Friday, April 29, 2011

DEAR WRITERS (Especially those of you on sub) (And most especially those of you who’ve gotten rejections):

I just want you to know you’re not alone.

I know, I might sound like one of those kittens on a poster saying “Hang in there!” But trust me, I get it. I swear I feel your pain. I was once there too. Or maybe even twice…or even twenty times.

I remember obsessively refreshing my emails, and double and triple-checking my phone to make sure I hadn’t missed “the call”. I know what it’s like to swing between those manic highs (This is the day...I can smell an auction coming!) and those despondent lows (No one will want my book. It’s garbage. I might as well give up and become a bag lady.). I, too, wondered how time could have possibly slowed down to the point that I could actually HEAR the sun dragging across the sky…this phenomenon is known as “Submission Time” and it’s a whole new twist to the space-time continuum.

And the rejections. My god, the rejections! If only there was some consistency to them…am I right? If only they offered some tiny tidbit of information you could cling to, something useful you might be able to use so you could start thinking of revisions if, and when, this torturous round of submissions comes crashing to an untimely end. (Okay, people on submission are also prone to bouts of melodrama…just FYI.)

But they don’t. Your rejections are as varied as snowflakes, and sometimes just as cold.

One editor says “I just didn’t connect with voice,” which in your mind clearly translates to: “I hate you and wish you were dead.” The next explains that “I didn’t connect with the plot,” which obviously means: “I love crushing your hopes and dreams.”

And another just thanks your agent for the submission, saying “I loved it, but just didn’t love it enough” (Hello!!! Any chance a few revisions might change your mind????)

To show you what I mean, I’ve bravely dug out some of my rejections for THE BODY FINDER. (Remember when your parents told you this is gonna hurt me more than it’ll hurt you? Well, this might sting a little, and I’m not talking about you guys.)

Rejection #1:

Thanks so much for thinking of me for THE BODY FINDER. The premise is fantastic; I was excited to have a chance to review.

While I understand the appeal of this, I must admit I was disappointed by the character development. I wished the motivations and relationships were more compellingly drawn. For this reason, I feel I must pass.


Thanks again for sharing this with me, and best of luck finding the right home for it.


(Didn’t care for the characters and relationships. Check!)


Rejection #2:

I read this over the weekend -- it's such a great concept, but I'm afraid I'm going to pass. The prose didn't sparkle for me, and more than that, I was waiting for a huge plot twist I hoped the author was building up to -- and found that, for me, it never came.

I'm not much of a CSI person, and it could be I just don't have the right eye for this kind of thing. I so appreciate the opportunity to consider it, though, and wish you the best of luck! I'll be curious to see where it lands.


(Didn’t care for plot. Got it.)


Rejection #3:

I took THE BODY FINDER home over the weekend and can definitely see the potential here. Kimberly has a great concept and her protagonist is the kind of girl a reader can really get behind and connect with. Unfortunately, I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t as charmed by her writing. One of my pet peeves is repeated words and phrases throughout a manuscript, and on the first page alone she used the word “sound” eight times. It’s just one of those things that jumps out at me as a red flag.

Thanks for thinking of me with this, though.


(Ahahahaha! I counted, there were six “sounds,” not eight, in the first draft. But touché, dear editor. Touché! And check it out, she liked the character…remember Rejection #1?)


Okay, so you get my (painfully delivered) point, right? You see how subjective this business is? How different all the rejections were? Do you understand that it’s all about finding the right editor with the right manuscript at the right time???

I’m telling you, my fellow writers, don’t be discouraged, and don’t give up. Just…don’t!

And if you need an example of true perseverance, check out this post about author Kate DiCamillo. 397 rejections! Dude.

30 comments:

Cheryl Renee Herbsman said...

Thanks for this great reminder, Kim :D

Lee Bross said...

OMG I am so glad you got "those" rejections too. Well, erm, not glad you were rejected per say, but that ITS NOT JUST ME.

You give everyone hope Kim!!! (I mean really, look how awesome The Body Finder is, right!) :)

Rebecca B said...

Thank you 1,000 times for this post.

kathleen duey said...

The rejections never stop....because people's reading tastes vary so wildly and editors are...people!! And they have to face a table full of other people and convince them all that the book they are in love with has a real shot in the marketplace. It's maddening, I know, but any feedback from an editor is a compliment and a gift...and maybe something to be considered.

Gina said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. It just goes to show how subjective opinions really are. I work at a company where I have an account with Harper Collins, and I just ordered a copy of The Body Finder. And guess what? It's on backorder. So obviously there are plenty of people out there who disagree with these assessments, because they couldn't even keep it in stock to fill my order!

Amanda said...

This is a great post! And it's sooooo true. I went through the exact same thing while I was on sub. And it sounds cliche, but it really does only take one yes.

I've always wondered how time manages to slow while you're on sub. But it does. Being on sub is a special kind of hell. ;)

Marsha Sigman said...

We are on the same wave length today. Such a great reminder to never give up!

Marquita Hockaday said...

Thanks so much for sharing this with us. It's comforting, yet frustrating to see that you and THE BODY FINDER struggled to find a home, too. Overall reading this is very encouraging, it'll keep us struggling writers in the fight.

tammara said...

Thank you Kimberly. We all very much appreciate this. :)

Jessi E. (The Elliott Review) said...

Thanks for posting this!!!

Lucy Woodhull said...

I'm out on sub now, so this piece's timing couldn't be more perfect. I'm so glad you had a happy ending. I think it takes real courage to submit a manuscript, especially when one is sober. :)

jmartinlibrary said...

OMGOODNESS!

You can't know how helpful and meaningful this post is to agented but not yet pubbed writers!

Thank you SO much.

Susan Oloier said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been in that position a few times: give up and become...never thought of a bag lady, but ya never know.

Jessica said...

Seeing a similarity in rejections here. Mine and yours! Although with mine, it's really impersonal. They don't say why my book didn't "wow" them. Just thanks, but no thanks.

Oh well. I'm still going!

Stephsco said...

Thank you for sharing. I definitely understand more about the subjective nature of this business since I've been more focused in my reading over the past few months, and from a writer's group. There are some books and submissions I read that are good, but not my taste. So, I can imagine with all the time and effort repping a book involves, the agent would have to be sold on the concept and writing to commit.

It leaves the rest of us feeling vulnerable! But I suppose that's why we need preserverence.

Gracie said...

This was perfect. Both funny and enlightening! Just what I needed. :)

Bethany Neal said...

I feel like you're inside my head a little bit with this post because I am on sub, and I obsessively refresh my email and am constantly on the verge of tears/manic giggles.

Thank you so much for sharing the, er, anticipation(?) surrounding the submission process. Good to know everyone goes through this!

Jamie Fox said...

Great post and I think that's so true! It's like anything in life really. Sometimes it just takes the right person and the right moment to make something work. Even when we are reading for fun we still have those stories and writers that just speak to us, and also those that don't. So it makes sense that a publisher wouldn't be any different. Thanks for the boost!

Kimberly Derting said...

Gina - YAY for backordered books! I hope you like it (when you get it)!!!

Amanda - EXACTLY! And that one yes will be the RIGHT yes.

Marsha - Ahaha! I went over and peeked at your post...I loved all the old pics of superstars!

Lucy and Bethany - GOOD LUCK!!!

Ashlie Swainston said...

This is a great post for writers-to-be to see just HOW subjective publishing is. Look at how many books are honestly horrible in so many ways that slip through the cracks. All it takes is the "right" (also subjective :) person to see the potential. Congrats to you Kim for finding your home with your books, thank you for writing and continuing to query, despite rejections and for giving all an example of the light at the end of the tunnel!

storyqueen said...

This is a great post. Thank you for being so honest and brave and sharing them all.

(I've got my share of these as well...)

Shelley

Julia said...

Oh, I know I'm going to have difficulty expressing how much this post means to me. I'm on sub right now and am in a constant state of needing to ralph all over my shoes. When I was querying, rejections didn't frighten me one ounce. But now I feel like if I'm rejected, I won't just be letting myself down; I'll be letting my agent down too. I feel like such a failure, and dammit, it's been a week since we went on sub. A WEEK. I haven't even failed yet!

The Body Finder is one of me and my agent's favorite books. If even a book as fantastic as yours has to go through the ringer, maybe there's hope for me too. Thank you for this post. It doesn't help the time inertia, but it eases the panic a bit.

melissa said...

Thank you for sharing and congratulations on your success!

andimjulie said...

I love this post, it makes my heart smile. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

And to think The Body Finder became a best seller. Sweet!

Janet Johnson said...

You are so brave to share those! They hurt ME, and I didn't even write the book! (obviously).

Thanks for the encouragement. :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

I can't tell you how great it is to read this. Thank you, Kimberly <3

S.J.Kincaid said...

Awesome post! And now you're a bestseller. Goes to show that everything is subjective in publishing, doesn't it?

Wordy Bird said...

Great post, Kimberly, and thanks for linking to my rejection post!

Caryn Caldwell said...

This was wonderful, and just what I needed! Thanks for being brave enough to post it.