…to encourage those of you wondering if you would ever get published.
I’m not sure how I missed it, but apparently a man submitted chapters of some of Jane Austen’s most popular novels to various agents and publishing companies back in 2007. The response? Mostly a great number of rejections.
This article highlights the story and explains that David Lassman hand typed the first two or three chapters from some of Austen’s works including the most famous, Pride and Prejudice. Lassman changed only character and place names. Of the various publishing houses he submitted to, he received no reply from several houses and varying responses along the lines of the work being original but not publishable.
Only one agent bothered to write back that he might check his copy of Austen and not plagiarize.
Honestly, you should read the article to get the full effects. I laughed when I saw just the title, and the concept is fantastic.
I’m writing this as encouragement. I know everyone always cites authors such as J.K. Rowling and Stephen King as examples of well-known authors who faced multiple rejections in their bids to be published. But the truth is, that doesn’t really encourage me.
What does encourage me is knowing that there are still amusing moments in publishing. When publishing companies don’t even recognize the opening lines of some of the books they’re currently publishing, I think it’s quite entertaining, almost enough to break out the popcorn!
So when you’re wishing that agent hadn’t rejected you or wondering if you’ll hear back from a certain publisher, just remember: at least you’re not blatantly plagiarizing the classics! (And if you are, let me know. I wanna hear about your experiences getting published!)
I know this was short, but it’s been a long day of work and cleaning. I feel rather nasty, actually, and my poor room is still a disaster zone. (They haven’t called in reinforcements cause I finally managed to make a walking path to the door.)
In any event, I hope you all got a chuckle out of this post, and let me know what you think.
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I’ve trumped up topic after topic with no success. Everything is either too boring, too cliche, too overdone, or too much information for me to wade through. I’ve rejected every last bit of it with nary a look back.
And that’s only in topics to post about today.
Holly Lisle? Seen posts and forum topics on her amazing website for ages. I’ve joined her email list, but I haven’t begun to browse the website and don’t have any opinion on it yet.
Absolute Write? Well, I haven’t even joined there, so I definitely have no opinion on that.
Post about another blog? I would, but I’m not sure how much linkage I want to do today, and I don’t think I’d do any blog justice if I were to do that.
Review a book? I could, but then what would I do during the week? Besides, I haven’t finished reading The Luxe or If I Perish yet, and those are the only two books I’m currently reading.
Each idea is tossed, trashed, thrown out to be burned.
Just like that novel you submitted to the agent six months ago.
You lovingly crafted it. Every painstaking moment was filled with anticipation. You outlined the plot, wrote the vital stats on all your characters, developed the world they would inhabit, and then the writing began. You chose from a myriad of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and *gasp!* even adverbs. Each chapter was an adventure, each scene was a dance. The words sometimes flowed, sometimes stalled.
Eventually you passed that dangerous place called the introduction where the majority of aspiring novelists would give up. But not you. Your story begged and pleaded for a life of its own, and you breathed that life into the pages you filled. The intro melted into the exposition; exposition churned into climax; climax fell into denouement. Before you knew it, the ending filled the last pages.
It was breathtaking. This creation that only you could have written was worth every moment of worry that the main character was going to get himself killed, every time you ripped your hair out in frustration at a scene that didn’t end quite right, every chance you took on deviating from the original plan. Now it was complete.
Now it was time to edit.
Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. First drafts became second, seconds became thirds. Adverbs were plucked with care. Verbs modified to express more action. The plethora of nouns and pronouns were worked seamlessly into the drafts, and continuity errors were fixed.
Six drafts later, your baby was all grown up and ready to get a job.
Lovingly you searched for those agents that would treat your baby with care. You vetted the lists and vetoed the ones who were not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, were focusing on non-fiction for now, were on hiatus in their work. You searched and breathed agents and guidelines for days.
When you finished, you broke into the sweet smile of success. All this work, all the preparation had led to this moment. Putting the finishing touches on the query letter, you submitted it to the agents in your list. Perhaps one requested a query with the first three chapters, the other an excerpt, and several only a query. Either way, you followed the rules to the letter, went through the proper channels, and submitted your baby for the first big interview.
One or two responded with outright rejections, but it didn’t matter. It burned, but they only had a query synopsis to go on. You knew they wouldn’t understand true genius from a mere synopsis. It would take a little more effort for them to see how truly exceptional your writing was.
One requested a partial. You warmed to the idea, sent the partial, and counted the days to a response. The interest was there. Your heart beat as you opened the email from the agent. The coveted request for a full manuscript was finally in your inbox. With all haste you attached the final draft and sent it off to the agent.
Rejected. A personal note but still a rejection. And on this beautiful work of art you created by hand and made certain was almost error-proof. Your heart sank, and a few tears stung at your eyes as you balled up your fists.
I spent the night rejecting ideas. They flitted through my brain and back out again without consequence. It’s not with the same care that an agent goes into in picking out the next book he’ll try to sell, but it’s with the care of knowing that I have an audience and want to write with some clarity to those people who read these humble posts of mine.
A novel and a blog post spawn from ideas. The funny thing about ideas? They don’t care if you reject them. That novel your favorite agent turned down? It had no opinion on the woman, even if you thought she was giving a cop-out excuse by saying she wasn’t certain it would sell well to your target market. The idea to write a post about Holly Lisle? It doesn’t mind a delay for me to make an opinion on her site.
Rejection is, unfortunately, a fact of life. I haven’t experienced the crushing rejection of an agent saying my manuscript needs work, lacks believable characters, or simply doesn’t cut muster yet. I am, however, expecting it.
And I’m also preparing for it. Unless an agent directly takes an author to task on a personal level what that agent is rejecting is the writing, which is an idea. So when I get that inevitable rejection, despite the fact it will hurt, I’ll simply remind myself the agent was rejecting my idea, not me.
It never gets easier, even on a personal level. But it does help to dissect what a person is rejecting, and this is true for personal and writing rejections. Once again, it’s true that there’s always something to learn from a situation, even if that situation is rejection.
Anyway, I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to post this, but I do hope it made sense. How do you cope with rejection? I’d love to know.
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I surf the NaNo forums a lot these days, and I found this post yesterday that caught my eye. The author, to make a long story short, has managed to write a novel for the Christian world, but of course, she can’t seem to find a place where her novel fits. The reason for that: somewhat in the neighborhood of 90% of all Christian fiction these days has an element of romance in it. The publishing houses are loving it, and the majority of Christian fiction readers are women apparently, so they continue to publish period romances and coming-of-age tales of innocence and romance.
I have no problem with that, but it was what the poster wrote in addition to her publishing woes that really surprised me. Apparently a lot of Christian publishing houses are asking authors and those who would otherwise submit unsolicited manuscripts to instead send them to one of three “holding tanks” for manuscripts.
The first is a place called Christian Manuscript Submissions and is billing itself as a place for authors to get exposure for their manuscripts to a number of high end Christian publishers. Normally this would excite me. A place for someone like me to submit a manuscript where it will be viewed by publishers? That’s every writer’s dream.
Yes, for only $98 you can submit your manuscript to this website’s system where it will be made viewable to their affiliated publishers! (For six months only, of course, and then you’ll be required to renew your term of viewing by paying another $98 for a second six months of visibility.) And if you’re really dedicated to getting your novel out there? Pay another $300 for a critique by one of the company’s readers, guaranteeing you either a bronze, silver, or gold medallion on your novel and more visibility to publishers.
Well, what’s the point of doing that when I can pay an equivalent amount to get someone at CreateSpace or Lulu to edit my manuscript for me? Then I can choose my marketing and publishing packages and self-publish to my heart’s content, free in the knowledge that I’m at least getting published after spending all that money.
The same kind of services are offered at another Christian manuscript holding tank. This one, The Writer’s Edge, is a little different in that they screen book proposals and the first three chapters of a manuscript. You send in your chapters via snail mail along with a check. The service is completed, and if they like your manuscript and feel it fits their criteria and the image their company looks for, they’ll change your proposal to fit their readers’ critiques, post it to their website, and let their cadre of publishers sift through the books they feel are worthwhile.
The problem I’m seeing with both these services is that they don’t offer any hope that you’ll really get published. Even if you get through The Writer’s Edge screening process, it’s likely you’ll be dropped into a report with a dozen like-minded authors and set on some publishing agent’s desk only to be ignored like so much dross. To me, I think that’s a genuine waste of my money. I’d prefer to spend money on stamps for the elusive query that can be sent out to multiple agents. At the very least, if I secured an agent for my book, I’d be assured that the person would be looking for a publisher for me. These services don’t care one way or the other whether their authors get published. Authors are paying them.
I’ve read in places it’s best not to submit manuscripts to places where you have to pay, so why are publishers asking authors to do this? Sure, if it were a free holding tank for authors that publishers could go to, that’s a whole different ballgame. I’m sure they’d get thousands upon thousands of manuscripts, and it’d be the same thing as a regular slush pile any publisher deals with. But is paying $98 to get a manuscript on a list really going to do me that much good when the publisher’s more likely to look at Joe Blow on the next page with the bronze medallion next to his work since he paid the $300 to get it reviewed?
Now this last company that was listed by the NaNo-er is actually a branch off Harper-Collins, a publisher most people will recognize. The group is called Authonomy, which is a play off the author’s autonomy, I’m sure. What Authonomy does is different from both groups listed above, and it gets me even harder than those two.
First, Authonomy is free, so of course, there are a lot of people already publishing there. What it encourages is authors to put up at least 10,000 words of a manuscript for perusal by the other members there. Members read, comment, and occasionally “shelve” the books they enjoy. If a book gets “shelved” enough times, it goes to a higher position in relation to the other books.
If I’m recalling what I read correctly, the top five books with the highest number of shelves are sent to the editors’ desks at Harper-Collins where they’re read and reviewed. Of course, this doesn’t say anything about possible publishing, and really , Harper-Collins has said they expect to find good new talent through this service. But there’s no guarantee anyone from the company will ever read an excerpt of your work, especially as it’s the readers who are doing the choosing for the publisher.
Authonomy asks that you have as complete a manuscript as possible, allows you to upload 10,000 words to the entire novel, and lets you attach a piece of coverart for your novel. There are a number of genres you can submit the novel to, and once it’s up, you can start receiving comments from the number of readers that are already a part of the site.
I noticed as I perused some of the books listed that a lot of the authors are using this mainly as a tool to get noticed. The comments ranged from very constructive to “this was great – please check out my book.” The only reason I’d put my book on the site in all honesty was if I were self-published and looking for a little more exposure as Authonomy allows authors of self-published works to include links to their sales websites.
In any event, I’ve heard from a lot of people that something like Authonomy is bad juju if you’re wanting to get published. Anything a publisher thinks is already published, even if it’s e-publishing, can potentially get you dismissed as an author. It’s why I never put my novel up on my LiveJournal account. So what does that say about Authonomy?
Thoughts? Opinions? I’d love to hear it cause this is making me curious. Personally I’m staying away from any of these websites for now. (Not that I have a Christian manuscript to submit to the first two, but you know what I mean.) What does everyone else think?
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