Friday, October 1, 2010

Guest Blogger - Dorothy Howell


Wouldn’t it be nice if every editor and agent in the world loved every word we wrote? Yes, it sure would. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

Nobody likes to be rejected -- especially a writer who has poured her heart, soul, time, money, and creativity into writing a book. Even after publishing 26 books, with contracts for four more, I still don’t like it. A few months ago I had an e-book rejected. While I agreed with the editor’s reasoning, it still hurt.

It’s some comfort to know there are reasons your manuscript might be rejected, none of which means something is wrong with your work. The line could be over-bought or is shutting down. The editor might have just bought a book very similar to yours. Perhaps yours is simply not the type of story they’re looking for, or your story line isn’t right for their readers.

It’s important to remember that receiving a rejection isn’t the end of the world. First of all, give yourself a pat on the back for actually completing the manuscript and getting up the nerve to submit it. These are no small accomplishments.

While your first instinct might be to cut your rejection letter into small pieces, set it on fire, bury the ashes in your backyard, then run over it with your car, don’t. Put the letter aside for a few days, then go back to it. There may be valuable information in it that will help you get published.

Look for the positive. Did the agent/editor tell you specifically what he/she liked about your manuscript? Getting any sort of feedback is fabulous. Receiving a two page, single-spaced letter detailing each and every thing that didn’t “work” (which actually happened to me) is painful, but it’s also the very best thing an author can hope for.

Take the time to read the agent/editor’s comments and carefully consider them. After all, this person is a professional; you thought enough of him/her to query in the first place. He or she knows a lot more about publishing that you do – for now, anyway.

Ask yourself if you can make the suggested changes. Can you re-work whatever it is the agent/editor didn’t care for? Is it a matter of plotting or character motivation? Is it something deeper, such as voice? Most importantly, if you make the changes, will you stay true to your vision of the story?

Remember that in the end, this is your work. You’ll be the one standing in front of women’s groups, panel discussions, friends and relatives talking about it for months, or years to come.

Remember too that once your book is published, it will become your brand. If an editor accepts your cozy mystery with a light paranormal twist on the condition that you revise it and turn it into a full blown horror story, it means you’re a horror writer. That’s what your editor, and your readers, will expect from you. Make sure that’s what you want to do.

Most importantly, don’t let a rejection stop you. Once you submit your manuscript, immediately start writing something else. Believe in yourself, in the story you created, and pursue your dream.

Happy writing!


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