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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rejection 101: What Authors Should NEVER Do When They Get Rejections


I know. Rejections hurt.

But they're also a necessary part of your career as an author. So when you get your first one, give yourself time to feel the pain, then do something to celebrate. Maybe even print it out and frame it.

Yup. You read that right. Congratulations!

You now have the one thing that all professional writers have in common. Every single professional writer gets a boatload of rejections.

But you know what's worse than rejections?

No rejections.

The rejection system is part of your education in the publishing industry. Getting your work accepted before you've had time to learn about the business can backfire. Big time. You can get scammed or talked into signing a bad contract, or you can bumble into a comedy of errors the way I did.

The first agent I queried accepted me as a client. Great, right?

Not so much.

I'd sent out my query to one of the top agencies in L.A., got a request for a full manuscript, and a week later I heard from her assistant—a man about to become an agent in his own right—who was in love with my manuscript.  In a delightful British accent, he pronounced my story "hilarious" and said he'd "show it around to a few people."

So—since I'd heard you should  never phone an agent—I sat around and waited. And waited. Six months. Nothing. No contract. No word of anything. Finally I sent off a letter (no email in those days) asking if anything was happening. No word. So I waited some more. A month later, I finally phoned the agency.

Seems "my agent" had left the business a couple of weeks after we'd talked and gone back to England.

Thunk.

So I queried another agent. (No, I hadn't thought to keep querying during that eight months. I was naive enough to think that phone call meant what I had was a done deal.)

So did I finally get a rejection? Nope—acceptance, but again, no contract. My book went out to a dozen editors over six months, with no takers—so the agent dropped me.

Double thunk.

But I soldiered on. I bought Jeff Herman's Guide to Literary Agents and sent well-researched, targeted queries to dozens of agents. I was sure if I got two agents right off the bat, I could get my pick of others.

Ha! That's when I got the rejections. Hundreds of them. And they hurt worse because I'd set myself up to think I'd be easily accepted.

I'd search every one for clues to what was "wrong" with the book and go into a frenzy of rewriting.
  • When an agent said, "I just can't connect with these characters," I'd make every character a little more bland.
  • When an agent said "this plot is confusing," I'd eliminate the subplots. 
  • When an agent said "humorous fiction is a hard sell," I'd remove the jokes. 
  • When an agent said she was no longer taking adult fiction; she only wanted YA, I'd try to rewrite the story as YA.
So after years of rejections and rewrites, did I have a gorgeous, perfect book every agent would love?

No. I had an unreadable mess.

I wrote other books and went through the submission process with a few more agents and finally got my big break with a small UK publisher.

But that poor, much-rejected, over-edited book sat in a drawer, unloved.

I figured it was that practice novel that would never see print, even though my beta readers kept asking why I hadn't published it because it was their favorite.

Then about a year ago an old friend who had been cleaning out his garage came by with the manuscript of that abandoned book. He had one of the earliest versions, in printout and on a CD.

I looked over that old, unedited version and realized it was a pretty good story. It needed a polish, but it was 100% better than the Frankenbook I'd created while editing it to death—trying to please all the people all the time.

Recently I sent that ancient ms. to my publisher.

He loved it.

He wants a ton of edits, of course, and a new title.

The title we've decided on is The Lady of the Lakewood Diner. It will be #3 in my Boomer trilogy together with Food of Love and The Gatsby Game.

It's a fun, breezy romp through the last six decades, as a sixty-something small-town grandma tries to figure out who's trying to kill her childhood best friend—an aging rock star who calls herself Morgan le Fay. Think Beaches meets Mama Mia! at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

While I get to work on the edits, my friend and mentor, the phenomenal Catherine Ryan Hyde will tell you why you should never, ever do what I did.

Catherine is not only the author of the iconic novel that gave us the phrase Pay it Forward  but her three newest titles Walk Me Home, When I Found You, and Where We Belong rocketed her to the top of Amazon's bestseller list this summer.

She even knocked J.K.Rowling off her perch as the #1 top selling author on Amazon.

And now you're going to see why Catherine's career has been so successful: she never doubts her muse.
                                                                                                                                                        ...Anne

The Year of My 122 Rejections
by #1 Bestselling Author 
Catherine Ryan Hyde


Between the time I wrote my first novel (my critique group didn’t much like it) and the time I wrote my third novel (ditto) I was unable to interest an agent in my work. Sound like anybody you know?

I sent out about 25 queries with synopses and sample materials, just like they asked me to do. And I waited. And not one single one of those agents wanted to know anything more about me or my novels. They either were not accepting new clients (or claimed they were not), or were “unable to give my work the enthusiasm it so obviously deserved.”

Right, I know. It’s incomprehensible. It’s not just you.

In an effort to batter down that brick wall, I decided I would market my own short fiction. Much easier. Right?

Over the next year or so, I received 122 rejections on about a dozen short stories. And no acceptances.

How did I keep going? A little bit of mentorship. A couple of authors in my critique group were much better published, and they said things like, “This happens to all authors,” and, “It’s right around the corner for you.”

Finally…finally, finally (did I mention that it was after a bit of a wait?) I received my first short story acceptance.

Five days later I received my second.

Nine days after that I received my third.

So, a year of nothing but rejection. Followed by three story acceptances in the span of two weeks. What does this say about the pattern of acceptance and rejection? So far as I know, nothing. There’s not much to be said, because there really is no pattern. A lot of it is just the luck of the draw. Getting the right story to the right editor on the right day.

Here’s the most important thing I want to tell you about my short story rejections: every one of those stories went on to find a home. And I did not rewrite them based on what each editor said.

It’s a good thing I didn’t, too.

That first acceptance was from a magazine called South Dakota Review, for my short story Earthquake Weather. South Dakota Review was a pretty darned good magazine for my first time out. Based in a reputable university, they’d been publishing stories for over 20 years.


Just before I sent Earthquake Weather to South Dakota Review, I got it back rejected from a magazine of much smaller reputation. It was called the Belletrist Review, may it rest in peace. They said they liked the story as a whole but felt there was a “hollowness” to the characters.

The editor at South Dakota Review was one of a very few who was nice enough to write an actual acceptance letter, telling me why he chose the story. He said I showed poise in the way I depicted the characters with brief brush strokes.

Hear what just happened?
  • The characters have a hollowness. 
  • The characters are depicted with brief brush strokes.
One editor took it for the same reason the other editor rejected it.

Now picture me getting it back from Belletrist Review and revising it. After all, I don’t want the characters to be hollow. Then I send it to South Dakota Review, and the editor shakes his head. Because I’ve shown no poise in the way I depict the characters. Because I used far too many brush strokes.

Yes, I do mean to say you should not revise based on rejection. 


If you had a first date with someone who didn’t fall madly in love with you, would you just keep changing yourself until they did? And, as a follow-up question, do you think they ever would?

You should fix a story if you agree that it’s broken, but for no other reason.

In the meantime, just keep looking for someone who loves it for what it is.

Even if you have to weather 122 editors who don’t.



Book Deal of the Week

Catherine's #1 Bestseller is only $3.99 right now on Amazon. Digital list price reg. $9.99



Since their mother’s sudden death, sixteen-year-old Carly and her eleven-year-old sister, Jen, have been walking and hitchhiking across the Southwest trying to find Teddy, the closest thing they have to a family. Carly desperately hopes Teddy will take them in and save them from going into foster care—and forgive them for the lies told by their mother.


But when the starving girls get caught stealing food on a Native American reservation, their journey gets put on hold. While the girls work off their debt, Carly becomes determined to travel onward—until Jen confesses a terrible secret that leaves both sisters wondering if they can ever trust again. 

Set against the backdrop of the American Southwest, Walk Me Home and its resilient heroines will inspire readers and renew their faith in recovery and redemption.

What about you, scriveners? Do you have any questions for Catherine about rejections? She'll be here Sunday September 8th  to answer them. Have you ever rewritten a piece after a rejection? 


Next week: Blog Ninja and Sci-Fi author Alex J. Cavanaugh will tell us about blog community and forming his Insecure Writers Support Group.

Opportunity Alerts

REAL SIMPLE'S 6th annual Life Lessons Essay Contest NO ENTRY FEE. A prize of $3,000 and publication in Real Simple magazine is given annually for an essay on a theme by a U.S. writer. 2nd place is $750 and 3rd place gets $500 are also given. This year's theme is, "What's the bravest thing you've ever done?" Submit an essay of up to 1,500 words. Visit the website for complete guidelines. Deadline September 19th.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction Entry fee $10. A prize of $1,000 and publication in Rosebud Magazine. Submit a previously unpublished story of up to 4,500 words. Deadline September 15th 

 The Harper's Bazaar UK Short Story Prize is open to all writers. NO ENTRY FEE. Are you the next Dorothy Parker or Anita Loos? Submit an original short story (up to 3,000 words) on the subject of 'spring' to:shortstory@harpersbazaar.co.uk. The winning entry will appear in the May 2014 issue. Its author will be able to choose a first-edition book from Asprey's Fine and Rare Books Department to the value of £3,000 and enjoy a week-long retreat at Eilean Shona House, on the 2,000-acre private island off the west coast of Scotland where JM Barrie wrote his screenplay for Peter Pan. Deadline December 13th.

BARTLEBY SNOPES WRITING CONTEST - Can you write a story that's in dialog only? $10 ENTRY FEE A minimum of $300 will be awarded, with at least $250 going to first place and at least $10 to four honorable mentions. 5 finalists will also appear in Issue 11 of the magazine due out in January 2014. Last year they awarded $585 in prize money. For every entry over 25, an additional $5 will be awarded to the first place story. Compose a short story entirely of dialogue. You may use as many characters as you want. Your entry must be under 2,000 words. Your entry does not have to follow standard rules for writing dialogue. Your entry cannot use any narration (this includes tag lines such as he said, she said, etc.) Deadline September 15th

The Rumpus has launched the Weekly Rumpus and is calling for submissions. They are interested in "sharp, fresh, original work that grapples with life as it is really lived and felt in the world today. We want writing that walks on a wire, questions conventions, conveys a vision." 1000-6000 words. Here's their submissions page.


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44 Comments:

Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is really smart advice. Every publisher and agent has different tastes. If it's a universal issue, that's one thing, but if we change the story to fit every person, then we'll have dozens of versions that don't work well - and no hope anyone will like the changes anyway.
And with this industry, I totally believe a lot of it is in the timing.

September 8, 2013 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

I've only revised on comments from my critique partners. They are the people who know my writing the best so why shouldn't I listen to them.

I queried three of my novels to scads of rejections and only one asked for a revise and resubmit, which I did not do. I'd heard too many horror stories of other writers in that scenario and I didn't need to be kept in limbo while the agent decided if I'd done what she wanted.

Ultimately, I self-published and am very happy where I am.

Thanks for your confirming words of wisdom Catherine. It's always nice to know I was right in hindsight.

September 8, 2013 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Thanks, Alex. I agree about timing. I have a piece in How to be a Writer in the E-Age that I call my ultimate rejection story. It's about Chuck Adams of Simon & Schuster making an offer on my novel Walter's Purple Heart... which he had rejected a couple of years earlier. And he knew it. But things changed.

Anne, I'm glad you have a great critique group, and I always advise listening. They're probably right the vast majority of the time. But even in an ideal environment like that one, if you hear something that doesn't resonate with your own vision for the work, I'd pay attention to your gut. If only for the practice in sorting between what to keep and what to throw away.

Bottom line, many authors really don't know how often a rejection is not so much a judgment of the work, but a reflection of what the agent or editor likes, or feels she can sell. And I think a lot of great writers get lost in that rabbit hole of misperception.

September 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Every writer gets rejected. Doesn't mean diddly. Just proves William Goldman was right: Nobody knows anything.

I totally 1000% agree with Catherine: Don't make changes/edits/revisions because some editor/agent/intern says so. The exception is when the comment resonates and you agree. Not in your head. In your gut.

September 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Ruth, I said that once at a conference speech at the Steinbeck Center. "Nobody knows anything." I heard later that some of the agents raised their eyebrows at that. Oh, well. If agents and editors always "knew," they would never pass on bestsellers or publish highly-touted flops. But they do, every season.

September 8, 2013 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Although I haven't tried a book MS yet, I certainly have had my share of article and essay rejections. It stings, but I'm recovering more quickly than I used to. I also know it means I'm still trying. As you said, it's better than no rejections because you're afraid to try!

I appreciate the advice, for when the day comes (and it will) to not manipulate our manuscripts to try and please an agent. Makes us folks still out here trying feel encouraged. Thanks. :)

September 8, 2013 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Thanks, Julie. Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I honestly believe that we writer types (and we human types) are supposed to stick together.

September 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger M.L. Swift said...

What an excellent article—the intro and the part by Catherine. In this time that I've been learning, I've heard so many people saying how they revise based on editor feedback, but the bottom line of all the ones I admire said, if you agree (only if you agree) make the change, if not, try someone else. If you believe that much in your work (and you should), stand by it.

Thank you Catherine, for an excellent example of steadfastness.

M.L. Swift, Writer

September 8, 2013 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Thanks, M.L. Swift. It took a while to learn. It's hard to have the confidence to believe yourself at first. Later, when you've seen those same books and stories published without revision, it gets easier. So this is why writers need mentorship, in my opinion. I know I did.

September 8, 2013 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Mary Mary said...

Both are great stories. I hear you on needing the rejections, even though nobody likes it. In this business, writers need a tough skin, because if they don't hear rejection from an agent or painful revision advice from crit partners, then they just aren't learning. Writing is all about learning and developing the craft with every new story or book.

September 8, 2013 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

I agree, Mary. I cut my teeth in a read-and-critique group. I worry that some writers, in this new digital age, choose indie (I'm a hybrid author and have no problem with indie) as a way of circumventing rejection and criticism... only to meet Goodreads and the Amazon reader review. I'd rather get used to it early on. I'd also rather hear it in private.

September 8, 2013 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

I CANNOT tell both of you how much this blog post means to me. I am querying agents for my fifth book which is SO much better than my first one and the rejection letters are piling up. It's so hard to keep my head up although I 100% believe in my work and that I've written some great stories. So reading this post gives me strength and lifts my spirits.
THANK YOU so much.
Patti

September 8, 2013 at 3:38 PM  
OpenID catierhodes said...

I did rewrite my first novel after receiving a rejection from an agent. She said she couldn't connect with my main character. Though I hadn't thought anything wrong with the novel when that same agent requested the full manuscript after I won a three-line-pitch contest, I knew as as soon as I got her (very polite) rejection that something WAS wrong.

I flailed around for a year, getting critiques and rewriting. None of my peers could quite tell me what was wrong or what to do about it. (But they did admit something was missing.)

Finally, I bit the bullet and hired an developmental editor on my own dime. Best money I ever spent.

This editor had me cut most of my rewrites because they didn't address the novel's true problem...which was not showing what my heroine was thinking or feeling. Oh, and I also wasn't explaining how she got from point A to point B. Or why she chose the path she did. *head desk*

Anyway, I did the rewrites this editor suggested, and they improved the novel greatly. So I'm glad I did what I did.

September 8, 2013 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Trekelny said...

It's a fascinating topic really. I think the hurt from rejection, in the brief period I dared to suffer it, generated from the idea that agents, publishers, editors, were probably folks who loved to read.

But now I'm starting to think they're like my lovely wife- a splendid cook, and everyone in the family needs to eat something different (weak immune systems, digestive problems). I can eat anything, but I hover around watching her cook two to three completely different meals, like a restaurant. And then... she isn't hungry anymore!

I was fortunate, I think, to sense early on that this path wasn't leading anywhere good. I agree that critique partners are pure gold: my sense of witness about the Lands of Hope is so overwhelming I cannot see where the words I've used are confusing, until someone else points them out. They have helped me tremendously- no publishing industry professional has so much as given me the time of day by comparison.

September 8, 2013 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Not sure if it helps to know, Patricia, but my agent rejected Pay It Forward. Not AN agent, MY agent. She wanted me to completely tear it apart and put it back together. Instead I got a new agent. I'm not even going to say she was wrong, because I don't think there is a right and wrong in fiction. Some people didn't like that book and she was one of them. What I will say is that I'm awfully glad I didn't believe her and put it in a drawer.

And Catie, you make a good point. Sometimes we hear feedback and it doesn't resonate with us. But then we hear it again. And again. At that point I think it pays to look much closer and see if we can get a bead on what everyone else is seeing. Being a writer reminds me of the old joke about being a painter on a scaffold: the trouble is you can't step back and get perspective on your work.

September 8, 2013 at 4:03 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Trekelny, my personal feeling is that most agents and editors did like to read when they got into the business. Whether any individual one still does is anybody's guess. I think it's valuable to know that your work is likely not being read by the agent or editor you addressed it to, but by a "first reader." (They call them editorial assistants now, but what's in a name?) The biggest problem I see with that is the courage it takes to kick something "upstairs" to a big agent or editor they admire. It's easy to second guess one's self, and a lot of good work slips through the cracks that way. And if it was read the by target agent or editor, well... they sometimes second guess themselves, too.

September 8, 2013 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Diana Wilder said...

I'm glad I paused to read this. I see so many people who want to please others at the expense of their own instinct. There is such a difference between, 'Hm. You may be right... Let me think about it,' and 'Omigosh. I can't believe I fouled it up so badly. I'll make all the changes. That'll fix things.' Criticism that 'feels right' is a whole lot different from that which feels like a wrecker's ball.
Diana at Diana Wilder, Author

September 8, 2013 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Good insight, Diana. From my experience with critique groups (I have plenty) there seem to be two pitfalls to hearing criticism. One is thinking everyone else is right, and the other is thinking everyone else is wrong.

September 8, 2013 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Donelle Lacy said...

I want to frame this blog post and put it on the wall (or, more appropriately, above my writing desk). Thanks! I've come to realize that being a writer is dealing with everyone and their mother's opinion of how you should write your book. Even if you don't agree with them, those opinions and criticisms can be hard to handle - and that's to say nothing of rejection letters from agents. That's why I think writers need a support group of people who give helpful advice and encouragement. When you get buried under rejections, they can help pull you out.

September 8, 2013 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

Wow, I love the comparison to dating. Love this post. Thanks for the encouragement!

September 8, 2013 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Thanks, Donelle. I have to admit that, even to this day, a cutting line in a review can be hard for me to shake off. But that's okay. I mean, we're all human. We have our feelings. The trick is to keep going in spite of the "ick" of that process.

And Julie, I'm afraid a lot of those same buttons get pushed. Rejection is rejection.

September 8, 2013 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger widdershins said...

A bit about the Bartleby Snopes dialogue short story competition. I have a story that I wrote a while back, you guessed it, completely in dialogue. Seems nobody wanted to publish it .. and then I read through this post and find the competition! ... serendipity happens!

September 8, 2013 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Claude Nougat said...

Love the double post about rejection and love reading all the comments! It feels like being among friends and shop talking and bitching...yes, who hasn't been hurt by rejection? If you're a writer, that's your fate. But I have to say it's the same for a painter (I've tried for 5 years as an artist, only to crash against the wall of contemporary art...)

If you create something, there will always be someone who doesn't like it. Maybe even lots of people who don't like it. But there will always be somewhere that special person who does like it. Keep looking for her!

September 9, 2013 at 1:00 AM  
Blogger Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Excellent article on rejection and how not to butcher your manuscript trying to make it appeal to everyone.

September 9, 2013 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

widdershins--I'm so glad to help. I wrote a dialog-only story that was lost in the ether long ago, but when I saw this competition, I wished I'd hung onto it. Great to know you've still got yours. Best of luck in the contest!

Claude--There are so many parallels between painting and writing. There's so much snark at the top. One "school" loves what another "school" hates.

But it's really up to the public to say what they want. I have a friend who's an untrained 'hobby painter' who makes a nice living with her work. She paints smallish canvases of the local landmarks and sells them for under $100 to tourists. Any art school would hoot her out of the building in a second, but she knows what the public wants and she delivers.

Michael--Butchering my manuscripts is what I used to do best. :-) No more. Unlike the painter I mentioned in my comment to Claude, I don't write stuff with mass appeal. My rom-coms are inspired by the screwball comedy films of the 1930s, so I have to look harder for my audience. But they are out there, and it's so gratifying when I see I'm connecting with them.

September 9, 2013 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Johanna Garth said...

This is such great advice! Stay true to yourself and your story!

September 9, 2013 at 10:43 AM  
OpenID haydenthorne.com said...

How's this for optimism?

I've always known that my stories cater to a niche market, and yet I spent two years collecting rejections from agents who, I believed (har-har!), would be so impressed with how "unique" my approach was to this market that they'd take a chance on my book.

Hope springs eternal, oh, yes. I eventually found a very comfortable home with a small press for, yep, my niche. I look back at my earlier efforts now with a great deal of sniggering and eye-rolling.

September 9, 2013 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Joanna--It sure has worked for Catherine!

Hayden--Writing is a learning curve, no doubt about it. Our early efforts may not ever see print. That's okay. But once you do have a polished piece of work, it's worthwhile to keep hunting until you find the people who do appreciate your "niche." Small presses are a great place to look. It's worked for me, too. Congrats on finding the right publisher for your unique voice!

September 9, 2013 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger mooderino said...

You really can't please everyone, but it is tempting to try. Great post.

mood
Moody Writing

September 10, 2013 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Moody--Thanks! I sure did try--and mostly it backfired.

September 10, 2013 at 7:10 PM  
Blogger Rosi said...

Wonderful post. So much to take from this. Thanks.

September 11, 2013 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Chow said...

I never knew that the agent could call you, and then just drop you. What a shocking experience, Anne!

Thank you for inspiring us, Catherine! It's encouraging to know that even after a year of rejections, you kept writing and submitting. Reading is so subjective, and I've found people saying the exact opposite critiques of my work sometimes.

September 12, 2013 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rosi--Thanks. It's great to hear that it helped.

Jennifer--Agents start out as unpaid interns, and it's just as tough for them to get started as it is for us. Lots of them can't survive on no pay and all that rejection. Sad, but it's a brutal business. You're so right about how subjective it is. It's a lot like dating. You just have to find the right person your work "clicks" with.

September 12, 2013 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I love this SO MUCH.

I tried to interest anybody in my Austen Takes the South series. I have buckets of rejections. When I signed with an agent, even she hated it. I heard, "Maybe without the Austen part, it would be a fun story." I heard, "The Civil War history part is too much." I heard, "This doesn't really fit anywhere because there's Christianity in a few scenes and that would make it inspirational... but it's a modern romance set in the South based on...." At this point they usually lost focus and wandered away.

I did revise a few times, trying to remove what agents thought made it unsellable. My agent (before we 'parted ways') told me, after I'd pitched it for the 5th time, "Glad you got that out of your system." She recommended I stay writing short trade fiction. It wouldn't pay the bills but she could sell them.

I decided to put them on Amazon rather than delete them. Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits has sold close to 15K copies and been downloaded 70K times for free. Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs has sold close to 10K copies since May.

They just wouldn't be the same stories without all the little quirks and odd characters and side plots and inside jokes and Austen fanatics. And I'm okay with it. :)

September 14, 2013 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Virginia--Thanks so much for sharing that story with us. It illustrates exactly what Catherine is saying.

And I've gotta say, your books sound fantastic. I'm going to go check those out right now. Ignore the Janeites at your peril, Big 5-ers!

September 14, 2013 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 14, 2013 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Sorry! Previous comment had an annoying and confusing typo (as opposed to the other kind, which are just harmless and expected).

As for ignoring Janeites...

ha!

I know, right? And I was pitching this the year before the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice AND the year before the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg.

Hello! Even if you hate Jane, The South, or Civil War history, You have to admit that sort of story should get a bit of a boost from the anniversaries.

But no sad face over here!

September 14, 2013 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Virginia--I think we tend to overestimate the marketing savvy of agents. They know what the publishing companies say they want that month, so if your idea isn't on the list, they don't care how brilliant it is. This is why they spend so much of their time oversaturating the market with copy-cats. It's a rare agent who takes a chance on something new, since big publishers will turn it down. New ideas have to come from small presses and indies.

September 15, 2013 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

Great post with a great intro. Loved this, Anne: " you know what's worse than rejections? No rejections." That sums it up!

Like Catherine, I've had many rejections on short stories, but all of them eventually received a home somewhere. I have a few out now that have been rejected widely. I delete each rejection email with a shrug. "Onward," I think, and I honestly do not feel a sting. It comes with practice and experience--that lack of sting.

September 15, 2013 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nina--It does get a little less sting-y doesn't it? I feel that way about bad reviews. Each one used to hurt like crazy. Now I have to accept that you can't please everybody. I like your word "Onward".

September 15, 2013 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Krista Quintana said...

Wow! It's amazing to see first hand what happens when someone takes everyone else's advice and sets aside their own opinions. I know that that's something I always watch out for. I want to make sure that my MS is always completely mine. I actually just wrote a post about it, would love to have you take a look! http://kristaquintana.blogspot.com/2013/09/on-jalapenos-and-hot-sauce.html

September 15, 2013 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Krista--I like the analogy with food preferences. If somebody pours hot sauce all over your delicately seasoned cooking, all it says is the guy is seriously into hot sauce, and it says nothing about your cooking. Books are the same way. As the French say, "chacun a son gout"--everybody has his own taste.

September 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Peaches Ledwidge said...

I do enjoy reading your posts. You give actual examples to back up what you are saying.

Congrats to Catherine Ryan Hyde.

September 18, 2013 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Peaches--I think that's my academic training. I always have to quote a source. :-) Catherine is indeed amazing. She started her career with a bang with Pay it Forward and keeps getting better and better.

September 18, 2013 at 9:47 PM  

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