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Anne R. Allen's Blog


My Photo

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, February 22, 2015

The 10 REAL Reasons Your Book Was Rejected: A Big 5 Editor Tells All

by Ruth Harris

I'm an Amazon #1 and million-copy NYT bestselling author published by Random House, Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s. I was also an editor for over 20 years. I worked at Macmillan, Dell and Bantam and for a small but thriving independent paperback house, now defunct—not because of me. :-) I was also the Publisher of Kensington.

I’ve been the rejector and the rejectee which means rejection is a subject I know a bit about.

So let me cut rejection down to size.

Manuscripts get rejected; not writers.

It's business and (most of the time) it's not personal.

The reasons for rejection start with the basics, i.e. the ms. sucks. Author can't format/spell/doesn’t know grammar or punctuation. S/he is clueless about narrative, characterization, plotting, pacing, and can’t write dialogue. S/he has apparently never heard of paragraphing and writes endlessly long, meandering, incoherent sentences that ramble on like poison ivy. You cannot believe the grotesqueries I encountered during my days in the slush pile.

Sometimes, though, the ms. is not that bad and with competent editing, might well be acceptable. Unfortunately, the days of Maxwell Perkins are long gone. 

Staff editors, these days, are greatly overworked and overwhelmed. They don't have the time (or, if they are just starting out in the business, even the knowledge or experience) to edit the ms. into publishable shape. These days quality editing is the author’s (or the agent’s) responsibility.

Occasionally, other hazards present themselves...

Rejections come for unexpected reasons: True Story #1

Way back when I was a child working at Bantam, a would-be author showed up at the office, his ms. in hand. As the least important, most expendable (what if this guy turns out to be a nut and has a gun?) warm body on the staff, I was sent out to Reception to find out what he was offering. Shook hands, introduced myself, he yackety-yacked, blabbity-blabbed about his masterpiece. Then he opened the ms. box to show me his jewel and a cockroach jumped out. True story. Ms. rejected. Politely, I’m proud to say.

On the other hand, the ms. might be really good: timely subject, credible characters, dandy plot, lively dialogue, well-executed pacing. Lots of us really like it. Some of us love it.

BUT it could still be rejected for any number of other reasons, like...

1) Inventory Glut. 

We already have too many (insert your genre) and need to publish down the inventory so we’re not buying any of that particular genre. Sorry. Right now it doesn’t fit our needs. Nothing personal.

2) P & L Blues 

The P&L is the Profit And Loss projection publishers make for every book under consideration. The costs of publishing—printing, distributing, overhead, royalties, ad, publicity and promo, cover art and so on—are deducted from the projected income—that would be book sales, sub rights including audio, ebook, foreign, first and second serial, etc. 

If the bottom line flashes red, you can guess what will happen next. Has nothing to do with how “good” or “bad” your book is. We tried but we just couldn’t make the numbers work.

3) The Sales Whisperer. 

The Sales Department/Distributor just informed us that chick lit/gothic romance/space opera “doesn’t sell” any more. Books about transgender pygmy shape shifters in the suburbs of Northeastern Ulan Bator aren't selling the way they used to, either, so we’re not going to make an offer for your (well-written, scary, hilarious, fabulous) novel about transgender pygmy shape shifters in the suburbs of Northeastern Ulan Bator. Sorry. Right now it doesn’t fit our needs.

4) Mood Swings And Irrational Bias. 

The boss, editor-in-chief, head of Promo, hateshateshates the title/setting/subject for no logical reason.

Or maybe the title/setting/subject reminds him/her of his/her despised ex, the business partner who screwed him/her, the roommate who turned the apartment into a Department of Health hot zone.

Possibly the editor-in-question had a soul-sucking fight with his/her wife/girl friend/boy friend and is in such a lousy mood s/he’d turn down War And Peace.

Doesn’t happen often because we’re pros, know enough to watch out for our own quirks and biases, and will usually ask another editor for a second (or third) opinion, but, when the illogical runs rampant on a field of the irrational, fugetaboutit. You’re Tolstoy? Tough. Your masterpiece is toast.

5) Genre clash. 

We as a house excel with romance but are duds when it comes to science fiction. Maybe the buyer at a big distributor—or our Sales Manager, Editor-In-Chief, Marketing Director, CEO—doesn’t “get” (insert your book/genre). 

If so, pop the champagne when your ms. is turned down!

That's right: because, even if some of us love it, win the battle, and buy it, your book will be published badly. You’ll get a lame cover, miniscule print run, zero advertising, promotion or publicity, spine-out positioning on a top shelf in the poorly-lit back of the unventilated, un-airconditioned third floor next to the men's room.

You won’t be able to find your own book. Not even with a state-of-the-art GPS. Your book won’t sell. You’ll be miserable and you’ll blame us and you’d be right. You should also blame yourself for submitting to a publisher who’s the wrong fit for you and your book.

Whatever the case, frame that rejection letter and hoist that glass of Dom Perignon.

6) Secret Agents / Agent Secrets. 

You love your agent but we don’t. 

Maybe there was a battle over contract terms that went off the rails. Perhaps we think the agent in question was double dealing, used us to bid up a price, or shafted us in some other way. Whatever the specifics, and no matter who was right and who was wrong, we’re currently on non-speaking terms with your agent and peace negotiations have not yet been initiated.

Perhaps your agent is borderline, sociopathic, or into drugs and/or booze. Trust me, it happens. We’ve had it with the tantrums and tirades and boozed-up, coked-up phone calls. The agent has been blacklisted not just by us but by just about every publisher in town. You don’t know any of this but your book will suffer the consequences. Yet another instance in which rejection has nothing to do with you—or your book.

7) $$$$  

The company's in a cash crunch. Of course we’re never going to admit that (and our bosses might not even tell us) but we’ve been instructed to hold off on buying anything. Nada. Not right now and maybe not for the foreseeable future. Not until said crunch passes and the money’s flowing again.

You don’t know it—and you never will—but your timing sucks. Not your fault.

8) Corporate Convulsion. 

A major “reorganization” has taken place. Maybe the whole company has been bought/sold/merged. Maybe the decision has come from somewhere Up There in Corporate. Anyway, half the staff (at least) has been fired. 

A new regime is hired and they, the New Guys, are going to turn the company around by doing the opposite of what the Old Guys did. Not your fault, has absolutely nothing to do with you or your ms, but if you, your book or genre remind the New Guys of the Old Guys, you’re going to get rejected.

9) We blew it. 

Sometimes editors and publishers are just plain wrong. Examples of that all over the place from J.K. Rowling to Stephen King. We turned down your ms.? Maybe we made a mistake. We screwed up in the past, we’ll screw up again in the future and we know it. Turning down the ms. that becomes a hot bestseller is a risk that comes with the territory. We don’t like it any more than you do but it’s a fact.

10) You’re a PITA.

Once in a while, rejection is actually personal. We’ve published you before or a friend at another publisher has and we know from experience (or the grapevine) that you’re a whiny, nasty, demanding, narcissistic, high-maintenance PITA. No one wants to take your phone calls and everyone who’s had the misfortune of working with you hates you. 

We’ve had it with you and your diva-like tantrums and we’re never, never, never going to publish another book of yours again. Except, of course, if you’re making us a boatload of money. Even then, we still hate you and we’ll tell everyone (off the record, of course) that your books "aren’t as good/aren’t selling as well as they used to." Payback is a bitch.

Bottom Line: Rejection Isn’t Always What it Seems

Rejection can be an opportunity.

Now that writers have the option of self-publishing, rejection by traditional publishers has lost its sting and can actually be the stepping stone to a dazzling digital career. 

Romance superstar Marie Force shares her experience with rejection and says: "Every romance publisher in the business rejected Maid for Love, book 1 in the McCarthy Series, which will soon reach 2 million books sold. Similar story when I was first trying to sell the Fatal Series—everyone loved Fatal Affair, except they didn’t love the plan for a series about the same couple in every book….One of my favorite quotes, "It’s just NOT DONE in romance." Um okay then! Book 8 just became the second book in a row to hit the NYT in the top 10."

"The Fatal Series was eventually published by Carina Press when they came on the scene in late 2009 looking for outside-the-box stories. The Fatal Series was a great fit for their model. Fatal Affair was one of their debut books in June 2010, and the eighth book was released in January. The series has become very successful, and it is coming in print with the first seven being released in wide distribution this year."

Rejection can be a friend.

Marie goes on to say: "I need two hands to hold all the rejections I’ve received (and yes, I kept them all as a reminder of the journey). I am thankful for every one of them now, because if even one of those NO votes had been a YES, I’d still be working for someone else and wishing for the career I have now. Rejection was my friend."

Rejection can be a stepping stone.

Rejected by literary agents, Sheila Rodgers' self-published mysteries went on to sell one million copies.

Rejection is usually not about you: True Story #2

When I was a child slogging through the slush pile at Bantam, one of the editors was having an affair with a hotshot publishing executive, older guy, quite glam. He was married, natch, but that didn't stop him from being possessive and very jealous.

She lived in the Village near a bar that served really good hamburgers. There was also a poet, a fixture in the nabe. The reigning Crown Prince of Rejection, he couldn't get his poetry published no matter how hard he tried. He was a real sad sack, but a nice guy who became a community project: people gave him money, brought him food, treated him to meals, oozed sympathy at his tales of woe at the hands of clueless publishers.

Anyway, my friend is walking home from work one evening, runs into the poet and invites him for a hamburger. They're sitting in a booth along a wall of windows having their burgers when along comes Mr. Hotshot Exec. He takes one look, gets the (erroneous) picture. He waits until my friend and the poet leave the bar, he goes up to the poet and, without a word, takes a swing at him, sending him sprawling to the sidewalk. Exec, crazed with jealousy, hurls a curse and barrels off.

My friend helps the poet up. Poet brushes himself off, looks at her and shakes his head. "I don't know why people don't like me," he says.

As I said earlier, most of the time it's nothing personal.

Even NYT bestsellers get rejected: True Story #3

I once got a form rejection letter for a book (Husbands And Lovers) while it was on the NYT bestseller list. No kidding.Who knows why? I don’t and never will. My agent and I laughed our asses off and I went back to my computer and continued working on my next book.

You should do the same.

PS: No, it’s not just us. 

From "unsaleable and unpublishable" and "this author is beyond psychiatric help" to "boring" and "this will set publishing back 25 years" here are the brutal rejection letters of some of the bestselling books of all time.

How about you, Scriveners? Do you keep copies of your rejections? What was the most head-scratching rejection you ever got? Do you feel that a rejection has ever had positive results for you? We'd love to hear your stories in the comments!


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The Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, Managed by Australian Book Review. Entry fee $20 (AUS). First prize of $5000 and supplementary prizes of $2000 and $1000. Stories must be 2000-5000 words. Deadline May 1st.

Writer's Digest Writing Compeition. This is their biggie. First prize is $5000 plus your photo on the cover of Writer's Digest. Entry fees are a little pricey at $25 for a story, $15 for a poem but there are lots of big prizes. Categories for many genres of fiction, Creative nonfic, essays, screenplays, and poetry. Early Bird deadline May 4th.

The Vestal Review is looking for FLASH FICTION. Submissions are accepted February-May for the Vestal Review, the oldest journal devoted exclusively to flash fiction. 500 words or less. Humor is a plus. Pays $$ plus copies.

CANADIANS! The Kobo First Book Contest is for you! Did you publish your first book in 2014? Do you have a Canadian passport? You could win $10,000! Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction and Non-Fiction categories. Winners will be announced in June. Deadline March 31.

Chronicle Books Great Tumblr Book Search Do you have a Tumblr blog you think would make a good book? Here's the contest for you! Categories are ART, FOOD & DRINK and HUMOR. Deadline March 2nd. 

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Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Rejected it after it had already been published and was on the best seller list? That would've been a tough one NOT to respond to.
Being a PITA is the only thing you can really control on that list.

February 22, 2015 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

Rejection can also be for missing craft elements. I'm taking a short story workshop from two editors (both award winning), and one of the screening methods they used was to see if setting or the five senses was missing. It's an important part of the character, and character is what the reader comes to the story for. Yet, I've heard many, many times over the years, writers say, "I don't like description. I'd rather let the reader imagine it." Not only is it a complete cop-out, the writer is giving up his/her control of the story, when they should be taking control instead.

February 22, 2015 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 22, 2015 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Ann Best said...

You women are amazing. Incredibly excellent writers, both of you. I want to read Modern Women!

This post was like reading a suspense novel. What's next...what's next... All of this is so very interesting...and true. I followed the brutal rejection letters link. Those of us who have been around a long time, as I have, know most of these. So fascinating. Thank you for a great Sunday post that brightened my snow-filled day.

February 22, 2015 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Linda—Thanks! Missing craft elements like poor characterization come under the "basics" paragraph up top. Writers who don't want to learn the abc's of their craft won't get far.

February 22, 2015 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Ann—Thank you for the flattering words! Rejection comes with the territory and I hope this post will help put it into perspective.

February 22, 2015 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Natalie Aguirre said...

This is all very interesting, especially the one involving the publisher not liking your agent. I had no idea that ever occurs. I think this is another example of how subjective the whole agent & publisher world really is. We should keep it all in perspective and not take it personally.

February 22, 2015 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Alex—I rolled my eyes at that one for sure! Besides, I have a très noir sense of humor so this turn-down made a great story, one I have savored for years.

You're right about PITA-ness! All the rest is completely out of the writer's hands. And, often enough, out of the editors' hands as well.

February 22, 2015 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Great post -- I particularly appreciate #6, which I haven't previously heard before, but can imagine quite easily. Brava to another fine post.

February 22, 2015 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Natalie—Thanks and, you're right about not taking a rejection personally. As to the publisher not liking a particular agent, it's usually more about not liking/wanting to work with each other for a whole variety of reasons.

February 22, 2015 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

CS—Thanks! :-)

February 22, 2015 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Ruth, I always enjoy your posts and this one is no exception. Love your sense of humor. That's one thing I try to never forget. You need a sense of humor in this business. Paul

February 22, 2015 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Paul—You are so right. You can cry—or you can laugh. It's all about humans and human folly. None of us is exempt.

February 22, 2015 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Great post. I was surprised by the possible agent dilemma. Of course he/she isn't going to admit to having character flaws. How would one know? I went to the link with famous rejections. Very enlightening and encouraging. Sometimes those in the know just...well...don't know.

February 22, 2015 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Christine—Thank you. Yep. As William Goldman famously said about the movie business: "No one knows anything." Applies to publishing, too, and probably a lot of other enterprises as well. Did anyone turn down Microsoft software when Bill Gates was starting out? Don't bet against it.

February 22, 2015 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Rosalyn said...

This is so fascinating. Having (just barely) survived submissions hell, it's fascinating to see what might have been on the other side of those no's.

February 22, 2015 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Kessie said...

The one about editing scares me. One of the reasons I hope for trad pub someday is to get the full editorial experience--it's like weightlifting for writers. But if that's not a thing anymore ... Yikes!

February 22, 2015 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

Ruth, what a wonderful column! I'm sharing this with my Crafting a Novel students. I once was told after the fact that I didn't get a writing job because I looked too much like the editor's ex wife. Such is life.

February 22, 2015 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Sandra Hutchison said...

Ugh, this gives me a most unpleasant memory of my own days as an acquisitions editor. I think almost all of those reasons happened in my office-- my least favorite being the company-mandated slow down in acquisitions, followed by a poor review for not making my quota (!). The thing is -- even a book already acquired can end up DOA because of any of this. It makes self-publishing that much more attractive, no matter how much more challenging it can be.

February 22, 2015 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Rosalyn—Thanks! Glad you survived! :-)

February 22, 2015 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Kessie—Unfortunately, editors today are way overworked now that staffs have been cut. That isn't to say that a writer will *never* find good editing but it's more realistic not to expect it. Preferably, hire your own editor so that your ms is as polished as possible before you start showing it.

February 22, 2015 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Melodie—lol Perfect! You've put the whole deal into perspective. No one should take rejection very seriously. It's just *that* random.

February 22, 2015 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Sandra—Sounds like your experiences as an editor echo mine. The no-win Catch-22 you mention is an unlovely side-effect. Sorry you went through this but I understand completely.

February 22, 2015 at 3:11 PM  
OpenID aesiraki said...

Hi Ruth,
Great insights in this post--another thing I find a lot of writers struggle with is bringing an entitled view to their work, which is to say they believe their work "deserves" to be published because of the years they spent years on it. That's all well and good, and many manuscripts *do* take a long time to polish before they're publishable, but I feel a big part of the equation is the writer's attitude and how they approach rejection. As you said, it can be viewed as an opportunity and can be good no matter how painful it is at the time.

February 22, 2015 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger florence cronin said...

Ruth ... thanks so much for this post. It's the kind of thing we want to save and read every single time we get rejected or begin to talk ourselves out of going forward.

I smile every time I think of the publishers who rejected Harry Potter. King and Rowling are only two of the biggest names we know. I am sure there are dozens more that have caused publishers to cringe after the fact :)

February 22, 2015 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Eiry said...

Thank you so much for the article. Oddly, instead of being horrified at the publishing world, I've been really cheered.

February 22, 2015 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

aesiraki—Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Yes, opportunity presents itself with many faces, some not always immediately recognizable.

February 22, 2015 at 4:13 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

florence—Hi and thanks! You just smile? Why not cackle? lol ;-)

February 22, 2015 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Eiry—Thank *you.* I meant this post to be encouraging and I'm glad it cheered you up. As it should. :-)

February 22, 2015 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks Ruth, for this. When I sent out my first two novels, they were received very well, but rejected for #1 the "glut" and #2 I had no vampires. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I went the self-publishing route and although it's taken a few years, I've finished my Regency series (just this morning) and hope to start another one this fall. I don't have to wait to publish, I have a fantastic editor, and cover designer, and I don't have to include whatever creature/angel/demon is hot right now. And I don't have to worry about whether or not the company is going to fold halfway through the series, if they'll want book 4, or if my agent is a PITA. Sure the panache of saying, "I'm published with the Big 5" would be great, but I'd rather say, "I have my own company." Thanks for reminding me why I'm glad I stopped querying.

February 22, 2015 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

Hi Ruth- late to the party again, but the posts here are required reading and better late than never. Or so I find myself saying, more and more often these days...

Many of those reasons scared me because I hadn't considered them and because, from the writer's PoV they look exactly the same as "you stink". I think the thing I have to learn about rejection is NOT "don't take it personally" so much as "don't let it stop you". Getting steamed and cursing a blue streak is good for the circulation! I've taken a few days off after a one-line rejection from agents and who knows or cares why. Just don't give up and don't try to write when you're mopey or mad. Give it some time to not kill you and then get stronger. I can't imagine batting an eye at a one-line form rejection today. I can hardly imagine submitting, truth to tell. But trad-pub needs to get a lot more right a lot more often, and they've got less time left than I do.

February 22, 2015 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

I was a serious newbie when I got an interesting rejection. I did all the proper things in sending out my manuscript along with the query letter to a West Coast publisher. Thing was all nice, neat, tidy, organized (almost anally so). I got the ms back in what can only be described as a hazardous dump. It looked like it was actually jammed/crammed/stuffed/spindled/folded into the large envelope along with the form rejection letter.

That one was most memorable rejection.

On the other end of the spectrum, I got my book accepted by a publisher on the 13th query.

February 22, 2015 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Leanne Dyck said...

I didn't keep my first batch of rejection letters. They were too painful. Now I keep them all.
The best rejection letters are the ones that come in the form of handwritten notes. These point out details in my manuscripts that need improving.

February 22, 2015 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—Yay and thank you! Love your "I have my own company" retort. Brava!

February 23, 2015 at 3:58 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Wm—Your advice—don't let it stop you—is excellent! Turning rejection into motivation is a positive, creative response and entirely appropriate, especially considering the upheaval in publishing.

February 23, 2015 at 4:01 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

G.B.—As a neat freak myself, I would furious at such a disrespectful response. So pleased to hear you experienced the "lucky 13" kiss!

February 23, 2015 at 4:05 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Leanne—Thanks for taking the time to comment. You made an excellent point about viewing rejection as a way to improve. Other writers would do well to adopt your approach.

February 23, 2015 at 4:07 AM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

Insofar as virtually no agent has bothered to reply to my queries, I can boldly say I haven't been rejected in quite a while. This means I'll continue to self-publish. The odds are poor, but then again the odds aren't so hot for those who get the nod.

February 23, 2015 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Barry—lol Congratulations! You're a man with true perspective!

February 23, 2015 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Daniel Steiminger said...

Thank you for the mention Ruth about my book cover designs. I look forward to working with any potential clients from this wonderful group of people.

February 23, 2015 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Daniel--Thanks for stopping by. I'm the one who does the "opportunity alerts" so it's me that put your info there. I love your work!!

February 23, 2015 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Ronovan Writes said...

Hello Anne,
Would you mind if I shared a link to this on my site LitWorldInterviews? I wish I could talk you into a guest post for the site!!! (I wonder if enthusiasm works?) Hmm. Um, I am sure the Indie Authors that frequent the place will get a lot out of this. I always think whatever is good for a traditionally published author is just as good and perhaps even more important in some ways to the Indie Author. Quality is a must! Thank you for your time and a great article. I loved it. AND I GOT THE BOOK!

Much Respect

February 23, 2015 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Ronovan Writes said...

And yes, I did mean Anne. But I would love a guest post from Ruth as well. :)

February 23, 2015 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ronovan--We always welcome links! (They're great for SEO.)

This post was written by Ruth Harris. Her contact info is on the "contact us" page. If you'd like her to guest post for you, just shoot her an email!

It's true that Indie authors need to learn about rejection too. Getting a book accepted by a book reviewer or a big bargain newsletter like BookBub can be as tough as getting an agent or a contract with the Big Five and you have to deal with the same kind of rejection.

February 23, 2015 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Ronovan Writes said...

Actually I would like you, Anne, to do a guest post if you would. Any topic is great. I love your blog and found it through Author D.G. Kaye who tweeted the article.

February 23, 2015 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

This was an enjoyable post.Love the stories. I did have to look up PITA though. :)

February 23, 2015 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Southpaw—Glad you enjoyed the post. I'm also delighted to learn that I've contributed to expanding your familiarity of acronyms. The quest for knowledge never ceases. ;-)

February 24, 2015 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger lionmother said...

I really enjoyed this post. However, I recently had my ms. rejected in person before it was submitted by both an agent and an editor. We met at a workshop and they didn't want to critique my whole ms. But the three chapters they did read they told me they wouldn't take. The reason being that I didn't put enough emotion into the story. They didn't feel enough about the character. I'm not so sure I would have had such a personal rejection if I had just subbed it in the slush pile. So there is another way you can be rejected, though this was a very unusual circumstance. On the good side, they liked it enough that if I could fix this problem they wanted to see it again.

February 24, 2015 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

lion mother—Thanks! An encouraging rejection is … encouraging. Use it well!

February 24, 2015 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Bernardo Montes de Oca said...

Rejection, like any other business, can happen because of many different reasons. What this tells me is that the writer has to focus on every step of the way before actually sending the query and if rejection happens, take it like it is: just an opinion. I enjoyed every single line of this article. Wonderful!

February 24, 2015 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Bernardo—Thank you for the very kind words! You make an excellent point when you compare publishing to other businesses. A rejection, like any other business decision, should not be taken personally because, most of the time, many different factors come into play.

February 25, 2015 at 4:40 AM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

So generous to share these points because I think we writers need all the reminders possible to not take every single rejection so personally!

February 26, 2015 at 4:36 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Nina—Thank you. I've been on every side of rejection as a writer, an editor, a publisher and wanted to help people understand that there are many reasons a book is rejected that have nothing to do with the book. Other factors over which no one has much or even any control constantly come into play. Writers who take rejection personally are often completely misunderstanding the business. Too bad because so much time and angst are wasted that way!

February 26, 2015 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger LD Masterson said...

It's funny, in a previous job I was responsible for hiring new staff. Many of the ten reasons your listed could translate to why people didn't get hired, too. I guess some things are universal.

February 27, 2015 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

LD—Thanks for your help in putting rejection into perspective!

February 27, 2015 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Daniel Steiminger said...

Thank you Anne. You are too kind :)

February 27, 2015 at 11:51 PM  
Blogger Dan Arnold said...

This was simply the best article on the subject I've ever had the pleasure to read. You managed to be encouraging-while listing ten (10) things unrelated to the writer's work that could cause a rejection. I appreciate you taking the time to share these in such an up-beat way. The take aways are as varied as the writers who read your blog.
Thanks again.

March 2, 2015 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Dan—Thank you! Anne and I try to "keep it real" for our readers. :-)

March 2, 2015 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was a wonderful post! I really loved the "behind the scenes" look at the publishing world. It certainly puts things in perspective!

March 16, 2015 at 7:19 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Elizabeth—Thanks for the flattering words! Perspective helps, doesn't it? :-)

March 16, 2015 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Tammy Gibaud said...

I don't know how exactly, but I think #6 can be a little bit within our control.

April 2, 2015 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Tammy—Thanks for taking the time to comment. Problem is, if people are determined to keep secrets, they can make it difficult for outsiders to unearth them.

April 2, 2015 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Seckman said...

Love the story of the poet. That's just simply awesome.

Thanks for such a fun, uplifting post.

April 6, 2015 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Elizabeth—Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the poet's story! Poor guy.

April 6, 2015 at 11:48 AM  

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