Anatomy of three very similar rejection letters

Recently, a friend of mine asked for some help after receiving two very similar rejections letters. Up until this point, she had received many stock “No thanks” responces, or the dreaded crickets in the email (as in no response at all.)

Ugh_Back_to_the_drawing_board

Every few months, she edited and sent out a new set of queries. Then, after getting a few manuscript requests, she received something different. Yes, still rejections, but two days in a row she received rejections with FEEDBACK. Score!

Woa!

I looked over the feedback she was sent by three different agents, and realized the reasons for the rejections were very similar.

Without giving her name, or showing the exact rejections, I am going to cut and paste my analysis of those rejections. Even reading this back to myself after I’d written it, gave me ideas to go back and revise things in my own manuscript.

I hope you find this helpful!

***

Hey you! First of all, YES I believe you read into this correctly. Your writing is so polished that a few people decided you were worthwhile enough to tell you why they decided to pass. So, on that point: CONGRATULATIONS!

All three of these emails confirm that you have an awesome, original concept that they all believe has the power to be a hit. This is the first hurdle everyone needs to overcome. Rock on, girlfriend!

Past this point, you need to prove that the structure and voice are good enough for them to RISK countless hours of their own time to try to sell your work. (Because, hey, if they can’t sell it, they don’t get paid)

Read-hold up PKO_0016876So, this is what I see when I read each email…

#1. “I had a hard time connecting…”

#2. “I didn’t connect with the narrative voice.”

#3. “The narrative wasn’t able to keep me as entranced as the plot would suggest.”

These all said pretty much the same thing, which is AWESOME! Now you know what you need to fix.

“Connection” has to do with VOICE and DEEP POV.

VOICE: You need to ask yourself: Is the voice that I am writing in authentic to my main character? If she is 16, does she sound like a 16 year old? (In spoken word, inner thought, and also in the narrative)Point_of_View2

DEEP POV: Does the overall narrative flow without any bumps that will draw my reader out of the story and remind them they are reading a book? (look for “gentle” show verses tell issues. Look for words like WAS, LOOK, SEE. Check for passive tense.)

 

Basically, you want to hook the reader on the first page and draw them so deeply into the POV of your character that they can’t get out. They forget they are reading, and all of the sudden it’s 6 hours later and they flip the last page. [[Not that I am an expert at this, but every draft I do gets me closer]]

Now, on comment number three: “The narrative wasn’t able to keep me as entranced as the plot would suggest.”Huh

This could be one of two things. Because of the first two comments, I would guess that the issue is voice and/or deep point of view. HOWEVER… it is also possible that there is a pacing issue.

PACING: Does the book lag anywhere? Are the slow parts just slow enough to let the reader take a breath, or are they so long that the reader gets bored? Can you concatenate the slower chapters to give the required information quickly so you can get back to the good stuff?

“I had a hard time connecting with the way the mystery unfolds.” This could also be pacing, but also ask yourself if there is a “build” in your mystery as each stone is unturned. Is the reader DYING to know whodunit?

I’d look over the manuscript again, thinking about each of these topics INDIVIDUALLY. I think you should only work on one of them at a time. (At least that’s what I do) It helps to keep focused, and gives you less of a chance of missing the opportunity to make a good paragraph GREAT if you are trying to accomplish too many types of edits at the same time.

This is probably the most exciting edit you will ever do… the one where little bells will go off in your head as you see the manuscript come to life. Have fun!

[BTW – just writing this has me thinking about my own manuscript, and a couple of things that I want to look at again, so THANKS for the push!]


So, there you have it. Rejection isn’t always bad. I remind myself that Fire in the Woods was rejected quite a few times, and I’d revised over and over before I received two rejections with feedback similar to above.

My next edit after that feedback got me a three book deal!

Keep submitting, and don’t be afraid to edit some more.

Happy_Writing!

.


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Ashes and Fire2You can find Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky at all these awesome bookish places!

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Enter to win a $175 e-gift card to Barnes & Noble!

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Christmas is a time for giving. So her we come a-caroling!

Some of my favorite author-friends and I have banded together to giveaway a $175 e-gift card to Barnes & Noble.
Click on a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter.
Would you like to find out more about the authors behind this giveaway? Jingle on over to their websites.

Julie Reece
Jennifer Bardsley
Jennifer DiGiovani
Melanie McFarlane
Suzanne VanRooyen
Dorothy Dreyer
Shaila Patel
Melanie McFarlane
Suzanne VanRooyen
Liza Wiemer
Nicole Conway
Jennifer Anne Davis
Jennifer M. Eaton

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***Click on a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter!***


And don’t forget to check out all the great book written by your sponsoring authors!

Fine Print:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
1. Promotion Description: The ‘$175 Barnes & Noble Giftcard’ (“Sweepstakes”) begins on 11/28/2016 at 07:00 AM (Pacific Time (US & Canada)) and ends on 12/13/2016 at 08:00 AM (Pacific Time (US & Canada)) (the “Promotion Period”). By participating in the Sweepstakes, each entrant unconditionally accepts and agrees to comply with and abide by these Official Rules and the decisions of Jennifer Bardsley (“Sponsor”), which shall be final and binding in all respects. Sponsor is responsible for the collection, submission or processing of Entries and the overall administration of the giveaway. Entrants should look solely to Sponsor with any questions, comments or problems related to the Sweepstakes.
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– 1 (#) winner(s) will receive [(1) $175 Barnes & Noble e Gift Card ] (approximate retail value or “ARV”: $175 USD)
Only one prize per person and per household will be awarded. Gift cards and gift certificates are subject to the terms and conditions of the issuer. Prizes cannot be transferred, redeemed for cash or substituted by winner. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole and absolute discretion to award a substitute prize of equal or greater value if a prize described in these Official Rules is unavailable or cannot be awarded, in whole or in part, for any reason. The ARV of the prize represents Sponsor’s good faith determination. That determination is final and binding and cannot be appealed. If the actual value of the prize turns out to be less than the stated ARV, the difference will not be awarded in cash. Sponsor makes no representation or warranty concerning the appearance, safety or performance of any prize awarded. Restrictions, conditions, and limitations may apply. Sponsor will not replace any lost or stolen prize items.

 

Using real-life fighter pilot experience in a fantasy novel

My husband’s career as a fighter pilot for the USAF has heavily influenced the DRAGONRIDER CHRONCILES. When I was developing the series and figuring out the angle I wanted to take with Jaevid’s story, he had just begun his training in Wichita Falls, TX. We were young, newlyweds, and since I was raised in a Navy household, I had a very limited understanding of the demands of his training. But we got a crash-course in “Surviving the Military Lifestyle,” which is a book I should probably write sometime later in my life.

 

22542586The training my husband went through was nothing short of life-draining, exhausting, and tested every bit of his resolve. But through those struggles, I saw his strength. I saw him be determined. I saw him at the lowest and highest points, and I eventually saw him achieve his dream of being a fighter pilot. I can’t tell you how beautiful that moment was!

 

So it only made sense to me to put that in a book – Jaevid’s book. After all, what are dragonriders but medieval fighter pilots? 23344338At least, that’s how I translated them into my world! I adapted many of the aspects of my husband’s training to that setting. I wanted to show how they bonded as a brotherhood, and yet how each one of these pilots his held to a standard by the ones who came before them. There is an inherent need in their culture to uphold traditions, to respect those who came before, and to be prepared for the worst possible scenarios. These pilots, male and female, are warriors. They are our knights in shining armor, straddling fire-breathing beasts as they ride into battle. I just hope my story honors them!

 


About Immortal

Destiny has called. With Jaevid Broadfeather forever lost to the depths of Luntharda, Felix Farrow struggles to stand on his own. He begins a violent downward spiral which causes him to abandon his post as a dragonrider, hiding in the halls of his family estate. His one hope for redemption lies within the heart of someone from his past—and the very last person he ever wanted to see again. And now the time has finally come. Hovrid, who has ruled Maldobar as a tyrannical imposter, is preparing to make a decisive assault against Luntharda that will destroy what remains of the elven race. Only Jaevid, Felix, and their trusted friends are able to stand in his way. They have only one chance to end the war, and only one hope to absolve the curse that threatens to destroy their world. The stage is set. The plan is in motion. What began as one boy’s adventure will now end in blood.

Find out more about the Dragonriders series HERE


 

About Nicole Conway:

NICOLE CONWAY is an author from North Alabama. She graduated from Auburn University in 2012, and has previously worked as a graphic artist. She is happily married and has one son as well as a cat and a dog. She enjoys blogging, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family. Read more on Amazon’s Nicole Conway page

Website: http://anconway422.wixsite.com/authornicoleconway

Instagram: @AuthorNicoleConway

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDragonriderChronicles/

Twitter: @ANConway

Tumblr: @NicoleConway422

Pinterest: @ANConway


 

 

 

 

 

Because sometimes you just want a nice, light read… A review of Beastly by Alex Flinn

Beastly by Alex Flinn (Ebook) A handsome, but arrogant son of an television news anchor is cursed by a witch and turned into a hideous beast. Terrified anyone will find out (thus ruining his career) the news anchor father sets him up in a lavish home with servants to wait on him, but he can never go outside (for fear someone might see him). The only way to break the curse is for the boy to fall in love, and have her love him back (and kiss his hideous face)

 

I really loved this contemporary retelling. I think what drew me forward was the interesting way the author wove in the scenes from the classic Beauty and the Beast tale into the present-day setting. Yes, I knew what would happen, but that didn’t mean the ride was not enjoyable. I’d definitely recommend this book for a light, fun read that will keep you smiling.

Add this one to your TBR!


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Ashes and Fire2You can find Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound | Google Play


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What Publishers Might, and Might Not Do to Promote Their Books

This is a great article from Jane Friedman about how publishers look at marketing a book. We all dream of being on that A list.🙂

Check out Jane’s site if you are an author and her posts are new to you.

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Years ago, when I still worked for a traditional publisher, I wrote a blog post about the No. 1 disappointment of all published authors: the lack of marketing support from their publisher. This was back when social media was still a fringe pastime, limited mostly to MySpace. So if your publisher wasn’t investing in marketing or publicity, you probably had few available tools to market and publicize your work outside your community—unless you had funds to hire a publicist or a national platform of some kind.

Today, some form of online marketing by both author and publisher is essential for all titles, and while traditional forms of marketing and publicity are still key—everyone wants a mix of online and offline exposure to maximize word of mouth—publishers’ launch efforts may be focused primarily or entirely on online channels. It tends to be more efficient, targeted, and cost effective.

Yet authors still have very traditional ideas of what their publisher ought to do to demonstrate support for their book, even though where and how books get sold has changed dramatically in the last decade. Here are three things that you may want or expect your publisher to do—but are very unlikely to happen.

1. Send you on a national book tour

This is probably the biggest author disappointment by far…[continued]

3 Things Your Traditional Publisher Is Unlikely to Do

What’s you’re sign? I hope it’s not Cancer. A Review of Zodiac by Romina Russell

Zodiac by Romina Russell (Audiobook) This is a space opera with a complicated, interesting world (or WORLDS to be more accurate) People are living inside different constellations, called the Zodiac. There is a planet Virgo, planet Gemini… you get the picture. They all live in peace, until a horrible accident explodes one of planet Cancer’s moons, propelling it into the two other moons. Parts of the moons tumble into the atmosphere, wreaking planet-wide havoc. In the aftermath, we find out it was not an accident, and the person responsible plans on destroying one world at a time, unless a 16-year-old-girl (made leader because everyone else qualified died) can convince all the other planets that the cosmic fairytale Boogey-Man exists.

I found this book wildly entertaining. It is the first in the series, and you do not get complete closure at the end, but you do get a feeling that you finished a book.

This is an awesome high-paced thrill ride that will keep you guessing with a few gasps and surprises along the way. I would give this book 4 stars, subtracting one star because the beginning seemed to drone on before anything interesting happened. I almost considered moving on to something else, and all of the sudden chaos ensued. I’d definitely recommend, just be aware that when you start reading, it will get much more exciting and engaging.

Add this one to your TBR!


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Ashes and Fire2You can find Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound | Google Play


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Republishing a Series with a New Publisher. Why do it? @sara_wolf1 @entangledteen

Today we are talking to author Sara Wolf.

Sara, you are re-publishing this series. Tell me about your journey in re-publishing. What made you do it? What was the process like, and how is the new version different from the original?


Hi everyone! Thanks for having me, it’s so awesome to be here.

Republishing can be a tricky animal – on one hand, you don’t want to go through all the work it took to publish again, but on the other, you start thinking about how and where exactly your book could use improvement. This is ultimately what led me to deciding to republish the LOVELY VICIOUS series.

When I saw the series do well when it was e-book only, I thought to myself; I wish I could put this in paperback, somehow! I researched a bunch of different sites that promised to do that for you, for a price. I realized I couldn’t afford to both keep a roof over my head and publish the books into paperback, so I turned to the one person who knows what to do, always; my agent.

My agent promised she’d send the manuscript out to various publishers. It was turned down by a ton of them, but I’d been used to that for a long time. I didn’t take it personally. Finally, my agent informed me the lovely Stacy Abrams of Entangled Publishing was interested, and I was thrilled! We signed up with a contract that promised paperbacks and shelf-space, and I was over the moon.

The process was so seamless – the Entangled team made it just so easy. The edits were so crucial – Stacy took the book and made it so much better. She saw the true potential, and we worked together as hard as we could on it. The new version has tons of edits, lots of new scenes, and a delightful new cover for me to blow up and tack to my wall – I mean, ahem, for everyone to enjoy.

I definitely think my decision to republish was the right one; I got to work with so many great, talented people and be part of the Entangled family, and that’s all I could ask for.

Thank you, and have a great one!

Sara


About the author

Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


About Forget Me Always

It’s been three years, twenty-five weeks, and five days since Isis Blake fell in love, and if she has it her way, it’ll stretch into infinity. Since then, she’s punched Jack Hunter—her nemesis-turned-maybe-something-more—in the face, survived a brutal attack by her mom’s abusive ex thanks to Jack’s heroics, and then promptly forgotten all about him.

The one bright spot for Isis is Sophia, the ephemeral girl who shares Isis’s hospital stay as well as a murky past with Jack. But as Isis’s memories return, she finds it harder and harder to resist what she felt for Jack, and Jack finds it impossible to stay away from the only girl who’s ever melted the ice around his heart.

As the dark secrets surrounding Sophia emerge, Isis realizes Jack isn’t who she thought he was. He’s dangerous. But when Isis starts receiving terrifying emails from an anonymous source, that danger might be the only thing protecting her from something far more threatening.

Her past.

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When you are rooting for the bad guy… a review of CITY OF ASHES

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (Audiobook) This is book two of THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series. This is a really interesting world with a wide cast of characters having to do with a secret group that fights bad paranormals (like werewolves and vampires).

I think I liked this more that the first book because we get to see more of the bad guy, Valentine. While yes, Daddy is a jerk, I have to give the guy credit for standing up for what’s right. Shadow hunters are supposed to protect humans (mundanes) from vampires and werewolves and the like. That’s their job. This guy wants to take it to the next level and wipe them all out.

Part of me – the part that has watched monster movies and read horror novels, is on his side. “Protect the innocent!” The only reason I’m not 100% rooting for him is because the monsters in this book aren’t all monstrous. (It’s kind of like hating everyone in one country because a few of them are bad apples) Okay, yes, Valentine’s methods are not the best, but I do UNDERSTAND why he does what he does. And maybe a little part of me is rooting for him. I actually find him a little more interesting than the male lead, to be honest. I will be continuing this series (maybe next year). I’m brushing off my pom poms for Valentine.

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3 reasons why trying to publish a novel feels like trying to win The Voice @MelissaJCrispin

When Melissa approached me with this topic, I couldn’t resist. The publishing business is so subjective, just like singing. Let’s hear what Melissa has to say!


Thank you for having me on your blog today, Jennifer!

0086_scribble2 While I know The Voice has been on for several  seasons, I only started watching it recently. As cheesy as it sounds, it moves  me to watch all the people on this show pursue their dreams. It reminds me so  much of what writers go through on their journey to publication, and here are  three reasons why.


1.       Many of them have walked a long road just to get to the blind auditions. There  are so many stories of singers who struggled and worked tirelessly for years for  the chance to get on that stage. It isn’t so different for us as writers. Several  challenges come up along the way as you work to finish your book, and you need  to push forward and make it happen, no matter how hard it seems sometimes.


2.     0086_scribble1  A  lot of the contestants talk about going on the show to prove to themselves they  can do this. They’re looking to validate their dream, to see that other  people can believe in their talent and potential. Even if they don’t get a chair turn, having a successful artist in the music industry tell them they’re
good and to keep working is a huge encouragement. When a writer first starts
querying agents and publishers, similar thoughts cross their mind. If their
manuscript is rejected, constructive feedback can feel like a win. It lets the
writer know, you are almost there. Don’t give up yet.


3.      If  the contestant gets on the show, it’s only the beginning. They have much to learn and will grow as a result of all they’re exposed to during their time on the show. When your first book finally gets accepted for publication, it’s the
start of the next phase in your career. I’m yet to meet a published author who
said they learned nothing when they published their first book, and I suspect I
never will.

Do you watch The Voice? Can you think of other
reasons why it’s like pursuing publication?


When the balance between Earth, Afterlife, and Heaven are threatened, the fate of the universe falls on a selfish girl who must sacrifice everything to save it.

Kayla has a plan. She’s moving to the city after graduation and Luke’s coming with her. He’ll eventually become a doctor, she’ll be a ballerina—and they’ll live happily ever after. That is, until dark forces, led by a sister she never knew existed, start hunting her down for a power she never knew she had.

When Kayla starts working with a boy named Alec to learn how to defend herself and to stop the evil from eliminating the worlds, she finds herself falling for him. Hard. Torn between two loves and struggling to do what’s right for Earth and Afterlife, Kayla must decide if she’s fighting to keep her life together, or letting it go to save everyone else’s.

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Evernight Teen   Goodreads


Melissa  J. Crispin lives in Connecticut with her husband, two kids, and an adorable  Siberian Husky. She spends her days in the corporate world, and pursues her passion for writing in the late nights and early mornings.

From micro-fiction to novels, Melissa loves to write stories in varying lengths.  But, no matter the story, it’s almost always about the romance.

Facebook Melissa J. Crispin – Author 

Twitter: @MelissaJCrispin  

Instagram: @MelissaJCrispin

www.melissajcrispin.com

 

 

Dorothy Must Die. No, seriously. She must.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page (Audiobook) This book is about a girl named Amy who gets whisked to Oz by a tornado, only to find out Dorothy has taken up residence as an evil dictator, and Glinda, the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodsman are her evil cronies. Amy teams up with the Wicked Witches in their plot to kill Dorothy and bring Oz back from the brink of destruction.

This is a very neat tale showing what can happen to you when you get everything you want. I love how the author built on the classic tale, and shows us a new, dystopian future for Oz.

I must say, I was slightly disappointed with then ending. This is a several book series, and nothing gets closure in book one.

At All.

I’m not a fan of that trick. I’d rather have the main conflict completed, and something new pops up to entice the reader to continue. However, I am intrigued by the possibility of where the author might be going with this. I hope I’m right, because if I am, this light, fluffy read might get deep.

So yes, I will probably reach for the next book, maybe next year. This one is worth a read.


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Ashes and Fire2You can find Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound | Google Play


Catch up with me on social media!

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