Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Learning from a form rejection? August 29, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:05 am

Well, I did sub a first chapter and synopsis for the Medical Fast Track. They kept their promise- I had my reply in two days!

Not one I wanted to see though- a form R, no personal comments at all.

Anyway, I was due to do another post on the Sisters blog, so you can read more about what comes next over there!

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8 Responses to “Learning from a form rejection?”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    So sorry to hear about the R Jane, sending piles of cyber chocolate over right now…

  2. Lacey Devlin Says:

    Hugs again on your R Jane :). It is a fabulous post, I really enjoyed it.

  3. Minka's Tail Says:

    What did yours say (if you don’t mind me asking?) Mine said my characters and story weren’t developed enough and they gave me four hints:

    1. Make sure the story is character driven
    2. Make sure the conflict is internal (or something like that)
    3. Don’t let secondary characters take over
    4. Make sure you read all of our books to know what we’re looking for.

    Did you get the exact same letter? Was that a form letter, or do you think they really read it and think the secondary characters were taking over too much?

    My nom de plume hasn’t had her reply yet, and it’s been almost a week. Either they like it and they’re considering it (yeah, right) or she’s getting it tomorrow, or, as my mother suspects, they realize that we’re the same person and one’s enough.

    I’ll let you know. I have a feeling it will be the exact same letter though, with the exact same cookie-cutter hints.

    Cheer up and hang in there.

  4. Minka's Tail Says:

    Never mind my last post. I didn’t read the longer blog entry on sss. Yeah, it’s the same letter.

    I seriously doubt your writing was baaaad and not worthy of a form letter. My submission probably didn’t exactly fit their format, either, but I don’t think it was a piece of crap. I wonder how many genuinely well-written, enjoyable books are rejected because they don’t fit their formula, or what their market research says is selling? But rather than just tell you the formula, they convince you that your work is not good. Frankly, while some books they publish are good, others–not so much. But rather than say, sorry, we really want a doctor hero, they make it sound like you can’t write. And who is their market, little old ladies? Who would be put off by someone skinny dipping in 2010. I wouldn’t do it myself, but it hardly makes someone unsympathetic.

    I read a blog written by someone who was rejected by Harelequin (the blog is from ’06), and she called these writing contests, fast tracks, etc. a marketing ploy. Since every rejection ends with “buy more books, read the current books, not the library books, but give us your money and maybe you’ll be one of the 1% of authors we sign from unsolicited manuscripts” (the figures from her blog) I think she may be right.

  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    Form rejections don’t necessarily mean the writing was crap (though mine was!). It could be fab but not fit the line.

    I think if we get a form R we do need to look hard at what we submitted. Honestly, is it of publishable standard or can it be improved?

    If not, then it’s a great learning opportunity to reflect on each of those points in the letter and think how they apply to the story. I think I’m doing better for the writing career I want to have by taking the letter seriously and instead of getting defensive about what I wrote, really reflecting on how I can apply it. For example- your point about the skinny dipping- I don’t think anyone would be offended necessarily BUT I need to think about the line I was targetting. The promise of the Medical line is romance among dedicated medical staff. It wasn’t the skinny dipping that I saw as the issue so much as that the first time the reader saw her it could appear she is bunking off work! The skinny dipping will stay in the rewrite, but come a little later, when I’ve already shown she is a patient foucesed professional nurse.

    OTOH, if you truly believe what you subbed is as good as it’s possible to get it, then it’s a matter of research to find where is a more appropriate place to sub it next. It could be that your voice leans more towards single title or that en epublisher would love what you’ve written.

    Harlequin Mills & Boon are expert marketers. That’s why they are the world’s bestselling romance publishers. That’s why so many of us want to write for them. But they do buy new writers from these contests and off the slush pile too. It’s far from just being a marketing ploy. And we don’t need to buy to read more if we don’t want to- my local library stocks them free of charge! The issue is- if we aren’t enjoying reading them, why try writing for them?

    I’m sorry you had a form rejection on your submission. They do suck! But we can also hopefully take something positive forward from the experience (at the very least congratulate yourself on doing what plenty of would-be writers talk about but never do- submitting to a publisher!). The last two, I couldn’t. It just hurt too much. This one, for whatever reason, I can.

    Good luck with your other submission- hopefully the delay in feedback means it’s getting a personalised response!

  6. Maisey Says:

    Hey, Jane…you know I’m sorry about the R. 😦 But I know you can write! A form letter R is not necessarily about writing being crap, it’s really not. (And, I have heard tell there are letters shorter and less personal than the one you received that wish you luck placing your work elsewhere!)

    Of course it’s wise to read books from the genre your aiming for, and from the pub, as it gives you an idea of what the trends are. 😉 Helps to do research so that you know the line!

    I think you’ll find a home for your MS at Supers. Definitely think you have a great premise going! And you know I truly, TRULY believe in you!

  7. Rula Sinara Says:

    Hi Jane. I popped on over to Sassy Sisters and read your post. I’m so sorry about your FR, but you have such a wonderful attitude and you’ve analyzed your submission so well that I’m sure the rejections won’t last. Your drive to keep writing and to improve it is both evident and inspirational. Of course your shake sounded a lot healthier than the homemade doughnuts I indulged in after my R :).

  8. waitingforthecall Says:

    Home made doughnuts sound good, Rula! I lost 50 much needed pounds this year and I was blowed if I was going to let that R make me break my diet!

    It was a lot easier to be philosophical about this one as the sub was thrown together quickly for a line I’m not particularly set on targeting. I don’t know my attitude will be so good if I get an R on my Superromance submission.


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