Sunday, April 17, 2011

Agonizing Over Rejections

The Wild Rose Press is known for its kinder more personal rejections—a vast difference from those received from some publishing houses. My first impersonal one read something like: Dear Author, Your story does not fit our publishing house at this moment. We wish you all the best in finding the right place for your manuscript. Sincerely, The Editing Team. Wow, I wondered why it didn’t fit. I wondered what they were looking for. I wondered if they even read it. Many more followed that first one, never giving me any insight into what I had done wrong.

I was depressed for two days after my first rejection. No, not the ones I received, the first one I wrote. As heartbreaking as getting a rejection, writing one is much more difficult. I agonize over every word, worried I may be crushing someone’s dreams.

That’s why each letter I write is so tough and definitely not a task I relish. And whether it is an established author or a new one, the letter is still the same. The author should know why the story wasn’t quite ready for publication at TWRP. Could it have been in need of more showing and less telling? How about an adjustment on the amount of points of view? Does the sexual tension need to be increased? Was the plot good, but the mechanics needed some work? Maybe it was an overused plot. Or the manuscript lacked any type of proofreading. And in historicals, the accuracy plays a big part in acceptance or rejection, especially vocabulary. Someone from the Wild West isn’t going to say okey-doke. It wouldn’t fit the time period. (FYI – Okey-dokey wasn’t used until 1932.)

When doing a rejection, I make sure I’ve addressed the author by name, and that I’ve spelled it correctly. Next, I’ll look over my notes in track changes and write a paragraph  for each major error I have noted. Finally, I’ll look them over again, just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. For the newer authors, I may direct them towards TWRP Greenhouse or suggest finding a critique partner. TWRP also has a critique group called The Rose Trellis. I’ll also include with the rejection letter a self-editing guide sheet. My established authors get the same helpful letters—a letter of suggestions, not criticism.

And still, knowing I’ve done my best to help the author, the anguish continues as I place my cursor over the send button and press. So, when you receive a rejection from any editor at TWRP, please realize we want to help you to continue blooming and growing so that you will become or remain a WRP rose.

As I always say at the end of my letters, I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors.

Allison Byers
Historical Editor


Lorraine said...

TWRP editors have been fabulous to work with, their feedback worth its weight in gold. I currently have 4 manuscripts under consideration by 2 different editors, and I can't praise them enough. Lori and Susan, you're the best! You've shown me how to proceed with my writing and what areas needed to be improved on. My writing is much stronger for it and, as soon as tax season is over, I'm tackling revisions to resub. For a newbie like me, your patience and guidance are invaluable. Thank you! And thank you, Allison, for such a terrific write-up.

LaVerne Clark said...

Thank you for heartfelt post Allison. It just highlights for me why I'm so thrilled to a rose in the garden! I love how the whole team are there to help, not hinder a writer's journey.

My initial terror after hitting the 'send' button on my very first submission, was soon eased with that first personal letter telling me exactly what I needed to do to improve my story and give it the chance of publication. Not a flat out no! WOW!! Where do you get that kind of feedback from anyone else?

My story has a happy ending due to that letter and the reworking with the suggestions in mind. I can't praise my editor, Johanna enough. We truly are blessed to have such a team helping us become the best we can be.

Lilly Gayle said...

Allison, you are also a super editor. You never tried to change my story, just make it better. And it is. Thank you!

Jannine Gallant said...

The editors at TWRP are always supportive. The first novel I submitted was 136,000 words long and full of POV changes. Still, Laurie encouraged me to edit and resubmit, and Ally saw worth beneath the head hopping nightmare. I can't thank them enough for giving me a chance instead of a form rejection letter!

Cherie Marks said...

Wow! Thank you for giving the other side of a rejection. I appreciate TWRP in so many ways. One of the major ones is how much I've grown in the short interaction I've had with a TWRP editor. I'd venture to say, I'm blooming as a writer and that's all because a TWRP editor took the time to give such helpful suggestions.

Barbara said...

As an author who has received my share of generic rejections, I appreciate your comments, Allison. I often wonder how anyone could expect us to grow without a few words of kindness and encouragement? I'm a newbie to TWRP, but I have only the highest praise for the feedback and encouragement I've received.

allywildrose said...

Great post, Allison. You put my exact feelings into words. I agonize over rejections. But, it's a wonderful feeling when I offer suggestions and the opportunity to resubmit, and the manuscript comes back sooo much better...and I'm able to offer a contract! I sincerely appreciate the authors who are so gracious about the feedback.

Thanks for the kind words, Jannine. You were a joy to work with. :-)

Jennifer Snow said...

I love submitting to TWRP. I started submitting manuscripts in 2007 and just this year signed my first contract after my first three manuscripts were rejected-for good reason! lol. But the feedback I received on those were incredible and they helped me reach this point in my writing. I am very grateful for those rejection letters otherwise I think I would still be making the same writing mistakes. I would encourage all romance writers to submit to TWRP and to definitely use the awesome resources provided on their website. The self editing guidelines are my new bible lol:) Thanks TWRP:)