Thursday, 26 September 2013

Ready to Lash Out? Don't!

Cathy, who writes from Edinburgh, is more than a bit fed up with receiving form rejections. She says: I spend a fortune on postage following agents’ guidelines to the letter. So many of them still insist on paper submissions. God knows why in this day and age, but they do. Not that they reply by post. Oh no, if they reply at all, it’s usually via a form email! I often feel like sending an email in return asking for some feedback in exchange for what it’s cost me to send my work to them, but I manage to stop myself because I know it won’t do me any good. However, just recently I’m finding it really hard to keep my emotions in check. Bloody agents seem to have everything their own way. Most of them don’t even have the decency to tell us why they don’t want the work on offer. I bet some of them don’t even read half the stuff they receive. Sometimes I just want to lash out and tell those agents how bloody rude they are. I bet they wouldn’t like to be treated as they treat writers. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. Loads of my writing friends say the same.

Dealing with rejection is hard. But it is part and parcel of being a writer. I doubt there is a published author anywhere on the planet who hasn’t had work rejected at some point in his or her career. A certain Mr S. King, who is one of the most successful novelists of our age, claims he was once able to paper a room with his rejection slips. So, when you receive a ‘no thank you’ slip, you’re in good company.

It’s what you do after rejection that is important for your future career. If your manuscript comes back with a form letter saying it isn’t right for a list, you need to look critically at how and why you chose that publisher or agent in the first place. If your subject matter isn’t suitable, then you've wasted their time, and a fair amount of your hard-earned cash in ink, paper and postage.

If you’ve researched properly, but still receive a ‘not right for our list’ letter, although it’s hard, you have to accept it and move on. Agents and publishers receive huge volumes of material every week and sometimes work is rejected without being read. It happens; as writers we have to be thick-skinned and get over it.

Any pointers as to why the manuscript failed to make the grade should be acted on. Agents and publishers are busy people. It is very rare for anyone to take the time to tell you what’s wrong with your work, so treat this information with respect and revise accordingly.

Whatever you do, don’t fire off an angry letter, or email. Your work was rejected – end of story (excuse the pun). Venting your spleen won’t change anyone’s mind, but might make you a powerful enemy in an industry where word rapidly spreads.

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  1. Sage advice Lorraine. I think it's also important that the writer doesn't allow their anger to fester but, in the interest of good health, moves to a positive place as quickly as possible after the rejection. An exercise I find useful is to list five good things that have happened today. There's always something, a smile from a child, a kind word from a friend, sunshine or bird song. Then dust off and get that manuscript on its way again.

  2. So pleased you found the post useful. Thanks for commenting.