I’ve had a rejection. The novella I had great hopes for has been returned as ‘not for us’ after nearly 5 months.

I opened the email while on a lovely weekend visiting relatives in South Wales. I was in bed settling down for the night when I clicked on it, so obviously then I couldn’t go to sleep as I was Down In The Dumps.

On getting home I read it again and, you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Yes, it was a form rejection but a pleasant one. Why? Because they’d be happy to consider further submissions and they wished me the best of luck placing my manuscript with someone else.

They probably send the same email to everyone, including those who can’t spell or write coherently. But that’s not the point, is it? Getting a rejection is a miserable business so getting one that gives you hope is a lovely thing. And I can sit here and tell myself there is an alternative wording for those writers they really don’t want to hear from again!

So, I need to seek alternative homes for my 23K of passion, and think about why it got rejected in the first place. The publisher (Carina) doesn’t give individual feedback but they do have a blog where they list the 10 most common reasons for rejection. 

Looking at this and re-reading my story, I’m guessing I mainly fell into the too much back story at the beginning trap. I have now re-read two of the publisher’s books and their typical heroines/heroes meet in the first one or two pages. Mine don’t do that. I made the mistake of painting the scene – an archeological dig on Shetland – and then setting out my heroine’s internal motivation first and that lasted a good few pages. My hero entered while she was still off shopping for supplies. Need to work on that.

What I can’t be objective about is if I have fallen into any of the other traps. I think my story is engaging, but others may not. It is, as the email says, a subjective thing. It’s entirely possible the problem is number 2 – that in an overcrowded genre my story doesn’t stand out as fresh or unique. On the other hand, it did take nearly 2 months longer than stated to get returned. That has to be a good thing, right? Hopefully they thought about it at least.

Although they state they don’t have time to give individual feedback, they do sessions on Twitter where they quote editor’s comments on rejected manuscripts. There’s one here. They don’t, of course, identify the manuscript so you can’t possibly know if the comment refers to yours making it a completely useless individual feedback exercise. Clearly these comments hit a nerve with editors. However, it’s all very well saying ‘don’t bore the editor’ but if nobody tells you it’s your manuscript that’s boring, it’s very easy to convince yourself that yours is the one that is really well written but “I didn’t like the hero.” How much better it would be if they had a list of the 10 reasons in the form rejection email and the sender could tick one or more when sending it. That wouldn’t take much time, would it? And it might attract better targeted submissions next time round. As it is, I’m not really sure what I need to work on.

Never mind, onwards and upwards.



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