Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Start of a New Year

Can't believe it's been so long since I updated my blog   but I have a good excuse.  I've been working insanely on several manuscripts.

Over the holidays, I got a good rejection and that's next on my "to-do" list.  If you're scratching your head (or other body part) about the concept of a "good rejection," then here's the deal.

Bad Rejection:  Dear Author, Due to the volume of submissions we receive, we can't possibly be expected to respond to every query with the sort of personal rejection we'd prefer.  Thank you for your submission, but it does not suit our needs at the current time.  We wish you good luck submitting it elsewhere.

Now I don't know about you, but when a rejection ends in "good luck submitting your work elsewhere," it always sounds a little sarcastic to me.  Like yeah, good luck there, sport.

I did get some of those, too, over the holiday season.  Some were sent with a painful apology at sending a rejection just in time for Christmas.  Others are waiting (I can feel them out there) to send rejections after the holidays are over, when you're suitably depressed, anyway. 

But in the midst of all the well-meaning sarcasm, I also got a good rejection.

Good Rejection:  Dear Amy, thank you for your submission.  We read it with interest and although we cannot offer a contract on it at this time, if you would consider revising it, we would love to see it again.  ...And then they list the things they'd like me to think about revising...

Yeah.  I can do that.  You betcha.  And this time, I'm not even close to being sarcastic, because that's the opportunity I've been waiting for.  Maybe not the opportunity, which would be a multi-book contract with nice fat advance, but it is definitely a good opportunity.

Now, not all rejections like that are "good".  In some cases, the changes requested not only don't improve the book, but they actually may lead you down the road to ruin.  (Been there, done that, wrote the book, went broke.)  So you can't just accept any rejection requesting changes as an opportunity you want to pursue. 

If you're sure your book is exactly the way it has to be, and you can put your ego aside long enough to be able to determine this truthfully, then that rejection letter is just a rejection.  Move on.  Submit the book elsewhere until there are no more elsewheres to submit it.

But if the suggested changes ring a bell with you, and you think, Yeah, that's what I wanted to do when I wrote the book in the first place, then you should pursue the opportunity to the fullest extent the law will allow.

Word of Warning: There is no guarantee that you will make that sale after you modify your manuscript.  You may edit it to death or just downright ruin it.  (Been there, done that, too.)  Editing can sometimes make things worse, not better.  And the suggested changes are often just someone's idea of "what I would have done if I had been the author".

In my specific case, I read the changes with a sensation of relief.  Because the editor somehow divined what I was trying to do with the manuscript and suggested I do that.  I won't go into why I went down a different rabbit hole with the manuscript, but suffice to say, I really liked the editors suggestions.

So now I just have to make the changes, polish, and resubmit.  It's exciting and a little intimidating, because I know how easy it is to drop my little glass unicorn of a manuscript and break the horn off, turning it into a plain old glass horse. (To borrow a bit from a much more famous writer.)

And I'll probably be fairly quiet because before I start work on those revisions, I'm working on some other revisions that I need to finish by the end of January for another project.

No to mention that I want to start writing "A Feng Shui to Die" which is going to be a lot of fun.  Seriously.

Then, I have all these submissions I need to start sending out, so that I can start collecting more rejections for 2009.  I've got a goal of at least 100 rejections in 2009.

Hey!  I have a goal!  And I didn't think I was going to have any goals or New Year's resolutions in 2009.

Cool beans. Oh!  Jumping up with excitement  I also want to thank the wonderful folks (or lady) at Book Utopia who put my book, I Bid One American, on her list of best books in 2008!  Not to mention, she noted one thing about me that is just the best!  She said there was a whimsical quality to my writing!  Thank you!  (Sincerely and without sarcasm.)  I love her.  (But not in that way.)

I love whimsy.  And the whimsical.  That's why I like P.G. Wodehouse and Piers Anthony's XANTH books.  And Charlotte Macleod's Convivial Codfish.  Whimsical is fun and funny, and it makes me feel good to know that others see that lovely quality in my writing.  If I thought editors would accept it, I'd be even more whimsical than I am.  Whimsical and sarcastic.  Dark chocolate with an ooshy-gooshy white chocolate center.


So, see ya around, and I'll try to keep up with blogging and the occassional e-mail.

Good luck to everyone out there in Cyber-land.  Best wishes to all!

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