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Rejection, rejection, rejectionAnd did I mention more rejections?


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#1 KrystenH

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:35 AM

I really need some encouragement and my critiquing partner really recommend this site.

You see, I have forty (!) rejections. Actual rejections where the agents have sent something back to me. I have only gotten one partial. NONE of the rejections have been helpful, all have been form, even the partial.

I am starting to lose hope. I don't want to shelve it, because I have done a lot of work on it and still doing a lot of work on it. I know it has potential; it's original, it's fresh, and the protagonist is a little runt who will still kick your arse. ( I know, I know, every writer says this, but even the cruelest, harshest grammar fiends have conceded these points to me).

But! My MC isn't human. Or vampire. Or werewolf. Or an Angel. Or a demon hunter. Or a witch. She's a dragon-human hybrid.

Yeah, I am starting to think that might be my problem. Dragons are unsellable. I should point out that my story is NOT anything like Eragon or Dragonriders of Pern or Dragonlance. Though, I am quite sure I will be compared to them right off the bat.

Regardless if I send out samples, I get rejected. I have cleaned up the first five pages, and I still am getting rejected. This is why I am starting that there is something inherently in the story that is scaring them off. Yet, when people actually read the story, they absolutely love it! (when they can get past the grammar).

I am freaking out. I don't want to shelve this project, because I feel it will never come back down. The last thing I want is this to become a trunk novel. Yet, I have been tempted to write a paint-by-numbers YA paranormal romance because that seems like that is what everyone wants. But I don't REALLY want to do that. I want my dragon-loving Epic Fantasy series that I worked seven years on in bookstores, not some story I don't have a lot of heart in. I would still feel like a failure to me.

I don't know. Would anyone read an epic fantasy about dragon hybrids tranversing their world trying to save it and their people from enslavement? Would any read a story about a headstrong, snarky, yet psychotic protagonist? A rotting, decaying Sorcerer antagonist? Any encouragement would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 Caterina

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:51 AM

I think you should never give up when you believe in your story, just start looking at other options - such as self publishing. I'm going that route because I didn't want to do the agent dance of death, and it's been working pretty well so far (haven't published anything yet, but i like being in control of where I going with it).

Don't give up! There are people I know who have gotten over 100+ rejection letters.

#3 Nichole

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:55 AM

Hi Carakasla,
While I can't offer you the best advise (mainly because I'm basically in the same boat as you) I suggest you check out this blog, if nothing else than just for a writing pick-me-up. http://sandracox.blo...ette-marie.html Best of luck, don't lose faith in yourself and your writing!

#4 KrystenH

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 01:14 AM

Thanks :biggrin:

I don't want to go the self publishing route mainly because I cannot do the business part of it. Maybe with a story I dont have a vested interest in, but I would rather shelf my dragons before I self-published them (I'm not being snobbish. Everyone has THAT book. The book they demand nothing but the best for. The Shadows Series is THAT novel/series for me.) I really don't think self-publishing is for me.

It's hard, but I am trying not to lose faith. It's hard when you think the problem is something like no one wants dragons :sad:
Shadow's Dawn (EF) -- Querying/ Editing

Morning Darkness (EF) -- WIP

Evening Light and untitled fourth book (EF) -- Outlining/Planning

#5 RC Lewis

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 01:22 AM

When you're not getting any nibbles (or only one out of 40), there's a high likelihood that the query letter needs to be adjusted. (And I've just commented on yours over in the Query Critique forum. Please note the "Tearing Apart Queries ... With Love" under my avatar. :blush: )

That said, shelving a novel doesn't mean you're giving up on it--it can mean you recognize that particular ms isn't ready, or the time isn't right, or it would make a better second novel than a debut, etc. I don't think of my older mss as being shelved or trunked ... I say that they're "in my pocket." I've got them there, so if I can snag an agent with the right ms at the right time, the other stories are ready and waiting. I haven't given up on them, and I'm glad I didn't jump straight to self-publishing them. In working on new novels, I've learned and grown a ton, and I've applied that to making revisions on the earlier mss. My first ms wasn't *terrible* when I queried it, but I have no doubt it's WAY better now.

Regardless, 40 rejections isn't enough to set this one aside just yet. Work the query. Also, your comment of "when they can get past the grammar" worries me a little. If there are pervasive grammar problems throughout, the best query in the world will get you a lot of requests that end in more polite rejections. Make sure the *entire* ms is polished and ready to go out the door.
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#6 KrystenH

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 01:46 AM

I am working on the grammar with a critiquing partner and I actually realized my grammar wasn't atrocious, it was mainly little things (like too many adjectives and adverbs when I really didn't need them because I wasnt confident with my character's voices) which are in the process of being fixed. My novel is kind of big :tongue:

It was just a situation where I ran into grammar fiend after grammar fiend who were being overly dramatic for what ever reason. :humph:
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Evening Light and untitled fourth book (EF) -- Outlining/Planning

#7 Whimsical_Werecat

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 05:17 AM

Never give up, Caraksala! It's a jounrey that many of us are taking at the moment, and we have all experienced the challenging ruts that come with trekking this kind of trail. As RC suggested, keep working on your query and polishing your novel. I finished my first novel years ago, and I am still polishing it! But it's a good thing to know (and remind yourself of) that the more you put into it, the better you know it's getting. :happy:

#8 Joey

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 10:53 AM

Look at it like this, right now you're revising. The revision process is your bff if you allow it to be that. And that's how I'm trying to approach it with my m.s.

If there are grammatical errors, address them immediately and go through chapters with fine-toothed comb.

One of the best tips I received was from my sister (an amazing writer) who told me to read each chapter aloud as you proofread. That way you pick up errors in syntax and flow as well as pick up the other issues. But flow or lack thereof is a huge huge problem and it has to all feel so very natural.

A very wise agent wrote this entry on her blog last week and it sings the praises of reading aloud. Try it and see if it helps!

http://lindapepstein...-aloud-to-edit/

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#9 TBruce

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:20 AM

Well, as someone who received 60 rejections before her first request for a partial (and one partial request is all I've gotten to date) I feel eminently qualified to chime in. :biggrin: Plus, I'm in the same boat. Everyone who reads the story loves it, everyone who reads the description of the story hates it (the story, that is, based on the description) (or, at least, isn't interested in it) (despite the fact the latest version of the query got the two thumbs up seal of approval from AQCers on the critique thread).

1. I second what RC says about making sure your manuscript is really polished - too many adjectives and adverbs actually CAN be a big problem (says someone who's been there). It makes the story very clunky and flat. It's usually also a symptom of too much telling, not enough showing, which also makes the story really flat to read. I always recommend having several critique partners because everyone focuses on different things/has different strengths and weaknesses and you get a much more well-rounded view of your work. You also say your story is really big - which sounds like "long". Is the word count also something that might be scaring off agents/publishers?

2. Once manuscript is totally polished, double check query letter (says someone who has gone through 15 different versions of her query letter) is doing its job (sounds like you've got it up on the critique thread here which is a good place to start).

3. Double check you are sending to the right agents. It took me a while to learn the secret code language of agent likes and dislikes and to figure out what genre my story really was. Looking back, I can see a lot of my rejections have come from agents that just weren't a match.

4. Possibly rethink "the best or nothing at all." I was in the same boat - part of me still is. This is my second completed novel and I feel that it is very commercial, should be a "big hit"/have mass appeal, etc. I have resisted the idea of self-publishing this one. Then I had a heart to heart with myself - a story is meant to be read. How is putting "my baby" in a drawer because I didn't get my first choice doing right by her? How does it benefit anyone - readers who might enjoy the story, the story itself, my career, etc. It doesn't. So the weekend before last I took the first step toward self-publishing - I contacted an editor. Then a week ago Monday I got my first request for a partial from a small press and found out I'm still under consideration at another small press and that sort of changed things a bit, but still, I've got that option in my pocket. I'm also in the same boat (gee, I could have written your post!) that I seriously doubt my ability to handle the business side and the marketing of self-publishing. But the truth is, even traditionally pubbed, we have to do the marketing, so that doesn't really get us off the hook. Not trying to talk you into or out of anything, only you know what is right for you. But just advising you to make sure you've looked at everything from all angles. If you have, then the decision of whether or not to "trunk it" should be very easy.

5. Last, but not least, as someone who has written an adult non-romance, non-vampire, non-werewolf, non-zombie, non-epic paranormal fantasy (the afterlife/ghosts), sometimes there is nothing we can do. As RC says, it's just the wrong damn time and no one is buying what we're selling. So maybe don't stop querying, but slow down, or take a break and try again in six months. The market will have changed then and you can test the waters and see if there's more reception to your story. And if it's still no, try six months after that.

Some people say never give up - just when I was on the verge of giving up, I got my first request for a partial (which might still get rejected but at least it made me feel I wasn't 100% garbage) - but it's hard to keep going when you feel like you're just getting kicked (trust me, I know). It is also a sucky place to be when you feel like you're giving up on something you worked so hard for. My book is the first in a series, I'm halfway done book 2 now. To stop and switch to something completely different would be very hard and would depress me so much I'd probably stop writing. I've invested a lot in these characters and the world I created (book 1 took 2 years to write, book 2 has taken 9 months so far to get halfway). So I have to decide what's really important to me if it turns out no one wants to publish this - that investment in this book (in which case, I should self publish) or the validation of being traditionally published (which means I should "trunk it" and write something else).

Okay, sorry this is so long - sorry! But I've been there (hell, I'm still there!) and hope that somewhere in here there's something that helps.

Just know you aren't alone and when the going gets tough, there's lots of people on AQC to help pick you back up, pour some courage into your veins, and put you on the path again. :wink:

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#10 KrystenH

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 02:03 PM

Thanks Terri :smile:

Yeah, I am going through with a fine toothed combo with my critiquing partner. They know WAY better than I do which words to take out and which ones to leave in (though, I am learning). My novel is hovering around 107k, which for the genre, isn't half bad. It started out that way and has remained that way almost all through editing.

I have debated putting up the first five pages, but I have the problem that I am a 'slow beginning-firecracker end' kind of writer. I really think the beginning works for the story, so I don't know how putting up the first five pages will help. I mean, even when I send samples, I don't get anything!

I might out off querying for a little bit. Work on the manuscript (and the sequel which has been horribly neglected) and work on that pesky query letter. And maybe the synopsis. :wacko:
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#11 SC_Author

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:58 PM

YOU JOINED! Great job, I'm so happy to see you here! How do you like it so far?
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#12 KrystenH

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:16 PM

Yes! I joined!

I love it so far. I am getting some great query help and everyone is so nice. Between here and Querytracker, I'll be the query writing queen!

...or not.
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#13 TBruce

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 02:57 PM

LOL Cara, to query-queendom! I just got feedback from an agent today on my query that basically said even if I fixed the problem with the query there's no market for my book due to the ages of the characters. So, like I said, sometimes it's just out of our hands. :wacko:

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#14 M. Arthur Stone

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:01 PM

Cara,

40 rejections?
(smack!)

That was me (gently) slapping you. The only writers who don't get that many rejections before they start getting requests are those who have best sellers on the shelf and are looking for new representation. For the rest of us soon-to-be bestsellers...we got to go through the motions and the travel our own rite of passage.

I now have an agent. Before that, I had sent about 150 queries. The first 75 were all met with rejection or silence. After each batch of queries (10-15 every couple weeks) netted no requests, I went back and reworked the query with the help of my AQ freinds, then sent another batch out. And so on and so on. In other words, keep tweaking the query between batches.

In my case...I got an agent on query #147. Guess how many other agents had requested partials or fulls before my agent came along? I'll wait...go ahead, guess.

(Jeopardy theme plays)

Nope. Guess again.

(music continues)

Nope. Guess again.

(music ends)

The answer is 3 fulls and 5 partials. Thats' it! And they were few and far between.

The point is, if the query doens't net a request, the query isn't working...rework the query until it works. But don't think that a good query nets dozens of requests...it doesn't. Not even the greatest queries. Not that I've ever heard. So don't give up. (Or I'll have to smack you again)

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#15 Jamber

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 04:21 PM

Hi Carakasla--writing, like old age, is not for sissies. I say that with love and encouragement, because I am probably the biggest sissy of them all. If you're a writer and must write, then make it about the work (it's always about the work, even when it doesn't seem to be), and get out the best damn query and synopsis that you can. I personally love the idea of a dragon hybrid race, would read it like a shot. But it's as others have said, the manuscript itself must measure up to a request for a full, so make sure your grammar/punctuation/formatting isn't something an agent even notices as being an issue.

I posted a list of great writers who were rejected, together with comments that would make me head for the hills if they were addressed to me--I think it's in the Post your Rejections forum; a good place to commiserate and share your own disappointments. We all have them. I think they're kind of a rite of passage, a gauntlet of sorts that we have to test our mettle on. M. Arthur Stone kept going after #100--that's incredible, and look where s/he is now! I also agree with what RC Lewis said. Keep writing. It's a muscle that gets better and more beautiful with time and practise--if it tests your commitment, give it a workout.




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