More on rejections cause it's Friday night

Dear Miss Snark,

(I was tempted to say, She who can't be surprised while touching her toes--after all you got me started on Jonathan Stroud.) (I'm not sure what that means but it sounds quite filthy ...is it?)

Anyway, on the day {No thanks means....?} and your comment area overflowed with the grief that rejection letters bring, I received my first full MS rejection.

My question is how much comment {if any} do you consider giving when turning down a full MS after requesting it--let's say it turned out to be one that after a couple of pages made you wonder how many gin-pails you‚d killed before you requested it. Do you have a stock letter with a one-line, slightly upscale version of "not right for me?" I'm thinking--hoping--that's what I got because my one line reason for finding my writing weak was the EXACT opposite of the advice and comments I've received about my story from readers and critique groups. Now I'm so confused I'm thinking about adding unfunny footnotes and increasing the word count to 357,982.03--maybe my hero could spend more time looking in a mirror too.

Warn killer Yapp that here in Florida we have a new invasive species taking over--a squirrel that's 3-4 times larger than normal and has really a nasty attitude. My dogs have started packing heat.

We're ok on the Florida thing...the idea that we'd leave the 212 leaves us both guffawing. Of course, I'm not exactly in the 212 when I write this, but yanno (tm/pp) we haven't left it psychologically. And we always pack heat....hatpins.

Now, to your question about rejections.

I go through cycles on rejections. For a while I'll write more than "you don't suck but this doesn't float my moat boat" and then some doofus will write back and tell me I'm a swill sucking swine kisser, and I'll go back to "thanks, but not right for me".

I do have standard language that I use for things that I thought I might like but didn't. When you get one of those, don't pay much attention to it. If I could get away with "no thanks" I'd do it, but even cold hearted reptilian Miss Snark can't do that after a partial. For any kind of accuracy from a statistical perspective, you'd need several rejections before you'd want to pay attention to anything. And you'd pay attention not to what is said but what isn't. If you aren't getting anything except our versions of "you don't suck" then you aren't coming close. If you're getting detailed comments, and an invite to revamp and resubmit, or just encouragement, then you're getting closer.

I've decided after the long run of comments on the rejection posts that there is no way to win, and lots of ways to alienate the snot out of people, so I'm sticking to "thanks for sending me your work and I'm just dang sorry I'm such a fool as not to like it, love KY". Printed on pink unicorn stationery of course, off center, and with a gin pail water ring stain. Just so you know you "might have been one that we liked alot but not enough".


kis said...

I don't understand, honestly, how anyone could be such a dunderhead as to send a snarky reply to an agent's honest feedback. (Unless that honest feedback said something like, "Go back to cleaning toilets, your writing sucks s**t straight out of a monkey's bare ass.")

I got a critique on a full, noting what the agent liked and how she thought I should change it. She invited me to resubmit, or to send her anything else I'd written. Rather than dwell on the negatives (she wanted changes I didn't think I could bring myself to make), I took encouragement from all the positive stuff she included.

Over the last little while, on advice from critique partners and after some serious thought, I've changed it enough that I may be able to finally resubmit it to her. Even if I don't, I'll always be grateful to her for taking the time to give an honest, personal opinion of my work.

Writers who get this kind of response should consider themselves lucky. Even if it isn't what you want to hear, all feedback is helpful.

MWT said...

If I were to somehow miraculously convince someone to read a full manuscript, and I wrote on the cover letter "I promise not to call you a swill sucking swine kisser," would that help get me some constructive feedback?

Anonymous said...

"...swill sucking swine kisser"...

One of my elderly neighbors (who's been neither writer nor agent in his lifetime) refers to this state-of-being often. He calls it "pig-lickin' drunk".

Old Pops sure has a way with words.

tlc said...

My rejection for my full arrived yesterday, and I think I much prefer it to the 'we hope yours was close' variety.

"... have now had a chance to read the material you sent, and I’m afraid it’s not something that I feel strongly enough to pursue. I think you are a great writer, and have a good feel for creating relatable characters. However, I ultimately didn't feel this had a big enough hook to stand out in a crowded romantic suspense market."

She went on with specifics which made it clear she'd actually read the whole thing, and what didn't work for her.

While it's still a 'no' -- I felt like it might be worth continuing to write and submit instead of taking up gator wrestling. "No thanks" on a query is fine, but personally, I have more respect for someone who can carve out the time to show they gave a full manuscript some thought.

pjminn said...

The "worst/best" rejection I ever got was my own material returned to me with NO THANKS stamped on it.
Nothing to read into there!

Peter L. Winkler said...

Well, it's been done already by Gerard Jones.


Laura(southernxyl) said...

"I’m afraid it’s not something that I feel strongly enough to pursue."

She's just not feeling it.

: )

Feisty said...

Oh, hell, I'll throw in my two cents.

It's all so subjective unless you truly suck as a writer. I've read some really sucky stuff that made me want to dunk my head in Miss Snark's gin pail.


Beyond that, there is good stuff, really good stuff, outstanding stuff, stuff that is very commercial, stuff that's great but is not commercial, stuff that nobody in the whole freaking publishing world wants to take a chance on no matter how good it is that goes on to be ground-breaking stuff, and then there's average stuff that is very commercial.

Don't give up on your stuff. And don't take it up to 300,000 words. Just keep trying.

And don't take what anyone says too seriously unless in your heart of hearts you know that they're right. And if they're right or as you grow as a writer you learn that they were right, then revise and resubmit. And don't be hasty. Art doesn't happen overnight.

Learn to wait. The average first novel can take eight or nine years to sell. Trust your instincts. Distrust your love of your own work. And keep trying.

Ray Goldensundrop said...

There's an odd thing about rejection. If a great white shark swims into a shoal of makeral and ignores one, the poor slighted fish might feel rejected. I've seen this in the business world and have heard it from one person who, as a child, was ignored by her murdering step daddy.

What was wrong with her?

Wasn't she good enough?

Yeah, well, maybe she was good enough. Too good, actually. Maybe even threatening, something so good as to disturb.

Just another perspective in a world full of makeral and sharks.

Lorra said...

Re Feisty's Comment:

That is the best advice -- not to mention the most encouraging words -- I have yet to read on Miss Snark's blog; and there have been, as we all know, some great post and comments.


koxpu said...

I'm only posting this because my verification word is "koxpu."

Couldn't do a better one if I tried.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

"aways carry a hat pin. you can stab them in the vitals."--Great Great Great Gramma on self protection against unwanted attentions, circa 1920.

Anonymous said...

It all comes down to subjective taste. Why one book in B&N appeals to you, and another doesn't. And no still means no.

I want an agent who loves my book so much, his enthusiasm is contagious. Not someone going through the paces just to appease a writer he happened to take on because he thought he could make a quick buck. And was wrong.

Agents can be wrong, too. Just because you get an agent, doesn't mean your book will sell immediately, or even at all. But it means you are closer than you were.

But if an agent is wrong and your book doesn't sell, whose fault is that?

In this business, I've learned to temper my disappointment, and not get my hopes up over every nuance. It doesn't pay, and my adrenals couldn't take it!

Anonymous said...

Serious question: When someone writes in the rejection, "there's much to like about your work," should I take that at face value or as her/him trying to be nice? :)

- CG

St. Wannabe said...

I don't know why, but this rejection line made me laugh:

"I have now read your query and unfortunately was not sufficiently ethusiastic about your synopsis to request further material. I wish you the very blah, blah, blah."

Grasping at straws said...

A few weeks ago I got "there is much to admire in your writing" and a couple of paragraphs later "again...there is much here to admire."

In fact, I'm thinking of using some of the lines in my recent rejections as blurbs.