Sunday, January 12, 2014

Interpreting Rejection Letters


Sometime back I did a post on Rejection Letters. This gained a bit of interest, and it is something writers need to know. So I thought I’d share with you in more detail about what I have learned about interpreting rejection letters.

Do you remember your first rejection letter? I do. Talk about shot into orbit. Oh, and staying there for some time. One has to land on their feet eventually and decide to coat their skin with tar and try again, again and again. I do hope what I have to say will help someone. It will also reinforce my mind as well.

My first rejection came after a publishing house requested my full manuscript. You can imagine how cloud nine played a very strong role in my life for a few weeks after that, until nerves set in and I thought, what if they don’t like it.

Three months later that little letter came in the mail...’Although we loved your plot, and characters we find that such and such is unbelievable’ I was shocked, I cried, read and re-read the letter. I think I allowed a day to pick myself up and get on with it. But at times it isn’t that easy. Every writer should know that this will be the first of many rejections. I have a folder full of them. Urgh!

1. The Standard Form letter

We have all heard of this one. This letter states that they are overwhelmed with submissions, or your work is not suitable for their publishing house. Meaning they don’t publish that type of work. Another reason is they have plenty of these types of submissions/Stories and are seeking perhaps contemporary not paranormal. Editors are busy people and are required to answer in this way.

 1. A Copy letter of the Form letter

I’m not sure which is the most severe, the form letter or the copy of the form letter. This rejection suggests that your work didn’t grab even an eyelash let alone an eye. This is the type of letter that goes out to a lot of people. I was one of the not too happy recipients a few years back. The main reason they stated is that they are inundated with submissions and can barely keep their head above water.

 2. The Polite Rejection Letter

This one usually says, ‘Although I liked your plot, your characters weren’t engaging enough. YAH! Well at least the plot is intact and they liked something about your manuscript. This is the first real step on that ladder. You are beginning to acquire some attention.

 3. The Rejection letter that asks for changes

When an editor suggests that you make changes to your baby with no offer to contract step cautiously. This happened to me; although the changes were minimal, later on down the track it was rejected. This letter suggests your manuscript has potential to sell. It may already have the potential to sell without the changes, so submit around. But if you feel the editor has a point, perhaps the changes are worthwhile.

 4. The Detailed Rejection Letter

This is one of the better rejection letters. The editor has read your manuscript instead of skimming through the first few pages, or chapters. If there are detailed comments on your setting, plot or characters make notes about what didn’t work for that particular publisher. This suggests that you are almost there, almost a yes.

Some argue that you should make the changes and re-send. I suggest that if they ask for the changes and resubmit, do so, but if they don’t ask for a resubmission don’t. Usually also they say, send a fresh partial, do not work on this manuscript. This entirely depends on the publishing house.

 5. The Full Detailed Rejection Letter

This one gives so much information that you are beaming from ear to ear. Usually it’s around a page perhaps two pages stating where you went wrong. There may be a request for change and resubmission or perhaps to start a fresh novel, where there won’t be as many changes. (you have learnt from this letter what not to do and what to do) This is the best rejection letter, this is where you should step forward and go with it finally putting your foot on that top step.

 If you have anything to add, please feel free to do so?

5 comments:

Kez said...

I think the most frustrating are the non-contact rejections - the websites that state if you haven't heard from us in x weeks, consider that a rejection.

You have absolutely nothing to go on with those - no way of knowing what they liked or didn't like, or even if they got around to reading it!

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I agree Kez. It's frustrating, and a little disheartening but rules are rules. :)
If that is the case with anyone's manuscript I'd send it out again preferably to someone who does offer a bit of feedback.

Suzanne Brandyn said...
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Suzanne Brandyn said...
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Suzanne Brandyn said...

Opps google had a hissy fit lol....