you can’t think of a way to change it.

-Sheryl

 

Other related Posts.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Shiver

Obvious

Jeopardize

“How could you?”

Me and my first.
“Are you cheating on me?” That question was a long time coming.
I cast my eyes away. “Yes, yes I am.”
“How long has this been going on?”
I swallowed hard. “Half way through revision I took a break.”
“A break!”
I need to be honest, to come clean. “Yeah, I started another book.”
“How could you? I thought I was your one and only!”
“You are my first, and I love you, but I need to move on. I need more.”
“So it’s over?”
I smiled and tilted my head. “Oh no, it’s far from over. You and I have a big future ahead of us. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but I’m not a one book kinda gal.”

Moving on from working on one book to another is strangely emotional experience. I’ve spent so much time with my first book, reading, revising, and editing that it feels as if I’m being unfaithful. Which is funny because it’s a continuation of the story and characters. Even so, as I sit and read through my very, very rough draft of my second book, I feel as if I should be working on the first one.

I shake my head in amusement at all the typo’s, taglines, grammar errors, filter words and so on. I have a lot of work to do and it’s not at all daunting for me. I love editing my own work, because its mine. The satisfaction of seeing it go from simple raw ingredients to a beautifully decorated cake, is unbelievably rewarding. Unless it turns out to be a nut filled fruitcake, then something went horribly wrong.

With first book is finished and in sort of limbo. I have an appointment in a week and a half with a consultant to work on my first 50 pages, synopsis and query letter. Once they are perfected, I will begin the hunt for a Literary Agent. I’m so excited.

My advice (that has nothing to do with this post).
Go ahead and let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Then prove them wrong in a spectacular way.

-Sheryl

 

Other posts related to editing.

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Show and tell

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Cheat