Managing rejections – again!

I regularly receive rejections, and occasionally receive feedback. Why so many rejections? Well for a start, I regularly submit my work to various publishers, journals and competitions. You don’t get rejected if you don’t submit.

Whenever I receive a rejection, I’m left with a feeling of emptiness, and in some cases, feel a little embarrassed and stupid because I sent in a piece of work that didn’t cut the mustard.

Yesterday I received two knock backs for two separate pieces of work. (With most publishers requesting that you don’t submit pieces with multiple pitch enquiries in the market, I find myself with a couple of projects ready for pitching at the same time).

Both of these rejections were very polite, and came with useful feedback. One stated that they genuinely liked my submission, and how I had presented it, but that it didn’t fit with the style of pieces they were aiming for in the current season’s publications. They added that they had a work of similar style, and hadn’t been able to get market traction with it. I believe them. Why would they bother sending a one page response to an emerging author when a “thanks but no thanks” would do.

The other was for a short story. The feedback was that my dialogue “felt a bit flat” in places, and that the formatting of my manuscript was a little unusual. I’m not sure what happened with the formatting, it looks fine on my computer, but I will removed all formatting and start again when I’m next ready to submit it.

The issues with the dialogue definitely need investigating. This had not been brought to my attention by any of the many folk I had read through it. Perhaps they were just being polite when they said that it was great, or maybe some thought that something was a little off, but weren’t sure what it was. Or maybe they didn’t have the expertise to spot it.

One of my fellow writer’s recently received feedback on a piece saying that it was, among other things, “pedestrian”. I had personally found it to be well written and entertaining, but then again, I’m not reviewing 40 pieces of work in the same genre everyday.

I suspect that I’m in need of a writing mentor to get me over some of the stylist hurdles, but I can’t afford to employ one, and don’t qualify under any of the ‘disadvantaged artist’ schemes for entry into a special program. Yeah, I know – me and everybody else. Tough luck, huh. But I will continue to plug away at it, until I get there.

On a positive note, these days I almost always receive rejections with feedback and words of encouragement. This is very different from the ones I used to receive when I started submitting works four years ago (no response, one-liners etc.). Progress is progress.

Rejections in all areas of life are disheartening, but every experience brings you closer to getting that acceptance. So to all of you budding writers out there who are feeling a bit down about your perceived lack of success, hang in there and keep submitting, reviewing, and re-submitting your work. You can’t win the draw if you haven’t bought a ticket.

The journey continues…

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Panic editing, pitching and other messy processes.

I am bang, smack in the middle of rewriting (and I mean rewriting) my cosy mystery story. I received some exceedingly valuable feedback from an agent about this piece, and what it needs to reach a marketable point. Scary advice – but once I stopped sulking, and really looked it, I realised that she was right. The suggested changes will make a huge difference to the readability (and saleability) of the piece.

So now I’m in the middle of an anxiety-producing rewrite. I have no idea if I’m going to make the Easter deadline either. Having said that, it cheered me greatly to see a post from a fellow writer on a facebook writers group (of which I am a member). She said that it had taken her 18 months to (a) deal with the feedback, (b) redraft her story, and (c) finish the draft to a submittable level. Good to know that I’m not the only one paralysed by fear at the prospect of a rewrite. So, its onwards and upwards with that one.

And just to make my writers journey more challenging, I’ve finished the rewrite of my new junior grade fiction novel, prepared the pitching materials and synopsis, and am about to embark of the process of submitting it to various publishers. Expect that rejection widget to see some action over the next three months. Hey, you never know, I may actually get an acceptance/show of interest!.

Fingers crossed. Keep up your writing!

 

Giving feedback and the pain of rejection

stamp-895383_1920In addition to my writing, book reviewing and writers group activities, I review pieces of work for a couple of women who, for various reasons, are unable to join a writers group. One of them, a person new to the writing game, recently submitted a manuscript for a review with a private editing service. She was so upset by the feedback that she received that I thought it important to discuss feedback and rejection again.

I need to be upfront here and say that I didn’t see the actual response from the editor, so my reflections are based soley on the reactions of the receiver. The young woman was told that she needed to rethink her piece and maybe abandon the project. Needless to say she was devastated and began questioning whether she should write at all. I have personally read the material in question, and although it needs significant work, it is not a total write-off.

Feedback is about how you communicate – both the giving and receiving ends. Personally I’m grateful to receive any feedback. Even negative feedback – it gets me thinking about the work in question.

Giving feedback can be difficult. I have read a lot of dreadful material (most of it actually published/self published) and I know how hard it can be to remain neutral and not get annoyed about the time you may have wasted reading it. But you have to remember that someone has put their heart and soul into their writing and may genuinely believe that they have a best seller on their hands. Your feedback is essential but a gentle approach is more likely to have a positive impact. Things to remember when giving feedback/a rejection:

  • Learn a little about your author. How old are they? What experience do they have? What is their level of spoken and written English. Target your reply to suit the audience. Be clear and firm without being nasty and harsh.
  • Rather than saying “It’ll never sell”, “No one will want to read this”, try “Who is your intended audience?”, “What book is your story similar too?”, “What publishers put out similar books?”. Encourage the author to think about their work and potential readers.
  • If there are issues with the theme/story line, rather than saying “I have no idea what this is about” or “I can’t understand it. It’s dreadful”, try “I’m not really sure that I understood what you were trying to convey here.” Ask the author to explain what they are writing about. “What do you consider the main theme of the story?”.
  • Give constructive feedback, the hard truth needs to be told but keep it nice, and do refer the author to other texts and writing guides which may be helpful.

Things to remember when receiving feedback/a rejection:

  • Don’t lose your temper, throw out your work, write a rude email/letter in response, and/or through out the offending review.
  • Take a deep breath and put it away/out of sight for a couple of days.
  • When you go back to it read it carefully. Often when you do your initial reading all your see are the red marks and negative words.
  • Break it down into sections and really think about it. Why did he/she say that they didn’t think that character X was believable? Is this true? Why didn’t they find Joke 3 funny?
  • It’s very likely that there are some valid criticisms, questions and suggestions in the feedback. Don’t miss some really helpful advice because you’re upset by the style of communication.
  • Remember that you can use as much or as little of the feedback as you wish (unless its from the publisher in which case it’s put up or push off).
  • If in doubt get another opinion.

Don’t let a bad review, nasty rejection, no-feedback-standard rejection, or a total lack of any sort of response be the reason that you give up on your dream. Chalk it/them up to experience and get back to the writing desk.

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Looking for more advice: I recently read an interesting article posted by Writers Victoria on Facebook  about why rejections are important. It is well worth a look: “Why you should aim for 100 rejections a year” by Kim Liao (Link here)