I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Friday, March 26, 2010

TOPIC: Rejection Letters: "The Semi-Personal" (Part 2)

Last week I shared some very basic forms of the Standard Rejection Letter. Today, I have a few semi-personalised ones to show you. These aren't much above the SRL, but it seems whomever read the work either saw a glimmer of potential in the work I submitted, or felt strongly moved enough to tell me to get help to hone my writing skills.

I suspect the latter, but then we always opt for the negative, don't we? ;-)


Dear Contributor,

Thank you for writing to us about your project. It does seem like a good story and thoughtful book, but, unfortunately, not one that we could best publish.

It's a tough world for writers out there. You might want to find an agent to market your book. The Literary Market Place (available at your local library), is a good place to start. I would suggest getting involved in a writers' group that can offer you ongoing support and a creative environment to work in.

Whatever path you may choose, we wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Publisher X Editorial

This scrapes in as semi-personal rejection letter. Why? Look at the information in the second paragraph. The editorial assistant has advised me to a) find an agent; b) find a reference book and c) join a writers' group. All hints that I need to develop my writing skills and knowledge about the industry (which I was sorely lacking when I submitted this proposal). Whomever read this took time and was kind enough to impart this advice rather than whip out the Standard Rejection Letter.


Dear Kylie,

Thank you for submitting chapters of your manuscripts A and B. I have read through your work and enjoyed aspects of it very much.

However, I also think you need to work on your expression and sentence structure. See, for example, the fifth sentence of the first paragraph of Manuscript A: here, the use of pronouns is confusing as SECONDARY CHARACTER and the bird are both referred to by feminine pronouns, and the reader has to reread the sentence to get the proper sense. Also, many of the sentences are heavily loaded with adjectives and adverbs. I suggest cutting back on these as they tend to clutter the writing.

In view of these matters and after careful consideration, I'm afraid that I do not feel sufficiently confident about finding a publisher for this work, and we are therefore unable to offer to represent you.

As we have previously noted, another reader might have a completely different response, and so I encourage you to send your work to other agents, or directly to publishers. I hope the comments here are helpful to that end.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to read this new work; I certainly wish you well with it and I'm sorry we were unable to be of assistance to you.

Yours sincerely,
Agent A

Is this a positive response? I'd give this a reserved yes. There's some personal feedback here from the agent. Helpful, to a point. In a nutshell, she's telling me my grammar and writing style needs lots of work. But at least she's taken the time to tell me this.


Dear Kylie,

Thank you for sending me Manuscript F. Unfortunately, I don't think it's really right for Publishing House D paranormal romance line. While it's clear you've put a lot of thought into the world you've constructed, your characters are less interesting. RACE A are flawlessly good, and RACE B are flawlessly evil - what makes people interesting are their shades of grey, their choices. None of your characters seem to struggle over their choices - nor do they even seem to have to make difficult choices.

I also had a problem with the prophecy. A good prophecy is mysterious, and adds an element o the unknown and uncertain to the tale. You prophecy is very cut and dry and obvious - there is no mystery, there is no struggle for deciphering it. That cuts out half the fun!

If you have anything else that would be suitable for Publishing House D's paranormal romance program, please feel free to send it along; I'd be happy to look at it.

Assistant Editor

Ouch, eh? Lots of blows here to the confidence and ego, and believe me I winced with every one. Positives? Well, I aimed it at the right house. This one accepted paranormal romances and took the time to read it. She pointed out what I needed to work on - she took the time to give me personalised feedback. More often than not editors don't, can't, they're too busy, but this told me she was interested enough to give me a few pointers. It meant pretty much tearing the book apart and reconstructing it from the foundations up, but it was feedback. There's also a generic offer to submit fresh material.


This from another editor who read the same manuscript mentioned in the last example. I'd edited and worked on the ms before submitting it to this publishing house/editor. 

Dear Kylie,

Thank you for thinking of Publishing House G for Manuscript F, and for your patience! The manuscript had gotten a favourable read and I wanted to take the time to evaluate it personally.

Although Manuscript F doesn't quite work for us, I did enjoy many aspects of the story and would be interested in seeing other projects if you have something suitable for one of our lines.

The strengths of your story include a strong plot and scene tension (especially after the first few chapters), ans appealing characters - HEROINE comes across as having great potential - my main concern was that the romance is too developed, and the scope of the story isn't fully explored. Too, there are occassionally colloquial expressions that don't quite fit with the setting. The VILLAIN seems to be carried along a bit too long and feels forced as he lurks around.

And except for the other world and the seer, there isn't a sense of pervasive energy or magic about the story. The setting is vaguely Earthlike, but there isn't a real sense of the differences that make this world unique.

The story is also shorter than our needs - at least 100 000 words. Some of that might be addressed by developing the quest aspects and the magic feel. And more could be added with a revision of the conclusion which feels rather abrupt. There's a let-down that things are wrapped up in that fashion- and the ending becomes too strongly romantic with the pregnancy aspect. And it also leaves open what their future together will be like.

Again, thank you for thinking of us, and do let me know if you rework Manuscript F. You can also send along the other manuscripts you pitched as appropriate to Publishing House G. But do keep in mind we're looking for a larger scope to the stories.

Executive Editor

This is a borderline semi-personal rejection letter but I decided to put it in this category because ultimately there was too much work to be done despite it being a highly personalised and detailed. Again, lots of work to do on the manuscript but, in general, it garnered interest and an invitation to submit other work suitable for the line.

Another thing to note is that this response came from an Executive Editor - a step up along the food chain in the publishing house. Look at the opening paragraph she mentions "The manuscript had gotten a favourable read, and I wanted to take the time to evaluate it personally." This has arrived on the slush pile, probably been read by a junior or assistant editor, caught their attention and been passed along to the executive editor. Progress!

Next time I'll share the almost there part of your journey in querying and multiple submissions and rejections.

No comments:

Post a Comment