Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ouch! That Hurts!

Rejection. It’s part of a writer’s life.

There are lots of different reasons for a publisher rejecting a manuscript:

1.     They have just published a similar book

2.    They don’t publish picture books (do your research before submitting)

3.    They don’t publish fantasy or mysteries or books about holidays (again, do your research)

4.    Your word length is too long or too short (check those submission guidelines)

5.    Your manuscript is sloppy (spelling mistakes, page layout etc.) – one of the easiest things to correct

6.    Your characters are one dimensional or stereotyped

7.    Your dialogue is flat and lacks sparkle

8.    You rely too much on coincidence

9.    Your opening chapter did not compel the editor to keep reading

10.  You lack a satisfying resolution.

That’s only a start. But you can probably group all rejections into two categories:

1.     Your manuscript is not up the publisher’s standards

2.    Your manuscript does not meet the needs of the publisher.

General George S. Patton said,

          “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”

Rejection definitely feels like hitting bottom.

Here are some rejection stories to encourage you to bounce back:

Agatha Christie had 5 years of rejection before going on to achieve sales in excess of 2 billion (only Shakespeare has sold more)

JK Rowling had 12 rejections for the first Harry Potter book which included the advice to “get a day job because you have little chance of making money in children’s books.)

Louis l”Amour had 200 rejections and ended up with 330 million dollars in sales.

Dr. Seuss was told his book was “too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”

Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 140 times.

L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was rejected 5 times.

Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times for Peter Rabbit that she ended up self publishing. She was later picked up by a publisher and her sales reached 45 million dollars.

Margaret Mitchells’ Gone with the Wind was rejected 30 times.

 Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight was rejected 12 times and ended up being on the New York Times bestseller list for 91 weeks.

The Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times and won the Newbery Medal.

Help by Kathryn Stockett was rejected 60 times.

Alex Haley’s Roots was rejected 200 times and made 1.5 million dollars in sales in its first 7 months.

My record is 26 rejections for a manuscript that is dear to my heart and still unsold. Some of the rejections have included constructive critique and I continue to revise and resubmit.

So, next time a rejection hurts, remember you are not alone!

Monday, April 14, 2014


In an earlier blog I listed some of my favourite opening sentences form kids’ novels. The sentences below come from adult novels and all of them made me want to keep reading. (An added bonus of scanning through the books on my shelves for these opening lines was discovering a lot of old treasures that I want to reread!)

The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.  (The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler)

Ruth remembered drowning.  (Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwartz) 

The world began to fall apart at nine in the evening. (The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell)
The girl was the first to hear the loud pounding on the door. (Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

I seem to have trouble dying. (The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill)

He found the body on the forty-third day of his walk. (Careless in Red by Elizabeth George)

On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother Thomas entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut Public Library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable.
(I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb)

By mistake Larry Weller took someone else’s tweed jacket instead of his own and it wasn’t till he jammed his hand in the pocket that he knew something was wrong. (Larry’s Party by Carol Shields)

It was as black in the closet as old blood. (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

I recall with utter clarity the first great shock of my life. (Trinity by Leon Uris)

I have an ingrained fear of auctions dating back to the third year of my life. (The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat)

This last one is really more than one sentence but it promises you a fun read.

These are my New Year’s Resolutions:

1.     I will help the blind across the road.

2.    2. I will hang my trousers up.

3.    I will put the sleeves back on my records.

4.    I will not start smoking.

5.    I will stop squeezing my spots.

6.    I will be kind to the dog.

7.    I will help the poor and ignorant.

8.    After hearing the disgusting noises from downstairs last night, I have also vowed never to drink alcohol.

(The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend)