I haven’t written a lot about my writing lately, mostly because there’s been nothing to report. The route to publishing is nothing if not slow.
BUT FINALLY I HAVE SOMETHING TO REPORT! Ummm, yeah. One of my manuscripts got rejected.
Bummer. But not unexpected. In April 2012, a Big Romance Publisher offered writers the opportunity to send in a back-cover blurb and first chapter of their novel. They promised to read them and contact writers in which they were interested all in three weeks (thus it was titled a “Fast Track” opportunity).
I was one of the dozen or so who were, from that opportunity, then asked to submit a “partial” (three chapters and a full synopsis). My submission (as you can see over to the right Trust Fall, at various other times it was called Risk of Love and Love & Other Dangerous Stunts) was sent in June 2012.
And to be honest, I only worked on that manuscript because it had been requested, not because that was the story I really wanted to write (I was feeling that way even last year in this post) .
How could I expect someone to want to publish a story I really didn’t want to write?
So basically Big Romance Publisher sent me an R that basically said, “You suck as a writer. Consider doing other things.”
Actually it was this polite, nice letter (in case you wish to read it – I know I have learned from other writers’ rejections):
Dear Ms Crouch,Thank you so much for sending in the partial of Risk of Love and for your great patience whilst we assessed it. We sincerely apologize for the delay in getting back to you; there have been several staff changes recently and as much as we try to avoid it, sometimes things do slip through the cracks.Janie, it’s clear to see how much hard work you have put into this story; you have a lovely, fluid and engaging voice and we very much enjoyed reading it.However, we have regrettably decided not to pursue this project further. The main concern with this particular submission is the characters’ emotional conflict. We really need the reader to fall in love with your hero and heroine and root from them from the first page to the last! The concern is that in these opening chapters, we don’t get much of a sense of who Nikki and Michael really are.In your writing, the most important thing to do is to develop internal conflicts and a strong, emotional connection between the hero and heroine from the start. This should be built on sensual tension and character interaction, and then from using their individual personal issues to further the development of the characters and show how they are inextricably tied together. What might be a useful thing to do before you start writing is to take the time to really think about your characters and plan the emotional arc of your story. It can be useful to think about and map out their whole lives – from when they were born! What is it that has shaped each one into the person they are now? What emotional obstacles will they have to overcome when they meet, in order to be together? What are the turning points of the story going to be – positive and negative? The reader must be able to see what motivates a character to act the way they do – every little thing has to be backed up by a believable, realistic, emotional issue, so always, constantly ask why, why why? Thinking about these kinds of things should start you off on the right track and automatically give you more emotional focus to a story, as well as helping you avoid inconsistencies in their personalities and character. It will also ensure readers can empathize with your hero and heroine throughout the story.Janie, on balance we would suggest that you put this story to one side and, bearing in mind the comments made above, develop a fresh new idea. We’re looking for a contemporary set-up with a strong focus on the couple and three-dimensional characters we itch to turn the pages to keep reading about.We’re sorry to disappoint you on this occasion, but we hope you’ve found this experience useful. Your writing is of a promisingly high standard and we hope you will feel encouraged by these positive comments.Please continue to read as many of our current titles as you can. These provide the best guide to our readers’ tastes.Thank you for your continued interest in [Big Romance Publisher].Best WishesThe Editors
I’ve talked before about the different types of rejections in publishing. The one I received is basically a plug-and-play form letter. But I appreciate that they took the time to put my name and the book’s characters’ names in the correct places. [Update: multiple writer friends have corrected me and said that the above letter is not a form letter. That it is too detailed for that.] Whichever way, it definitely has some nuggets of wisdom. I think it's a cross between the three of these:
Although I, of course, would have rather the editors said: “Please send us your full manuscript ASAP!! We think this is great and can’t wait to read it!” I’m not saddened by this rejection.
I promise, I’m not wallowing. I have two other full books in to editors -- books I think are much better and address many of the issues mentioned in the letter above -- that I should hear back on in the next couple of months. If those get rejected, then I’ll be wallowing.