Nancy's Books

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rejection Letters/Revision/Character Development/Call for Submissions

In the world of manuscript submissions, two simple facts haunt writers of every genre:

Fact #1: Rejection pierces the skin and goes straight to the psyche like a poisoned arrow.

Fact #2: Prepare to be pierced.

If you submit manuscripts to publishers, you will receive rejection letters. The sting of rejection is so painful some writers quit writing altogether. Others fuss and fume but go right back to stringing together more words.

I’ve had two manuscripts accepted without receiving a single rejection: Happy Birthday, the Story of the World’s Most Popular Song and Trouble in Troublesome Creek. Both were requested by editors I’d worked with, and both required at least a couple rounds of revision. I’ve collected enough rejection letters from manuscripts of my published books to wallpaper my house; yet the stories eventually went to press.

If a rejection letter, or a basketful of them, takes a heavy toll on your emotional state, just remind yourself that Dr. Seuss and Stephen King collected a few rejections of their own, so you’re not in bad literary company. Most of all, realize that YOU were not rejected, the manuscript was. But why was the manuscript rejected? Could a rejection, or a series of rejections, shed light on the reason?

In today’s downtrodden economic climate, many publishers are not responding to unsolicited manuscripts, period. For those that respond, even with a one-size-fits-all form rejection, I give them a hearty thank you. Sometimes those form rejections have a written comment or two. For those, I give a heartier thank you, thank you, thank you. So why am I so thankful for a rejection of my manuscript? Actually, I’m not thankful for the rejection, but the acknowledgement, since I now know more about my manuscript.

Parts II and III of my article, From Rejection to Reflection to Selection, will follow the next two weeks.

Grab Bag

Teachers, gather an assortment of small items, such as marbles, pens, and ribbons, and place in a bag. Each student reaches into the bag and pulls out three items. The goal is to write a story about a character who treasured these items. Consider the following:
A. Why were the objects were important to the character?
B. Where did the character live?
C. Did the character need the objects to survive?
D. Did the object have monetary or emotional value or both?

Call for submissions:

"*The Christmas Spirit* is a book project contracted with St. Martin's Press for the fall of 2011, but they want the completed manuscript by the spring of 2010. Debbie Macomber has agreed to write the foreword. We seek *true* stories that emphasize the significance of the Christmas season. We get caught up in the busyness of the season--the shopping, the family drama, and the event planning, and we lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Sometimes, what some call a twist of fate, we're able to step back and grasp the real meaning of Christmas and our lives are enriched. These are the kind of stories we want." Pays: "a $50 honorarium and at least one free copy of the book." Deadline: May 1, 2010. Visit for more info.


  1. Hi Nancy. I was thinking your grab bag idea might be a great way for someone to work through writers block. Have a bag or box of items ready for when you find you don't have anything to write. Pull out some items and start writing!

  2. I've presented this in writing workshops and attendees love it. You're right, it works and works well.

  3. Thanks for the great information, Nancy.

  4. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog, Amy.