I can think of no other activity where I would lay myself open in the manner I do with my writing. I long ago put aside any ego or pride, because if I hadn't then I wouldn't have sent of my second submission. I would have played safe and kept my writing for my own pleasure and that of friends. You can't afford to have either; they get in the way of what you want, if you want to be published.
To me, now, it is just my stubbornness that keeps me going on time after time....
Just before last Christmas an NY agent requested the first 50 pages of one of my novels.
In early March they requested the whole manuscript. Today I received there answer and I quote.
I like many things about the manuscript, especially your ornate and unusual writing style and strong intuitive feel for fantasy archetypes. Unfortunately
It's the unfortunately, it jumps off the page and makes you feel sick, you then scramble to try and read the rest. Oh yes the faults are detailed there, whether I agree with them or not, it is a judgment I have to accept. I failed this time...
I now have to turn my attention to my other works out there. With one I will have to wait until next April to find out if I am crap again. I have submitted a novel to the Lichfield Prize 2004…..
November 4th, 2003, 02:30 PM
Holbrook, sending a manuscript for review is in NO WAY a failure of anysort. The "Unfortunately" part can be very disappointing, as it is right now... I know that with you there is no need to go into the facts related to submissions, you have always known and accepted the risks... But never is an unfortunate response a bad thing. Getting the words out at all is a success, and sharing them a great and noble feat...
Go be stuborn, work on those other projects and when the time is right come back to this story and share it again.
November 4th, 2003, 04:21 PM
From the point of view of an editor the quality of a submission is relative to what else is on your table, as well as to how tight your publishing schedule is.
Next, there is the "I really like this but I don't think I can sell it" phenomenon. "Average" is better in that respect, as there will be fewer people who don't "get it".
Lastly, you have to align your "guidelines" with your boss's (or the firms long established) publishing philosophy.
All this gets hurled together in your puny brain, and in the end you make a decicion; yes or no. Often, the only thing that keeps you from questioning your decision is routine.
And then there is a letter to write... You don't want to discourage the writers you turn down. You tell them what's good about there submissions; but they'll want to know why you turned them down so...
...there's that "unfortunately". It's there to tell the author why you turned him down... but it's also a rationalization; a legitimization of a decision you may still doubt. If you'd got this manuscript a view years earlier...
I'm not an editor, but I've known one. The letter you're receiving is very likely not a "judgement" (unless you've got that kind of editor, but they're a pain to work with, so in that case you'd be better off turned down), it's the explanation of a decision. And neither have you failed: There's a lot more to being published than just quality, and most of them are beyond the influence of an author. They could easily have taken your manuscript; the "faults" would have been the same, but they wouldn't have gotten you an "unfortunately", but a "Look, we need to talk about this..."
If you're reading this I've been brave enough to hit the "Submit Reply" button... Not sure if what I'm typing is of any relevance to you. I'm writing for fun; I've submitted a few stories, and got just as many rejections. It's been fun comparing them. :)
November 4th, 2003, 07:06 PM
You got your manuscript read? You lucky dog! Now, was there any useful information following that unfortunately? Let me know if you need editor-speak interpretation.
And just for reference, are the agents pulling the I have to have it exclusively forever routine right now or not? I've heard conflicting reports.
November 4th, 2003, 07:37 PM
Don't worry H, it may just be that agent who has an "unfortunately", another may not. Your stuff is as good as anything out there (I say that, after reading it) and all authors get kicked in the teeth. It's a rite of passage! You have to have something to talk about over your wine at that book launch... you have to look like you suffered for your craft. Even JKR did the ten submissions thing.
Hey, a New York agent said: "you have an ornate and unusual writing style and strong intuitive feel for fantasy archetypes."
Well done H!
November 4th, 2003, 10:26 PM
I view every rejection, every critique, every re-edit as bringing my works a little closer to perfection.
It's the only way you can afford to think if you want to weather the storms and make it as a writer.
November 5th, 2003, 07:32 AM
As Rocket Sheep said, even JKR was turned down for Harry Potter countless times before being published. Rejection doesn't necessarily show lack of quality in any aspect of the novel.
November 5th, 2003, 08:12 AM
In fact, JKR goes to prove that a lot of the time what it shows is lack of sense on the part of the editor.
November 5th, 2003, 11:56 AM
That sucks. I know how much this one meant to you. I still maintain though that your work is way and above a lot of the crap that is out there. You will get published soon enough if you keep trying, this I know for certain. It is simply a matter of time. In the meantime sit back, have a large port on me and wallow in the satisfaction that you are way and above the rest of us mere mortals who haven't even written an entire novel yet.
November 6th, 2003, 07:43 AM
Thanks folks for all their kind words... its pick myself up and plod on time.. having a head cold and facing som e major treatment of the medical kind in the coming month hasn' helped but...
Been this route so many times I know the way by heart, but this was the first time an agent actually wanted the whole thing.. I suppose it is a step in the right direction....
KatG: sent you the whole paragraph that sealed the fate...