Archive for the ‘rejection’ Category

Riding the Rejection Train

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I am currently in the position of having two completed manuscripts and no publisher.  One is a horror novel, the other is the second book in the series about amateur sleuth Shara Summers.

I’ve started submitting these two and I get a strange feeling of deja vu.  Between 2007 and 2009 I also had two novels to submit – one horror (SUFFER THE CHILDREN) and one crime (DEATH SCENE), the first Shara Summers book.  Then Lyrical accepted SUFFER THE CHILDREN, followed by DEATH SCENE, and the rest is history.

But now I find myself riding the submission/rejection train again, for the first time in quite a while.  Though actually I think ‘rejection roundabout’ is a better metaphor.  You feel like you’re going round and round in a circle.

I can categorically say it doesn’t get easier.  I’ve only just started this journey again, with each novel being sent out to only one publisher so far.  Unfortunately it happened that the responses arrived at the same time, in spite one novel being sent out quite a while before the other.  The rejection for the crime novel arrived on Monday; the rejection email for the horror novel on Tuesday.  So it’s not been a good week.

Before I was published I held this fantastical idea that being published would make it all better.  That once I had one novel accepted, everything else I wrote would automatically get accepted, and I would never again worry that what I was writing wasn’t good enough.  But that’s not the way it works.  Just because someone accepts one novel doesn’t necessarily mean they – or anyone else for that matter – will like everything else you write.  And you don’t stop with the writer insecurities.  Instead of fearing I’ll never be published, now I fear that the first two novels got published as a bit of a fluke, my creativity is spent and I’ll never write anything of publishable quality again.

But the same rules apply to all writers, no matter how much or how little experience you have.  When the rejections come, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.  So I’ve crossed the first names off the submission list for these two manuscripts, and getting ready to go down the list.

For the time being, though, I’m still smarting from the double whammy of being rejected twice in two days.  I’ll be over here in the corner for a while, quietly whimpering.

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One Track Mind

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Whenever anyone asks me when I started writing I say, “age six”.

That was the age I was when I learned how to form words on a page. That’s when I began to learn how to write my stories down. I had been telling them before then. I was making up stories in my head from the age I learned how to think. From when I first began to talk.

I was about ten when I started telling people who asked me what I wanted to be when I left school that I was going to be a writer. I was eleven when I wrote my first novel.

I don’t think I was particularly advanced. I just believe that I was born to be a writer. That’s all I ever wanted to be. In truth, it’s all I’ve ever been any good at. I was always hopeless at sports – I can’t run, I can’t catch, I am clumsy, and I have absolutely no hand-eye co-ordination. I was always last to be picked for the teams in gym class.

I’m no good at crafts – knitting, sewing, and the like. It’s that hand-eye co-ordination again. I can’t cook. I can’t cultivate plants – they all die on me. I’m not even very good at computer games. Yes I like them, and I play them a lot, but my aim in taking out those zombies is abysmal and it takes several goes to get through a level. I have no maternal instincts – when I play The Sims my virtual children get taken away by social services. Lord knows what would happen if I was let loose on any real-life children. It’s probably best for everyone if we don’t find out.

The only thing I’ve ever been able to do is write stories. It’s the only thing I’ve ever felt I’m any good at. And at particularly dark times of my life, I’ve thought writing stories is the only justification for my existence. The only thing I contribute to the world.

Being a writer. This has been my focus for my whole life. I had a goal to be a published novelist by age 30. My 30th birthday came and went. No publishing deal wasn’t for lack of trying – I had two completed novels by then that I had been submitting for years. I decided to modify my goal, and aim for a book contract by age 40. As 40 approached I thought I would have to modify it again. But then, a couple of months before my 40th birthday, the contract from Lyrical for SUFFER THE CHILDREN arrived.

This was, as I have mentioned before, the beginning of the story instead of being the end. I have now had three books published and I am proud of that, but there are times when it’s not enough. I have met authors who make enough money from their writing to get by day to day. That’s not so for me. Since the day I got the first cheque for “The Top Floor” in 1989 from FEAR magazine up until my last royalty statement, a period of 24 years, the gross total of money I have earned in all that time from writing equates to less than what I earn in a month in the day job. Sometimes I fear I am a mere drop in a very big ocean in the writing world.  I haven’t even found my books on any pirate e-books sites. Let me make it clear that I fiercely disapprove of e-book piracy. It’s stealing, from people for whom every penny counts. Every time I see a message on a forum from a writer saying something along the lines of, “this new pirate site has appeared, I found my books on it, be sure you check for yours and get them to take it down. What cheek!” I diligently go look for my books. To date I have never found any of them on a pirate site. Now, writers get very upset when their books are pirated, and understandably so. But when you’re not even considered important enough for pirates to think your books are worth stealing, you can’t help but feel rather insignificant.

I would like to be able to make enough money from writing to do it full time. I’d like to land a deal with a publisher who can get my books into Waterstones or Barnes & Noble or another major book store chain. I’d like to be approached by Con organisers to be a guest or a panel member instead of my going to them and begging.

When you’ve had one focus all your life and it always feels a little bit out of reach, you do sometimes feel like you’re the donkey with the carrot on the stick tied to its ears, constantly trying to get to something you will never be able to reach. But still, you don’t give up.

Maybe these things will happen one day. But maybe they never will. For now, I guess I just keep reaching for that carrot. Because I am a writer. That’s what I am, first and foremost. Whether anyone knows or cares who I am in the future doesn’t really matter – I know who I am. I am a writer. That will never change.

The Latest Rejection

The Zeno Agency is currently open to submissions. This is a relatively rare occurrence and was worth a look, so I studied their submission guidelines (like the good little writer I am) and noted that they are looking for crime at present. So, off went an email query for the crime novel.

Two days later, I received a very polite rejection. Ah well. It was worth a try.

This makes 37 rejections for this particular novel. It is the novel I am currently working on giving a further polish. Hopefully the polishing will give it that extra shine necessary for an acceptance.

Positive Rejection Part 2

I’ve just had another encouraging – in my view – rejection for the horror novel.

I sent it to a new small publisher. The feedback I have just received from them seems to suggest that the editor actually rather likes it and thinks it’s well written (always reassuring to hear), but it’s not quite right for their line. He did add, though, that as they are a fledgling press they may well make changes to their line in the future, and if so he may revisit it.

This is encouraging, in my opinion, and better than a generic rejection letter. Of course, an acceptance would be better, but I’ll take what I can get.

Positive Rejection

I’ve just had a rejection for the horror novel from a UK editor.

He did say my synopsis was well-written, and would have been enough to make him want to read the whole thing, but that the plot sounded too familiar.

This I actually find quite encouraging for a rejection. If the point of the synopsis is to make the editor want to read the full manuscript, then it seems it has succeeded. And synopses are a killer to get right, as all writers know.

So on the whole, I count this one as a good rejection.

Rejection Train Picks Up Speed

I’ve just had my fastest rejection ever.

I emailed a query for the crime novel off to a US agent yesterday. Less than half an hour later I got her reply, saying sorry but it didn’t sound like what she was looking for.

Well, I can’t fault her promptness – I guess it’s better that those who keep you hanging on for months on end. Back to perusing my list of people yet to try!

Current Submission Status

The current status of unpublished novels, including the one in progress, is as follows:

Novel #1
SUFFER THE CHILDREN (horror novel):
Completed: 2004
Total number of rejections to date: unknown (I didn’t start counting for this one)
Current number of outstanding submssions: 6

Novel #2
DEATH SCENE (crime novel):
Completed: 2007
Total number of rejections to date: 32
Current number of outstanding submssions: 3

Work in Progress
BLOOD IS THICKER (supernatural crime novel)
Working on Draft 2 – currently 14,800 words in

Most of the rejections I have received for both finished novels have been the standard letter type, which contain no useful information about where I might be going wrong. I see that as a good sign, really.

I intend to keep on sending them out.