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Rejection and how to handle it

(49 Posts)
blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 10:18:12

I've written a novel, finally, which I don't think I am capable of improving significantly (having had a few false starts over the past months and years). I am working on something different, but I don't think I can find it in me to write better.
So far I've had three or four rejections, the last one was very blunt and simply said 'not strong enough.' Where do I go now? Is it worth paying for an editorial opinion? I've had informal opinions and suggestions already, and I shouldn't really spare money for this.
The book is still out with a couple of agents but I am not holding out much hope. It does seem as if I should finally accept that I am not cut out to be a writer - few are, I know. That's what 'not strong enough' is saying, in effect, isn't it?

belledechocchipcookie Sat 06-Aug-11 11:13:05

I paid for editorial advice for my novel, it wasn't incredibly helpful but it did point out what I needed to do to improve it. It's difficult for a writer to see where their mistakes are. Did you send it out straight away after finishing it or let it rest first? I've found a critique partner, she's fantastic. Agents are very difficult for new writers to find, they don't have the time to help them to improve their work because they see it as a financial risk for them, there's no guarantee of a return (economy). I've been recommended critique sites, such as AbsoluteWrite.

Keep at it though, getting published is about perserverance. smile

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 11:33:39

I let it rest - it also went through about ten drafts and had feedback from a range of friends and acquaintances. It's as good as I can possibly get it without having a personality transplant.
The other rejections have been encouraging but this one floored me, says the market's dire, competition's strong, and basically it's just not good enough. I agree that perserverance is important, but so is knowing your limitations.

belledechocchipcookie Sat 06-Aug-11 11:46:02

I don't ask friends unless I know that they are ruthless. Friends won't always tell you what you need to hear because they don't want to upset you. The agent was right, the market's dire and competition is strong, it doesn't necessarily meand that your novel is shit though, it's just one person's opinion and it sounds like a standard rejection to be honest; this agent will say the same to every writer that submits. Keep at it, JK Rowling was rejected by 13 publishers before she found Bloomsbury. Look at your writing, do you repeat your words? (I'm a sod for starting sentences with the same word 'he'). If you want to go down the paid for editorial advice route then I can recommend someone. I'd go down the other routes first though as it's not cheap. Three rejections is nothing, there's far more agents out there. When you've been rejected by 15/20, then this is time to have a rethink about how you write.

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 11:53:11

thanks for the encouragement! I'll wait a bit longer smile
I chose the people who read it for their frankness, i didn't know all of them in person. The 'blunt' agent actually came through a friend which is why it's double ouch! The random off-the-web ones were actually more positive.

belledechocchipcookie Sat 06-Aug-11 12:00:06

I was told that mine 'didn't have enough sparkle' for her, this was after I'd paid to get some help with it. It was a rewrite, she said nothing positive, just that she had been looking forward to reading it and was disappointed. hmm It is upsetting, it's just one person's view. I looked at it again and found someone else to read through it for me. She gave me really helpful feedback and it's now sitting in a different agents inbox.

Wait, then send it out to more agents. Some don't have the time to read it which is understandable but annoying. A rejection doesn't necessarily mean that your writing needs work. Do try absolute write though. smile Keep at it, especially as you've received positive feedback.

Columbia999 Sat 06-Aug-11 12:04:06

Some good advice here

ImperialBlether Sat 06-Aug-11 13:03:19

Blackcoffee, is your plot good enough? Did they mention that? Is there something you could do with it, a twist or change of point of view?

In what way do you think the writing isn't good enough? Were your friends critical enough?

Do you intend to write another now or to do something with what you have? I think the first book is a bit like the first pancake - you love making it but it just isn't right and has to be thrown away. The second pancake is the one you want to eat!

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 14:23:11

thanks columbia I think I'll take up the first suggestion in that piece - get drunk!
IB if it was my first novel I wouldn't be worried. I've been at this for a while, and while the rejections have become more complimentary, with some requests for further chapters, a simple 'not strong enough' floored me!
Nothing specific was mentioned that I could work on. The last one I wrote had a dud plot. Friends told me, agents told me, and I agree. But, like I said, I am as happy with this one as I'm gonna get!
Am now four chapters into a slow burn novel which is steadily taking shape. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy writing (or at least I can't stop) but part of it for me is about story telling, and part of the buzz of that is pleasing the reader, so unless I can do that I feel frustrated. It's like reading to children, that feeling when they are spellbound for what happens next - want to write that way.

ImperialBlether Sat 06-Aug-11 16:06:40

It's just so unhelpful to be told it's not strong enough, without being told whether it's the plot, the characters, the dialogue, etc that's to blame. Even if it was all of it, that would be something as you could tackle them one at a time.

Are you giving up on that book now?

Do you want to say what this new novel's about, or are you worried you'll jinx it?

One thing - you said you'd written ten drafts. Why was that? Do you feel you lose something with so many drafts - a kind of freshness that's there with fewer drafts?

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 16:18:21

it took in the region of ten drafts before I was happy, and some of them included revisions in the light of feedback I'd had from readers. I don't think this amount of editing is unusual? it's more than I've done in the past but I'm getting better as it and less precious about words on the page
I'm not giving up on the book exactly, I'm personally really pleased with it, I just don't think I can make it 'stronger' confused. I'll send it out a few more times I guess and then stash it in a drawer!
current one is about adults with a past in care

grumpypants Sat 06-Aug-11 16:24:59

I found that I really focussed on the one or two words that came back with personalised rejections - i'm really surprised that you have had lots of positive ones - I had two personalised responses from 8 agents, and six std thanks, but we are full/ not taking on etc. So maybe you should be pleased people have bothered to write something to you about your book?

I have become obsessed by the adult thought processes my character was described as having - not helped by this not being mentioned at all in the report i subsequently paid for!

ImperialBlether Sat 06-Aug-11 16:25:29

I didn't mean to be critical.

I was doing an MA in Creative Writing and wrote the first chapter of a novel. We kept having to give things in for group assessment and I worked so hard on that chapter. When the course finished I sat down and wrote the rest of the book in one go (a month.) Obviously I edited it, but I didn't rewrite anything as such - the plot and characters didn't change etc.

I was much happier with the rest of the book than I was with that initial chapter.

grumpypants Sat 06-Aug-11 16:25:54

Meant to say; the usefulness of the report was clarification of target market; pointing out of contradictory events/ happenings but the opinion was really one person's as it can only be.

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 16:30:52

why are you surprised about the feedback?
your report experience is partly what worries me about paying for one - there is no magic formula, is there! did you find it helpful otherwise?

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 16:33:06

oh i know, IB, not taken as such! a novel in a month! respect!
and xposted gp, yes, it's subjective - exactly

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 16:36:37

you know I think I'd rather have had a 'we're full' standard letter
'not strong enough' without giving an indication of why is a real downer
like IB says, 'the plot stinks' or similar would at least have been useful!

ImperialBlether Sat 06-Aug-11 16:45:36

However, the last one I wrote had ten rejections from publishers (sent out by an agent) and each one had very positive things to say, but ultimately they didn't want it. In the end that has to be because it's not strong enough.

The agent said that usually rejections from the publisher are just "No, thanks" and it was unusual to get more detailed ones - she said that was a sign they had actually liked it.

In the end, we're competing with all the bloody soap stars and WAGs - Asda and Tesco sell the most (I think the Tesco buyer is one of the most important in the publishing world - I know she's not an agent or a publisher, but she decides what will sell) and it's hard to compete with someone like Jordan or with someone who has a past record.

It doesn't stop us writing, though!

ImperialBlether Sat 06-Aug-11 16:53:29

Mind you, if I were in that job, my comment would always be "That would never happen!" Drives me mad when I'm reading a book and the plot is just ridiculous.

Just been reading a book (can't even remember the name, now) where a woman goes missing and her husband pretends she's committed suicide in Spain. In the end someone says "What about the death certificate?" and the answer was "Oh his brother got that back in England. You can always do that sort of thing if you know the right people."

That, to me, was the most stupid thing I'd read!

GhoulLasher Sat 06-Aug-11 16:56:43

OP I would be more than happy to read the beginning for you. I'm a writer and an editor...not novels but scripts and editorial. The first ten pages would be enough and I don't mind giving you feedback/advice.

If you want to, just PM me...I'm having a shitty day and the distraction would be welcome. smile

ImperialBlether Sat 06-Aug-11 17:05:15

I'd like to read it too!

grumpypants Sat 06-Aug-11 17:35:06

Think IB answered my 'surprise' - thought most novices just got std letters, so any indication they'd put thought into the replies was good.

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 17:54:59

I don't know what to say GL and IB, except thanks so very much! Lifesaver. Very very kind indeed. Will PM!
gp I see now. Well I did get the standard rejections all the time when I sent off my first one blush I've been doing this a while, which is why I'm trying to understand if I should call it a day, go back to the housework etc grin

grumpypants Sat 06-Aug-11 18:00:47

it's weird isn't it? i'm really worried about jinxing the book, or having ideas used so I am really wary of getting friends (particularly my London friend with lots of writer friends) to read my stuff, but then it's hard to get feedback.
i hate the whole sending off thing - when an agent asked to read the rest i nearly didn't send it - almost like that request was the best it would get, and i'd rather think what if!

blackcoffee Sat 06-Aug-11 18:09:20

know what you mean gp! travelling hopefully and all that
i got quite blase about sending out stuff at one point but the nerves have come back with a vengeance.

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