Thursday, November 04, 2010

Turning the Tables

In the world of writing, one of the dreaded chores is submitting. Whether it's a simple query letter (or is that an oxymoron?), a proposal, a partial, or the exhilaration resulting from a request for a full manuscript, you're still left relying on the decision of someone else. And, odds are, given the percentages of acceptances in the business, you're going to have to deal with a dreaded rejection letter.

Right now, I'm waiting to hear from one publisher about a full manuscript submission, and from my agent about a new proposal. To avoid stressing, I'm also back to working on my 4th Blackthorne novel (although that's stress enough, since it's book number 3 that I'm waiting to hear about). I'm a little over 200 pages into it, and I'm still a non-plotter. Yesterday was one of those two steps forward, three steps back days. However, even though I'm writing 'on spec', with no guarantee of a sale, I find even a day of frustrating writing is better than a day of not writing at all.

As followers of the 'real life' portion of this blog might recall, we've been renovating and remodeling our house. Whereas the upper floor was a simple matter of swapping out existing materials, downstairs, we're converting a basement that's basically one large L-shaped room with a bathroom and laundry area into functional living space, including a tv room, an exercise area for those snowy days, and a dedicated guest room..



Since we lacked either the vision or expertise to tackle the design job, we hired an architect, who drew up plans. Next step: find someone who could translate the blueprints into actual rooms. With walls. Wiring. Plumbing.

We needed bids from contractors – which, to continue a writing analogy, would be the equivalent of requesting full manuscripts. We wanted three. One contractor never got back to us. The other two submitted bids that looked very similar at the bottom line.

After a few back-and-forths, we managed to get enough details from each contractor so that we were comparing apples to apples and could make what we hoped would be an intelligent, and "right" decision.

Now we're faced with what agents and editors must do on a daily basis—perhaps dozens of times. I'm talking rejection. Yep, because although Hubster and I agreed on which contractor we thought would do the better job, neither of us is particularly looking forward to having to call the other to say, "Sorry."

It's not easy to get the rejection letter, but maybe the agent or editor didn't find it easy to write it.

Tomorrow, we're not going far afield for our field trip – Hubster's sharing some of his critter pix. And while he's here at Terry's Place, I'll be over at the Author Expressions blog. Please add popping over there to your to do list for tomorrow.

13 comments:

Mary said...

I could never be an editor and reject someone's hard work. I won't even write a review for a book I really didn't like. (My middle name should be softy.)

Terry Odell said...

Mary - I don't even write reviews because I don't want to make people wonder why I review some and not others.

Susan Macatee said...

Mary, I feel the same way. If I don't like a book, I just keep my mouth shut about it. I could never give a one or even two star review. And Terry, I know for a fact my editor had a very hard time rejecting my latest novel, twice. I had to put it aside for a while and, although I'm now in the process of revising it yet again, I'm hoping I can follow her directions well enough so she doesn't have to reject it again. But it's hard sometimes to walk that balancing act to make the book better without losing your original vision of the story. But I'm also working on a couple of new projects at the same time. I never put all my eggs in one basket, which makes rejection that much easier to take. Currently I don't have any submissions out, but did get a contract for a short story I'd submitted just a week before.

Marti Verlander said...

Terry, I'm currently competing for an editorship at a new e-zine opening up, and so far nothing but rejections. The worst was the guy I had to reject three times! First for submitting before submissions opened. Second for querying a story of 140K words when our limit is 90K. He promptly resubmitted, claiming 60K, and when I asked how he did it, he said it was the first half of the story. So I had to reject because we don't accept partial or unfinished manuscripts! So he e-mailed the publisher, at two different e-mail addresses, with a long diatribe about how she wasn't treating him right!

There's pain in being rejected, but as you say, there's also pain in rejecting someone's work, although the type of pain can vary.

Sheila Deeth said...

I like reviewing more than I like submitting.

Mona Risk said...

I don't mind submitting to every editor on earth but I haven't developed a tough hide yet. When I receive a rejection I am devastated for days. On the other hand, I automatically review every book I read but I never submit my reviews entirely. Only the good part. My Dad who was a great professor always said: every work has something great hidden, look for it. That's what he did when he corrected papers or thesis.

Terry Odell said...

Susan - congrats on the contract!

Marti - you wonder what's so hard about following the rules. But there seem to be a fair number of people who seem to think rules aren't meant for them.

Sheila - the submitting isn't so bad--it's dealing with the response system that's painful!

Mona - I don't know that anyone can ever develop a hide thick enough to coast through this business.

Marie Beau said...

I've been on both sides and to tell you the truth it's much easier to receive a rejection that gives feedback than it is to write them. Because it's hard to find the positive sometimes.

Terry Odell said...

Marie - I agree. I'm not good at saying "no." And I've been with my crit partners so long, we tend to focus on the 'things to do better' because we know it's the problem areas that need to be corrected. When I judge contests, I have to remember the entrants aren't part of my crit group.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I've finally accepted that rejection is just part of the game. What doesn't kill me will make me stronger, right? I'm back in the hunt for an agent, so my first partial went in the mail after the Colorado Gold conference. Now I'm preparing the next round of queries...

Terry Odell said...

Patricia, if that's the case, we should all be world-class weight lifters!

Karen Cruz said...

It has to be tough to be on either end of the rejection road Terry. I know it can't be easy telling someone "NO" because it's almost like "you are not good enough". As well as being the person who gets rejected. Bruised egos come into effect then.

Terry Odell said...

Karen, I agree. "Yes, I love it" is always easier to deal with, on both the giving and receiving ends.