Category Archives: Rejection

Rejection, Edits, and Critics…Oh, my!

It seems that yesterday’s post spawned some very good questions, and rather than force everyone go slog through the conversation in teeny-tiny letters, I thought I’d get a little more in-depth on some of the answers I gave yesterday.  First off, it floored and humbled me that someone would actually ask for my advice.  I freely admit that I have no clue what I’m doing, but to have such wonderful questions asked of me was quite touching.

You guys know who you are. 🙂

Moving on:  I think the best approach to this post is going to be to discuss things in order of appearance in a writer’s life.

1. Rejection

A good friend of mine, Lucy Blue, told me after my very first rejection that it was part of a writer’s life, and ultimately didn’t mean squat in the big picture.  And you know what?  She was so very right.

The first rejection I got hurt like hell.  It scared me.  It made me throw an absolute temper tantrum that nearly made my husband toss me out on my head.  I threw my pen down and swore I’d never write anything ever again, because I sucked and I wasn’t good enough, and I would never, ever, ever make it.

And then when I finished with the screaming fit, I looked at the story again, and realized that the reason it was rejected was because it did need a hell of a lot of work.  It still does, as a matter of fact, because I’m still working on it.  When I’m done fixing it, I’ll resubmit, but until then I’m going to take that advice to heart.

My second rejection was from a pretty big name in the Romance world.  My story wasn’t right for them, but after a few fixes, Rebel Ink handed me a contract in two hours.  I think that was some sort of record.  (BTW, E…if you’re reading, there are three more stories in that series!)

The last rejection I got was from the same house as the first rejection.  I turned around the very next day and sold it to Sugar & Spice.  That contract turn-around was less than 12 hours.

Each one stings.  It hurts.  A LOT.  Yes, you have another person dangling your fate before your eyes.  Yes, that person has the ability to crush you with the flick of her wrist.  Yes, she is passing judgment on the manuscript that you have poured your heart and soul into.   Yes, it sucks complete ass.

But the point I’m trying to make here is that just because your story isn’t right for one house doesn’t mean another won’t love it.  I know I said this in the discussion on the last post, but submission editors are absolutely overwhelmed right now, and as one of the many adding to their respective workloads, I respect their decisions to drop the floor out from under me.  A rejection is not a “do not ever write again” note.  It’s simply an “I’m sorry, but your work isn’t right for us, thanks” or a “we’re overhelmed and can’t handle anything else right now, sorry” note.

There are levels of rejection, too.

An outright form rejection means that your work isn’t a fit at all for them.  Sorry, but send it somewhere else.

A “revise and resubmit” note means they have faith in your work, but you need to fix what they tell you to fix.

A note from a sub-editor telling you that you’re being handed off to another editor is a good sign.  It means they like you, but aren’t sure they can handle you at the moment.

And then there’s that glorious note that you open and find yourself surrounded by white light with an angelic chorus in the background:  The Acceptance Letter.  See the next section.

 

2. Edits

I’m going to tell you right now…I’m a huge baby when it comes to edits.  I’m terrified of them, because I’m always on the lookout for that “OMG…don’t EVER write again” note from my editor.  Yeah, yeah…I know it’s not likely to happen, but it’s still a huge fear.

My last round of edits wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.  My editor, Rory, is a wonderful woman who really knows her stuff and has endless patience.  How she didn’t absolutely choke me, I don’t know.  Probably because she’s half a country away.

The best advice I have for any new writer is this:  YOUR EDITOR IS YOUR FRIEND.  Yes, she’s going to be brutal, but that’s her job.  She is meant to point out every flaw, typo, and shortcoming your work has.  She is meant to tweak it and polish it and poke at it until it can stand up on its own and gain attention.  DON’T YELL AT YOUR EDITOR.  THANK HER.

Yeah, Edits suck.  It means you have to change things that you think are perfect. Well, let me be the first to pop that pretty little bubble and tell you that THEY AREN’T.  If an editor flags it, it’s for a good reason.

There were quite a few times during my She-Wolf edits that I wanted to throw the computer across the room, and where I absolutely, 100% believed that she was wrong.  Of the dozen or so of those instances, I could only justify keeping one thing that she wanted to change, and that was because it was a dialect-based offense.  I explained my position, she said okay, and we moved on.  There were a few changes that I still disagree with… but when I got stuck, I asked for her advice and she gave it to me.  Ultimately I ended up rewriting a few paragraphs because I just didn’t like the redundancy of the suggestions, but in the end, it came out much better than it was at the start.  All in all, I would absolutely love to work with her again.

Editors, in all honesty, make us better writers.  They point out the things we don’t want to see, show us where we can improve, and work to make us as good as we can possibly be.  I don’t like being told that what I did wasn’t perfect, but I’m willing to accept the suggestions of someone who knows more about what I’m doing than I do.

And in all honesty, if you can survive edits, you can survive anything.

3. Critics

After getting past the editor, you get your book on the shelves (or e-shelves).  Congratulations.  Have a bottle of wine.  You deserve it.

Just be prepared, because for every dozen or so people that love you, there will be at least one that hates you.   Most critics are pretty professional.  I mean seriously, if you don’t like my work that’s perfectly okay.  It’s your opinion, and I respect that.

However.

Once in awhile, you will come across one that is childish and catty and mean for no reason.  Case in point –  I found a review of Marked by accident on some chick’s blog.  She absolutely tore the book apart…and what’s more, she went on to comment about how I was the worst writer she’d ever read and she hoped that no publisher would ever be stupid enough to give me another contract because I was writing drivel.

And that was making what she said nice.

So I did what I do best… I threw a fit.  On my blog.  And vented all sorts of frustrations.  By the next morning,  said blog post had vanished, which leads me to believe that one of the 12 hits it got that night was her.  I still can’t find it, but I think I got my point across… I made some very biting comments about how if you’re going to review someone’s work, you don’t have to be unnecessarily cruel.  There are ways of saying you don’t like something without being a heartless bitch about it.

A week or so later, I got a royalty statement, a payment, and a personal note from my publisher in which she told me that she has people asking for more of my work.  She gave me a huge boost when she suggested I join several networking spots and really promote, because she thinks I could be something.

My advice on dealing with critics:  You’re published.  Chances are, they aren’t.  If you ever have doubts about yourself, just look at your royalty statement.  If you’re selling copies, one opinion is a drop in the bucket that you needn’t concern yourself with at all.

Catching Up

Busy, busy, busy… Siobhan hasn’t stopped moving in days now!

Well, except for yesterday, when she was nearly dead to the world.  The being pregnant thing is not so much fun for her these days.

Ahem.

Morning, y’all.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been around here, and I have a lot to tell you.  So here goes, and let’s hope I don’t miss anything.

~+~

The After Dark Online Adult Community has been so kind as to accept a silly little thing from me, entitled Bathroom Stories.  It’s told from a little bit different point of view than most people are used to, but I am honored to be part of the project.  They are accepting Safe Sex stories in preparation for National AIDS Awareness Month.  If anyone feels so inclined, please take a look and join in.

~+~

The lovely Jean Joachim has posted this week’s Tuesday Tales.  There are some fantastic little stories up there from some wonderful authors.  Everyone should go read them right now.  I don’t have anything up this week, but I’m definitely going to try to jump in next week.

~+~

In addition to feeling totally rotten yesterday, I received a rejection letter from Harlequin.  *sigh*  I know they’re extremely busy, but I would like to know what I’m doing wrong there.  I’m not going to complain though… at least their form letter is a nice one.  I’ve seen some that aren’t very nice.

That just means that She-Wolf is up for grabs again.  I’ve got two options on my plate right this minute, and I’m trying to decide where I want to send it first.  Three options, actually.

On top of that, my phone died, and I kinda left Lexxx hanging on her first day back to work… And I feel so bad about that.  On Thursday, I’ll take the whip with me and allow her to take her revenge.

~+~

Backing up a little farther… Sunday night I was sitting at my desk when my phone started blinking.  There was an email, saying I’d received a payment from one of my publishers.  I honestly thought it was wrong… so as I pulled up my email to tell her I thought I’d received someone else’s payment by mistake, another email popped up… “Here’s your statement…congrats on this month’s sales!”

Needless to say, I just about fell out of the chair.  A first story – a short at that – has done extremely well.  I was also told that there are people asking for more of my stuff.  *gawp*  That… wow.  It was such a huge ego boost.  (Of course, the rejection letter the very next day put me firmly back on the ground.)

~+~

All in all, it wasn’t too bad a week.  I do wish I had more time to write, because my head is about to explode from all of the new ideas.  I’ve got two Halloween things in mind at the moment, the steampunk horror novel, and a full cast of characters, all of whom desperately want my undivided attention.  The lists and prioritizing don’t help… these people don’t seem to understand that they can’t all talk at once and still be heard.  *sigh*  I think they make drugs for this… don’t they?

Here We Go Again

It’s the Tuesday before FandomFest.  I’ve been excited all week.  And now… not so much.

I’m back on the self-doubt train again, and this time it seems that there isn’t any way off.  After finding a less than friendly review of Marked, I’m having a moment where I have to wonder exactly why I thought I could do this in the first place.  I keep telling myself that was just a trash story to give me a springboard, but even that isn’t as comforting as it used to be.

Some chick in her personal blog felt it necessary to absolutely rip my story apart.  As in could not be any more cruel if she came after my eyes with a rusty band saw.  I understand not liking something, but damn… why do you feel the need to absolutely cut someone to the core like that?  I get the whole wanting-to-be-a-book-critic thing, but for the love of all that’s holy, don’t be a complete shit about it!

So yeah, that hurt.

And has left me questioning my ability as a writer.  I love to write, but that doesn’t mean I’m any good at it.  Since high school (and the English teacher that was never happy with my work), I’ve heard this niggling voice in the back of my head telling me I’ll never make it.  That I’m not good enough.  That I should just give up and take on the menial 9-5 labor of the working class.

I know, I know…

Shut up, Siobhan.

But between my inability to focus on a single project and produce a coherent non-smut draft of something that would be wanted by anyone at all, the scathing (no, that’s not right… I think the phrase DOWNRIGHT BITCHY is more appropriate – which by the way makes me want to stab something) review, and the looming threat of having to actually talk about my work to other people, I’m almost paralyzed.

My friends keep telling me I’m good… and not that I don’t believe them, but I just have a hard time believing that at all about myself.  And of course I take my mother with a grain of salt because, well, she’s my mom, and she’s going to love me no matter what.

I guess I’m seeking some sort of validation… and I’m terrified that I’m not going to get it.  I know I need to get over this and keep going.  Intellectually, I know that.  Emotionally, not so much.  It’s hard to stay positive when after scouring the internet, the only review of your work you find is one that rips it to shreds, pisses on it, then lights it on fire to watch it slowly smolder while the critic stands back and smokes her extra-slim cigarette and laughs snobbily.

Gee, thanks, bitchy little girl.

Okay, okay… I know.  SHUT UP, SIOBHAN.

Getting there, I promise.  I really hope this is just the hormones talking.  And the nervousness.  However, I think that bit of evil has made my decision for me on what I’ll be reading Friday night.  Let’s just hope Kentucky gives me a better reception than bitch-head-of-the-year.

Me? Bitter? No…whatever would make you think that? 😉

 

Fear of Rejection

I used to have this horrible fear of rejection… that if I submitted anything I wrote, it would be read by others, judged, and then laughed at for being the worst drivel to ever be committed to a page.  I was always afraid that I wasn’t good enough; that I was wasting my time, and that my writing would never take me anywhere.  I say this because I had to face that fear yesterday.  I received my first rejection letter.

Yes, it hurt like hell.  Yes, I got mad.  Yes, I got upset and wanted to cry and scream and throw a tantrum.  Yes, I wanted to call the editor and yell at her and tell her she was a fool for not buying that story.

But I didn’t.

I had that moment of absolute panic – that knife-in-the-chest pain and the fear that I truly wasn’t ever going to be good enough to achieve my goals.  I got extremely upset and considered deleting the file containing every bit of writing I’ve ever done.  I almost reached the point, staring at that sad little form rejection letter, that I cried.

But I got over it.

Once I was able to think rationally again, I realized two things:  First, I am good enough.  I’ve been writing since I was able to hold a pencil.  I used to win awards in school.  I’ve got a contract on one of my stories. 

I CAN DO THIS. 

Second, I realized that the reason it was rejected is because the story isn’t finished.  I started looking at it again last night after I cleared my head, and the more I read, the more I realized that there were multiple loose ends that need to tie up.  Some of the story seems rushed, and parts of it were stilted. 

Once I got over the anger and frustration, I was sort of relieved that it wasn’t contracted because I would have gone back through edits and very likely hacked it to bits.  I’m not happy with the story as it is – don’t get me wrong, I love the idea and the charactersBut I know when I look at it now that it still needs a lot of work and has a long way to go before I can actually publish it.

I think that this story is one of the reasons why I’m so stuck on everything else.  It’s an incomplete project that I’m trying to rush, and I need to step back and take a long look at it before I try again.  At least I learned something from this… being rejected isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I look at it more as a warning that something isn’t right.  And if a publisher isn’t going to be happy with it, I certainly won’t.