Thursday, September 30, 2010

Manuscript Rejection 101

A Week of Writing Tips

> My question is - do you think it's worth pursuing the epublishing route

> with this first novel or should I just file it and move on?

Before you do either, I think you should consider some things first.
1) Has this novel been through a crit group (comprised of writers, not family members)? Been revised then through another round of crits? Have you worked though books like Alicia Rasley's THE STORY WITHIN or Margie Lawson's lecture series?

2) Has this novel been entered in a first chapter and a first three chapters contest? Some mss in contests are like putting a square peg in a round hole, but most mss can get valuable feedback from a contest. Did you begin too so or too late? Are your leads GMCs clear or clear enough? Do you show more than tell? Is your narration and dialogue balanced? Do you show character emotions through body language, facial expression, inner body response, physical actions, sensory details, tone of voice, dialogue, silence, and internalization? Or do you rely too much on internalization to show mood? Are your leads likeable and compelling? Does your syno clearly show the external plot and romantic plot progression?

Yes, bad judges do exist. But on a whole, judging feedback (like crits) can give you fresh insight into what works and doesn't work in your story.
Stephie Smith has a great list of upcoming contests.

3) To let one rejection influnce your ms's future gives too much power to that rejection. Editors' likes vary. Same with agents. Persistence is key into finding the right match. And one R does not a bad novel make.

Perhaps your story just needs more layers. Don't file away any manuscript based on one or few rejections...unless the ms doesn't mean much to you. See #1 craft help suggestions.
4) Take a break from ms #1 and read or re-read a good book or two on the craft of writing. Some of my favorites are FICTION FIRST AID by Raymond Obstfeld, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass, YOU CAN WRITE A ROMANCE by Rita Clay Estrada, and SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Browne and King.

Alicia Rasley's Writers' Corner is an excellent online source for writing tips. Her archived articles of the month are some of the best and easiest to understand. And on Charlotte Dillon's website, she has several craft of writing links. Or head over to the Seekers blog (

Sharpen your mind and either start a new ms whils saving ms #1 for later or go back to ms #1 and revise.
5) The e-pub route is a possibility, but is it a possibility because you think e-pubs are for books that aren't good enough for print publishers?

Some e-pubs and e-pubbed stories...well, their badness can speak for them. But good e-pubs and good e-pubbed stories exist. The growing popularity of digital publishing is INSANE and AWESOME.

However, I think before you consider the e-pub route, you ought to consider #1-#4 first, and if you are still pleased with your story, then go for it!
What was most helpful revision advice you've received?

Happy writing!


Cheryl Klarich said...

Thank you so much for the tips. Great information. Blessings to you- oh, I really enjoy your quirky, fresh voice!

Gina Welborn said...

Thanks, Cheryl!

I was cleaning out my e-mail folders and came across some saved writing group response. So I figured, why not turn them into blog posts?

Plus I needed to be reminded of these tips myself.

Susanne Dietze said...

Great post, Gina. I am working through Alicia Rasley's workbook and find it sooo helpful. Thanks for the recommendations!