Nancy's Books

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rejection, Timed writing, Call for submissions

When I think of my early writing days--seven years to land the first contract; five years to get the second one--I realize that being a librarian and working with kids and books on a daily basis is what kept me inspired, along with the driving desire to write and get published. In twelve years I accumulated two contracts and a mountain of rejection letters. My career momentum has shifted to a higher speed since then, but each time I get a contract, a troublesome little question pops up like a jack-in-the-box and squeezes the life out my confidence: Will I ever get another contract? The doubts are there, but I don't dwell on them; instead I start writing a brand new something or other, either a picture or chapter book.

Rejection letters are never easy to read, but can offer some insight into what works in a manuscript and what does not. Ask yourself these questions: Did I target publishers that accept the genre of my manuscript? Did I research each publisher to determine that they did not already have a book on the same subject or presented in a similar format? Publishers don’t want two of their own books to compete in the marketplace. Was my cover/query letter error free? Did I capture the editor’s attention in the first sentence?

Let’s move on to informative rejection slips, those in which a personal note or letter states why the manuscript was not right for the publisher. The reason stated may be so vague you don’t have a clue as to why the story was rejected; however, if the editor took time from a busy schedule to write a personal note, you have made a positive impression. You’re doing something right. Some rejection slips are in the form of a checklist. What area was marked? That information may give a clue as to why your story didn’t work for that publisher.

Some rejection notes state that a similar story was recently accepted. From that information, you can infer that you’re on the right track with the subject matter or type of manuscript. Some may state the story was too slight. That often means the plot was not strong enough. Others may state that they felt no empathy for the main character. Reread the manuscript to determine how the editor came to such conclusions. If you can recognize the problem, you can find a way to fix it.
Part III of my article, From Rejection to Reflection to Selection, will follow next weeks.

Classroom timed writing:
Allow students to select a topic or title or character and give them a minute or two to think about what they will write. Explain that they do not begin writing until you say, “Go.” At that point they will have three minutes [more time if you choose] to write a paragraph. When you say “stop” students place pencils on their desks. Allow them to share their work. Provide additional timed writing sessions throughout they year. Notice how their writing becomes more creative as they become accustomed to writing in a short period of time.

Call for Submissions:

Carolrhoda. April 1, 2010 and ending April 30, 2010, I will be considering unsolicited complete YA [Young Adult] novels for Carolrhoda Lab. I am interested in YA novels only, including realistic, paranormal, dark fantasy, dystopian, etc. I am not interested in high fantasy. We do not publish graphic novels. For details check here.

Friends of Acadia Nature Poetry Competition (no fee)
Postmark Deadline: April 30
Submissions are invited for the 2010 Friends of Acadia Poetry Competition. Established in 1998, this prize is presented biennially to promote and recognize distinctive nature poetry. The three top-ranked poems will be published in the Friends of Acadia Journal. (print and online), and awarded cash prizes by category ($350, $250, $150).
Details at

1 comment:

  1. Although rejection letters are hard to get, they can be used as a learning experience. Just have to sometimes read between the lines to find the information so you can learn from it. : )
    I enjoyed reading your post.