23. the hopelessness of another rejection vs. the opportunity to improve our work

we've encountered our fair share of rejection. from ourselves, each other, critique groups, agents (we'll stop there)

all aspiring authors have their rejection stories. we're not unique in that (um, we hope). but each of our stories are unique ("our stories" meaning our manuscripts and our rejection stories, of course).

this is mine (erica's, that is).

I had a critique group who gave me valuable advice that I can only hope I followed. I had a beta reader who was totally awesome (shout out to you, JC!). I've sent out 12 agent queries and got 3 partial requests - including one from my very first query - and 3 no-responses (my last 3 - same query as those that got the requests) that I don't like to think about. But the 3 partial requests led me to get some good feedback. So, it's a lose-win situation, oddly enough. Lost the agent. Won a review. (blech)

Here's what a few said. Hope I fixed it. We'll see - I just submitted to 2 publishers and HOLY CRAP THE AMAZON BREAKTHROUGH NOVEL AWARDS WERE JUST ANNOUNCED!!!! (why did I just yell that? I don't know. I do love it, though, so there's that.) (click here for more info. but don't beat me and win - or, if you do, list me in acknowledgments at least).

Here are some of my rejection stories:
**cue cliches - rolled eyes, red face, butterflies in the tummy - the whole shebang**

While I thought the issues you were bringing up in this story are certainly great, I just didn't feel the voice of the story was as strong as I had hoped to convey these ideas.

Cool idea. I loved your opening line. But then I read further and realized that, the writing isn't ready for publication, it needs some editing.

Basically, your query doesn't feel that fresh/new/exciting. It's succinct and professional, but boils down to: girl likes boy. Boy likes girl. Mean girl comes between. It feels a bit recycled. Try to find a fresh new way to pitch it, or try injecting some more voice into it.

Yep, that's me. And my journey with AND (A New Day, a title I hate, but an acronym I love). See my query at this link.

Where has your journey taken you? How has it made you hopeless/hopeful???


  1. Wait, it's called A NEW Day? I thought it was A NUDE Day - so disappointed. Will still read it of course, but, damn!

  2. I've really only submitted to magazines so far, so I have a lovely collection of form rejection letters. One magazine started putting personal little notes on the bottom though, so I feel like that is a breakthrough for me!

  3. so far I have had 2 form rejections in my early writing days and I have to be honest if I were those editors I would use my picture as a dartboard.
    I have a partial request with an editor now so i feel I am just beginning my journy. I hope it all goes well for all of us and good luck to you too

  4. I haven't gotten to the query stage yet. TERRIFIED though. Thank you for sharing your journey! You will make it!!

  5. I loved reading this post. Not because you were rejected but because you are out there querying. You're doing great. Keep at it!

    This year I sent 12 queries and had 2 partials requested. One partial came back form rejected the other got this: I REALLY LOVED THIS PREMISE, BUT I DIDN'T CONNECT TO THE STORY.

    I really didn't know where to go from here. It actually didn't help me figure out what to edit. I had been debating changing the book to first person so I think I'll go that route. I'm more comfortable writing in first person. I find myself wondering how much of her feedback was just personal.

    Keep on it! You'll get there.

  6. I'm with Mike--If you change to A Nude Day, you're in... teehee

    Actually--I think 3 partial requests for 12 queries is damn commendable. It's so hard to tell someone how to work the 'voice' because I think voice comes just from having written A LOT. When I was first at this I read somewhere a million words is about where you hit your stride for voice.

  7. Mike and Hart - Can a YA book be called A Nude Day? I am looking for a new title (hehe).

    Megan and Colene - what I learned through querying is that even when you think you're ready to do it, you're still not ready. And my published friends tell me even after you get an agent, the ms still isn't ready. Then after you do your agent edits, it still isn't ready. You get editor edits and copy edits and others-I-don't-know-about-yet edits.

    Megan - I have a couple of those magazine ones. The little handwritten notes make me feel better, too.

    Joanna - I sent my partial out to an editor last night, too. Good luck to us both!

    Patricia - I did that once (change pov) - it is an incredible amount of work, almost like a complete rewrite. And yes, "I didn't connect" sounds more like personal preference - you're on the right track, though. Best of luck and if you're looking for another opinion, feel free to email me. I'd definitely look it over and see if I feel the 3rd person is working (disclaimer: all my writing has been in 1st, although I read both).

    Hart - Unlike you (hehe), I write small. I'd have to write 20 books to get to a million words!! But yeah, keep moving forward, right?

    Thanks, everyone!

  8. erica, you've now nailed voice. it's great! i, too, am impressed with your stats (#sent out/# partials requested). maybe we should hold a "name erica's novel contest" on our blog. hehe


  9. Um. I'm not querying yet but UNDOUBTEDLY there will be rejection at the end of it. I still need somebody to beta read it for me first ;)

    You're so right, it's good and bad when you get the feedback because it is a review after all!


    Oh, I've missed you guys. I WILL RETURN'TH! Now that November is over I gots more time! Yay!

    Also also! Hooray for the ABNA! I totes understand your capitalizationess! Eeeee!

  10. Yay! Mia's back! Curse Nano and their tendency to take our friends away. . .

    People. Seriously. Christy and I like to help out our friends. Email with any critique/beta requests. We're teachers, so we obviously love red pens (um, nope, we don't. but we are helpful.) In other words - you show me yours, I'll show you mine???!!!

  11. Erica, you are so brave for posting that for all of us to see! Those are great stats (as far as I know..I havent done the querying thing yet)!


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