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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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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, November 15, 2015

Catherine Ryan Hyde on Rejection: Does Your Rejected Work Need a Rewrite?

Rejections. We all get them. In fact, there are only two things we can absolutely count on in the writing business: rejections and bad reviews.

There's no doubt rejections make us feel terrible. As Brian Doyle wrote in Portland Magazine and was quoted in Letters of Note, "To receive one is to instantly and all at once have one's hopes dashed, confidence thinned, and mood dampened."

They devastate us all, no matter where we are in our career. But we have to be careful not to let them derail our careers, or mess with a perfectly good manuscript.

We have to remember a rejection usually reflects only one person's opinion, which doesn't mean anything about its quality.

Agent Pam Howell once told me, "I hate white chocolate, so if you send me white chocolate, I'll reject it. But that doesn't mean it's bad white chocolate."

Think of it this way: if your work is strong enough to get a positive emotional response from one reader, it will trigger a negative response in another. People are different. No artist can please all of the people all of the time.

The truth is, any writer who hasn't received a rejection or a bad review is simply a beginner who hasn't tried to publish anything.

At the Central Coast Writers Conference in September, we all got a big wake-up call from a panel of highly successful screenwriters: it turns out novelists have it EASY. We only get rejected by agents and editors and the occasional reviewer. Screenwriters get rejected hourly—by the actors, the director, the producer, even the gaffer...and of course, the writer who's been brought in to "fix" your script. Everybody working on a picture is always asking for rewrites.

That helped us put things in perspective.

And the truth is the more successful authors are, the more rejections and bad reviews they'll have racked up. Superstar author Catherine Ryan Hyde has a ton. She's the author of  28 (and a half) books. She's had one made into a major motion picture, and she's hit the bestseller lists at the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon. She's a true "hybrid" author who was published by the Big 5 for decades (S & S, Knopf, and Doubleday), then went indie, then landed in what might be the sweet spot in publishing today, Amazon imprints (Lake Union, Encore and Crossing.) 

She's even been the #1 author on Amazon—knocking J.K. Rowling off her perch at #1 in the Cuckoo's Calling summer of 2013.

So when you want to find out what rejection really means, Catherine can give us the skinny. And it turns out it doesn't mean all that much.

I know so many good writers who decide they need to entirely rewrite their books after a few rejections, or they dump a story in a drawer and never look at it again because it failed to find a home or hook an agent after a few tries. 

Some writers even keep their work buried in their files forever, saying they need to give it "one more polish" because they are so fearful of rejection. 

But if you accept that rejection is part of the process, that it's totally subjective, and that you need to collect a whole lot of them before you'll get a "yes", you're much more likely to succeed


When Pay It Forward Was Rejected

by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This is one of my better rejection stories.

I'm not patting myself on the back here. I'm not suggesting that I just love the way I tell this story. It's more that I have a rating system for rejection stories. The more they completely redefine rejection, the better I like them.

So this is a good one, in my opinion.

This is the one about the agent—not just any agent but my agent at the time—who rejected Pay It Forward.

I was already under contract with her for Walter's Purple Heart, which she had sent out many times, to many rejections. I had already shown her Funerals for Horses (to which she responded, "I love this, but it doesn't work." I'd shed light on that comment if I had any). And now, contractually, I had to show her Pay It Forward when I finished writing it.

But I should mention that I had another agent at the time. Yes, another one. You see, technically, if my agent passes on a novel, I have a right to seek representation for it elsewhere. And I had been approached by a younger, newer, hungrier agent who had read one of my stories in a small literary magazine. (Take notice of this scriveners! You know how I'm always telling you to keep writing short stories? This might happen...Anne.)

Agent #2 was enthusiastic about representing me. Enough so to be willing to take on Funerals for Horses without first right of refusal on any of my other works. And Agent #1 confirmed, with only the slightest prickle in her tone, that so long as I was doing so with full disclosure, I did have that right.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ever heard it said that an author's relationship with an agent is something like a marriage? I always took it to mean that you plunge in thinking life will be beautiful from here on out and in less than a year you've deteriorated into arguing over who has to take out the trash. 

To the extent that having an agent is something like having a spouse, having two agents is a bit like bigamy. You spend a lot of time telling one or the other that she is the only one you truly love, that the other agent means nothing to you. (It was one book. It meant nothing.) As my relationship with Agent #1 began to fray, I could always make Agent #2 laugh by saying, "My other agent doesn't understand me."

Of course, I wanted to give Pay It Forward to my agent who understood me. But I couldn't. She didn't have the "first right of refusal" contract.

I mailed the manuscript to Agent #1 and waited. She called me and left a message. It said, "We need to talk."

Have you ever noticed that after people say, "We need to talk," they never go on to share any good news? Ever? I've noticed that. And I thought maybe you had, too.

I wish she had sent me this in a letter. I would have saved it. And we'd have a merry little laugh over it now.

Short version: she hated it.

She asked me why all the people in it had to be "so awful." I told her I didn’t think Trevor, Reuben and Arlene were awful. She admitted that perhaps awful was the wrong word, but noted that everybody had something wrong with them. They all had problems. (Unlike life, I was thinking, where nobody ever has any issues.) She asked me why nice people couldn't pay it forward to other nice people. (Should I even comment? No. Too easy.)

She got angry because she said I wasn't listening to her suggestions on taking it apart and putting it back together. She was right. I wasn't. Because I knew I wasn't going to take it apart and put it back together. Because I didn't think it was broken.

I asked her to send it, and Walter's Purple Heart, back home to me. And I gave them to Agent #2, who had never sold anybody's first fiction. She went on to make me her first. She and her partner-husband sold my first five novels and three movie deals—including selling Pay It Forward to Simon & Schuster and Warner Brothers films—without revision.

Maybe you think the point of the story is that Agent #1 was wrong. But the point of the story is that there really is no right and wrong in fiction. She didn't like it. That's her prerogative. But I'm awfully glad I didn't believe her, get discouraged, and slide it into a drawer.

Next time you get a rejection, picture the manuscript of Pay It Forward gathering dust in one of my desk drawers. And assume that the next person you ask may offer a wildly different opinion.

...Catherine Ryan Hyde

What about you, scriveners? Have you let rejection get you down? Do you rush to revise your book every time somebody rejects it or tells you it needs to be "fixed"? Are you hiding work in your files because it got rejected a few times? How do you deal with rejection?

Many thanks to Catherine for holding down the fort while I recover from dental implant surgery. For more on rejection from an editor's point of view, see Ruth Harris's post 10 REAL Reasons Your Book Was Rejected.

You can find me on Louise Wise's Wise Words this week.
You can read an excerpt from So Much for Buckingham. It's Camilla Mystery #5, in which the Manners Doctor forgets her manners and responds to an Amazon review of her etiquette guide. Mayhem and murder (and hilarity) ensue.

And don't forget that by next week we should be moved to our new WordPress blog
. Keep your fingers crossed. If you subscribe, the blog you get in your inbox should be from the new site. If you follow by rss feed, you may have to click through from this one...Anne


It goes up to $3.99 on November 20th
It's only on sale in the US and the UK, alas. 
(The Zon's policy, not ours.) 

by Anne R. Allen and #1 bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde

Not just for indies, and not just for authors going the traditional route. This is the book that helps you choose what path is right for YOU.
Plus there's lots of insider information on using social media and dealing with critiques, bullies, trolls, and rejection.


Amazon's Little A Poetry Contest.
 This is a brand new thing. NO FEE The contest will be judged by poets Cornelius Eady, Jericho Brown and Kimiko Hahn. The winner will receive $5,000 in prize money and a publishing contract featuring a $2,000 advance with Little A, Amazon Publishing's literary imprint. Poets who have published no more than one book of poetry can submit their full-length collections for consideration to LittleAPoetry@amazon.com. Deadline Dec 20th 2015

The Poisoned Pencil: New YA publisher open to submissions! The well-known mystery publisher The Poisoned Pen now has a YA imprint. They accept unagented manuscripts and offer an advance of $1000. Submit through their website submissions manager. Response time is 4-6 weeks.

Open call for the Independent Women Anthology: short stories (flash fiction included), poetry, essays, artwork, or any other woman and/or feminist-centered creative work. 10,000 word max. All genres but explicit erotica. $100 per short story, $50 for flash, poetry, and photography/artwork. All profits will be donated to the Pixel Project Charity to end Violence Against Women. Deadline January 31, 2016 with a goal of publication on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

SCHLAFLY BEER MICRO-BREW MICRO-FICTION CONTEST $10-$20 ENTRY FEE. Fee includes a subscription to River Styx literary magazine or one issue depending on amount of entry fee paid. Submit up to three stories of 500 words or less each. All stories will be considered for publication. $1,500 first prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer. Deadline January 1, 2016.

The Writer Short Story Contest judged by Literary star Colum McCann. You can have your work read by the acclaimed author of Let the Great World Spin. $25 entry fee. Write a 2,000-word short story responding to one or both of the quotes below by Mr. McCann: "There is always room for at least two truths." or "With all respects to heaven, I like it here." Deadline December 6th

TETHERED BY LETTERS' FALL 2015 LITERARY CONTEST ENTRY FEES: $7-$15 Currently accepting submissions for short stories (1,000 to 7,500 words, open genre), flash fiction (55, 250, or 500 words), and poetry (maximum of three pages per poem). All winners will be published in F(r)iction. All finalists will receive free professional edits and be considered for later publication. The prizes are $500 short story $150 flash fiction, and $150 for poetry. Multiple entries accepted. International submissions welcome. Deadline December 1.

HAMLIN GARLAND AWARD FOR THE SHORT STORY $20 ENTRY FEE. $2,000 and publication to the top unpublished story on any theme. One story per entry, multiple entries acceptable. Maximum 7,000 words. All entrants will be considered for publication. Deadline December 1.

The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. $10 fee Unpublished fiction. 1500 words or less. Simultaneous submissions ARE welcome. All entries will be considered for publication in Fiction Southeast. (a prestigious journal that has published people like Joyce Carol Oates) Winner gets $200 and publication. Deadline: Dec. 1st

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.

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Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Catherine—Thanks for the sane perspective! To add to the lunacy of rejection, here’s my own best rejection story: my million-copy NYT bestseller, Husbands And Lovers, was rejected (by Dell/Delacourt) *while* it was on the NYT bestseller list. Via an unsigned form rejection letter (than which you can’t get any lower).

Added just so writers know the indignities that lie ahead. ;-)

November 15, 2015 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Yes, but this way they know the indignities don't mean much. Two more quick rejection stories that weren't mentioned above. One, the book was rejected by Dutton before the movie buzz got going. Afterwards all the big NY publishing houses started contacting my agents and asking to see it... including... wait for it... Dutton. I guess their left hand didn't know their right hand had rejected it. Two, my agent went on to sell Walter's Purple Heart to Chuck Adams at Simon & Schuster as a next title to follow PIF, and he was one of the editors who had rejected it before I took it back from agent #1. So it's all pretty subjective, to say the least.

November 15, 2015 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Writing is art and we know how subjective it can be. Just because one person doesn't dig it doesn't mean something is wrong with it. Glad you had a second agent waiting in the wings for those manuscripts.

November 15, 2015 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

Any great story is worth reading, including yours, Catherine, about a worthy tale getting rejected. I love me a happy ending. The subtext screams that Agent #1 became bound and determined to hate PiF since she already knew about Agent #2? At any rate, YOU knew there was nothing that big wrong with it.
I can't imagine where I'd be now if I hadn't compiled a 200% rejection rate from my first forty queries (20 No's, 20 No responses, I call that a double!). I found self-publishing, and shorter works, and my online crit group and eventually my very dear and invaluable micropublisher because of that: without the thundering rejections I got, I'd have a trunk novel and nothing else. Being indie meant I could give myself DEADLINES, which is the only reason I finish anything.
I've decided at least for now that I'm just not man enough to query. Happy over here.

November 15, 2015 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Me, too, Alex, thanks! And I'm also glad that I'd had enough short stories rejected over and over (before going on to find good homes) to know to take it all with a grain of salt. Sometimes I like to go out on Amazon and read the 1-star reviews of Harry Potter or To Kill a Mockingbird, just to remind myself that there is no such thing as a universally loved book.

November 15, 2015 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

I'm just happy that we now live in a world with so many publishing options. I have a foot in all of them (not really possible with only two feet, but you get the idea) but I remember a time when trad was the only game in town. Glad this is not that time.

November 15, 2015 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Catherine I'm so glad you wrote this post. I've heard you speak about rejection before and I completely agree with you. At Mindprints, when we were up and running, I'd often have to write rejection letters but also added a short note that this was one editor's opinion and I was sure his/her work would find a home with the right editor and the right journal. I'm sharing this post because it's such an important one for writers to read at all levels of their careers. Thank you again for these wise words and for sharing your personal story. Anne, get better fast. Paul

November 15, 2015 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

I wish more editors would take the time to do that, Paul. The ones I don't like are the ones who try to tell you what is "wrong" with it, but really they're just telling you what kind of stories they do and don't like. There used to be a magazine--I think it was Boulevard--that had a great rejection process. The editor would cite several things that were good about the story, then end by saying something like, "Unfortunately, however, the decision has gone against publishing it." Simple. Honest. Not making any assumptions about "right" and "wrong."

November 15, 2015 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

My rejection was for a science fiction story I sent to a professional paying anthology. I got a personal rejection for the story, and the editor sent me about three paragraphs of comments about content, the longest I've received. It was clear that he'd read the entire story, and yet, he said that I had picked a clichéd subject. Except that it wasn't; if it had been, he wouldn't have read the entire story! I'm guessing he didn't know why he rejected it, except that the story kept him until the end (which might have annoyed him that it wasn't right for the anthology). I don't go back and revise once the story's done, so I shipped it again. However, if the comments had been about technique, I would have spent a few stories working on the technique.

Also as a note: If you want to get out of the form rejection zone, you have to get away from all the beginning level advice (which is most of the advice out there). A lot of it is bad or just plain wrong; some of it seems to come from writers who want to keep everyone at their level of not published. I'm shocked at the amount that tells writers not to do things--and the absence of these things are very likely to be what's landing form rejections.

November 15, 2015 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Sandra Hutchison said...

This is great advice. I spent a lot of time rewriting my first novel in response to various agents' comments or just second-guessing myself in an attempt to write a book that they would consider not only good but something they could sell. I think it actually got worse with each revision I made that way. I have no regrets about going back to the original final draft, making some other revisions I felt it needed (after I had spent some time away from it), and publishing it myself. With that kind of novel and my kind of (then non-existent) author platform, I don't think that book was going to be considered marketable by anyone. But thousands of reader have enjoyed it, now, and that changes everything. Sometimes self-publishing is worth it just for the opportunity it gives you to believe in yourself. (Having said that, I still recommend that new writers suffer through all those rounds of rejection -- because if agents in your genre aren't even asking to read fulls, that's probably a sign that you have more work to do.)

November 15, 2015 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

You know, I think you've touched on something important here, Linda. A lot of editors don't know why a story didn't quite grab them. It's hard to quantify. So I think a lot of times they are pulling something out of their hat (expletive replaced to be polite) and it's not as meaningful as the author may think.

One thing that drives editors crazy: when they send a nice note of praise about a story (one they had to reject) and receive an indignant note back from the author that says, "If you like it so much, why won't you publish it?" In a world where that never happened (hint: we can all help create such a world) we might hear more heartening praise along the road. Thanks for your input to the conversation. I agree there's a boatload of bad advice out there. No doubt.

November 15, 2015 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

I have no doubt that you're right, Sandra. The novel probably got worse with all those revisions. Reminds me of the old joke about the platypus--that it is an animal created by committee.

Here's my threshold for revision: if an editor points out something, big or small, and I slowly come to realize that I agree. If I don't agree, it really doesn't matter who says it. It has to be my story (or your story) or the author has lost everything worth having.

I tell a story in "How to be a Writer..." about an editor who rejected a story because of what he called a "hollowness" to the characters. It was published on the very next go by the editor of a more prestigious magazine who said I had shown poise in the way I depicted my characters with "brief brush strokes." So imagine if I had revised before submitting again. Too many brush strokes. No first short story acceptance.

November 15, 2015 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Great story, Catherine. I've been entering short story contests of late and, sigh, haven't gotten a darn thing acknowledged. I have to remind myself I have had success in the past and it CAN happen again. I am doing my first major rewrite of an unpublished, several times rejected, novel. Not at anyone's suggestion but my own inner wise (I hope!) writerly self. Thanks for covering for our ailing Anne. Nice to hear your "voice".

November 15, 2015 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Deborah Brasket said...

Thank you, Catherine (and Anne). I really needed to read this, to be reminded how subjective the publishing world can be and to resist the temptation to go back and revise something that I feel is "done." When, after countless revisions, I've honed the story to the point of being told as powerfully as I think it can be, I need to trust my gut and realize that there are other readers out there who will respond to it as I have, and not keep dickering about with it in hopes to lure a different kind of reader into "liking" it. Hard to do, but important, I think. That's not to say that listening carefully to suggestions for revision from others isn't needed, but that at some point we have to trust what we have lovingly and earnestly wrought.

November 15, 2015 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

First I have to say how much I love a writing community that actively supports each other. We know whereof they speak, as you, Catherine, and Anne do. As for re-writes, I come to writing from a real estate sales background, so I've had plenty of experience with rejection. Writing takes it to a whole new level though. After my first two novels were published by a small press, I thought I knew what I was letting myself in for when I began querying agents for my third book in a completely different genre. Despite some wonderfully hopeful requests for fulls and partials from some top agents, I was plunged back into the abyss with the rejections. Although there were many form rejections, I also recieved several that gave similar reasons for the no-goes. I figure when something quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. I was seeing a pattern in the comments, but couldn't figure out how to turn my duck into a swan. When one agent said she loved my story but it needed work and offered to help me, I accepted gratefully. I knew I still had (have) a lot to learn. I took some of her advice and did some major re-writes that I agreed with, and some advice I refused. All in all, I appreciated what that agent was doing - helping me to strengthen my story and characters. Even when she ultimately rejected the final manuscript, I was confident I was closer to a yes than I had been. Several more rejections later, plenty of tears and curses later, and I finally landed an agent who came out of the mist to tell me she loves my work and wants to represent me. Now, I know the hard work is far from over, but the point is that if I'd given up after the first few rejections and slunk away (which would have been incredibly easy to do), I wouldn't be in a position to work on getting this next "baby" out into the world. Rejections can defeat us, or they can teach us something about ourselves. After all, every "No" is one step closer to a "Yes". With all the options open to writers today, it can be easier to hurry to self-publish, but rejections are a trial by fire that can actually help a writer. I guess the key is to trust your gut, be willing to walk through fire, and be ready to learn and improve as you go. Thanks to you and Anne for reminding us we are not alone!

November 15, 2015 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Good to hear from you, too, Christine! I haven't seen you in ages. Not only can it happen, it probably will--if you don't give up. A lot of people give up, and when they do, they say, "It didn't happen." But the truth is just that it hadn't happened yet. One of the most useful attributes a writer can have (IMO) is an almost pathological stubbornness about not giving up and going home.

November 15, 2015 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Exactly. I think you really summed it up well, Deborah. Yes, we need to listen to everything. No, we don't need to accept everything.

One of the most pivotal moments in my career was when I stopped looking at my work and asking, "Is this good or bad?" but instead, "What's the target audience for this? Who would like this kind of story?"

Bottom line seems to be that if we change something we felt in our hearts wasn't broken... well, I've just never seen any good come of that.

November 15, 2015 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

I love what you said here: "I took some of her advice and did some major re-writes that I agreed with, and some advice I refused."

This is what I do every time I go through the developmental editing process, and I have never failed to get a better book out of it. The trick seems to be a willingness to question everything you wrote, but also to stand firm when your gut says you should.

There's a tendency when we're new to think the other person "knows better." That's the other reason I like this story about PIF. Agent #1 had been selling author's books for 25 years. But she didn't "know better" in this case. She just knew her own taste.

November 15, 2015 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Tracy Campbell said...

Catherine, this post was so encouraging. Thank you! And Anne, I hope your mouth heals nicely. :-)

November 15, 2015 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Thanks, Tracy! Encouraging is exactly what I was going for!

November 15, 2015 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Yes, I remember that magazine. Very good practice. There are so many reasons for not publishing a piece like, "Just pubbed a story on the Olympics" or whatever. A lot of variables beyond the writer's control are at play. Thanks again.

November 15, 2015 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Hey Catherine & Anne - thanks for another fine post. Since the world has gone digital, I've stopped collecting rejections, but my old-school 4" binder from the pre-digital era is pretty darn full. When editors/agents say no I try to think of it as my MS coming home (I'm mostly successful with that).

November 15, 2015 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

I used to have two paper boxes (remember those? We used to submit manuscripts in them) full of rejections. I was going to paper a room with them someday but then I realized I'd never have a room the size of two football fields. Now I swear I don't know where they've gone off to. (Oh, PS: Hi Charlie!)

November 15, 2015 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Rosi said...

Terrific post. I enjoyed every word and will be posting the link on my blog. Thanks!

November 15, 2015 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Thanks, Rosi! Much appreciated.

November 15, 2015 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks for your story, Catherine. When I first started querying, I received fantastic comments about my novels--well-written, engaging, true historical accuracy, but was rejected forty times with the first book, and about sixty with the second. They loved the books but couldn't place them. They weren't the "usual" Regency romance. I friend of mine had self-published and I decided if she could do it then so could I. I hit the #1 spot with my second book and stayed there for several weeks, My fifth book went #1 on its debut and again stayed for several weeks. One of my novellas stayed at #1 for nearly a year in a sub-cross-genre.

And of those books, several have one star reviews. I don't feel right if I don't have at least one. You can't please everyone. I write the books I want to read because I know somewhere, someone else will want to read them too.

Anne, I hope you feel better.

November 15, 2015 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

All of my novels have a sprinkling of one-stars, too. Then again, so do all the Harry Potters. All books will get a few if enough people read them. I often read the 1-stars before buying a book, because they give me a chance to see why the people who didn't like it didn't like it. Then I usually go on to decide I wouldn't agree with them and give the book a try. Besides, if I see that a book has 10 or 12 5-star ratings and nothing lower it makes me think they might be fake.

Sounds like you followed just the right path to find your audience. Not all quality books will make it past the trad gatekeepers. I'm very happy that indie is there to catch those authors, especially since a few years ago I was one of them!

November 15, 2015 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

People can be so fickle about what might work or what my work, that sometimes a rejection isn't a knock on you as a writer, but on your work. In my particular case, because I was writing in a format that probably is a very tough sell the traditional way (novella), the rejections I'd received didn't bother me.

In fact, the rejections I got from a few, contained enough advice to improve the product, before ultimately, self-publishing it.

Father Nature's Corner

November 16, 2015 at 3:02 AM  
Blogger Louis Shalako said...

The conventional advice from professional writers is not to rewrite unless you have a signed contract. This is purely academic advice if you never get such an offer. When I publish my own works, I rewrite and edit them until I'm satisfied I can do no better, (admittedly working purely on my own). What's interesting is that you can open up a book or story you did five years ago and find things that maybe aren't very nice. The best thing is to forget it and move on.

November 16, 2015 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

And, oddly, sometimes it isn't a knock on either. I used to edit for two small magazines that published fiction. Sometimes it just meant we had a slight worry about its fit for our readership, or even that we'd published too many first person (or whatever) stories in the last few months. Sometimes it's really not a knock at all. The hard part of being a writer (faced with feedback) is figuring out what to keep and what to throw away.

November 16, 2015 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

I don't disagree with that advice, in that I know what it's trying to say. But, as you pointed out, it's dated to the point of assuming an all-trad world. Plus there are times when you should not make certain revisions even for the promise of publication.

I agree that we need to let go of our older works. I think of each book as a snapshot of where my writing was at the time. If I learn to do better, I'd rather go forward and put it into the next work. Life is too short.

November 16, 2015 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Mandy Wallace said...

Yes! There is so much Truth here! There's no one person who can say your story or work is good or bad. Because everyone has their own opinion. And it comes down, really, to the writer's ability to parse feedback into: yes this feedback is right and would bring my work closer to my vision OR no, this person doesn't get what I'm trying to do and their feedback would take me further from my vision for this particular work.

It's as much about finding the right audience and your right reader than it is about getting whatever you're writing as close to what it's supposed to be as you can get it.

November 18, 2015 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

You definitely have a good grasp on the situation, Mandy. I remember in Anne's and my book telling a story of two old writing mentors of mine, one of whom "got it." He helped you make the work a better example of what he felt you were trying to do. The other was just the opposite, dismissing any fiction that wasn't to his tastes. Problem is, people who can step outside the agenda of their own likes and dislikes are hard to find. But they exist. And meanwhile we can learn to see agenda-driven critiques for what they are.

November 18, 2015 at 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Tai said...

I love this SO much. I'm of the mentality that besides grammar/spelling errors, I do not "fix" my tale according to someone's preference. This is, honestly, purely because I'm too bored/lazy of my already-written story to go through it again, and I'd much rather write a new story than rewrite one. Also, if the editor doesn't like the story, honestly, it's okay, I'm sure another would.

December 2, 2015 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

That's exactly it, Elizabeth. You really seem to "get it." If it's not to an editor's taste/liking, that doesn't mean it's broken. Someone else may like it just as is. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to adjust our work to suit individual reading preferences.

December 2, 2015 at 9:46 AM  

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