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Encouraging News

Hi everyone, If, like me, you've worked hard to polish your work and haven't got anywhere at all with it yet, you might be encouraged to read about new author Torri Newman, whose forthcoming publication 'Falling' was rejected 41 times. Now billed as 'Jaws at 35,000 feet', she used her experience as a flight attendant to create a thriller about terrorism in the sky. Sounds routine? Perhaps that's why it was so roundly rejected by so many, who knows? However, her 42nd submission was to a top screenwriter turned agent as she had nothing to lose and was signed for a 2 book deal for a huge sum. If you're reading this and feeling lost in the wilderness of agent searching and being largely ignored (like me), take heart. I've read some of the submissions on here and I feel sure that among them is some superb writing. Do us keen readers and writers all a favour and keep going please!

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Replies (14)
  • Wonderful. I just wonder if I could keep going for 41 rejections. Since every literary agent seems to take 3 months or thereabouts I’m not sure I’ll still be alive that far into the future!

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    • Yes you will Georgina, it's taken me five years and two books to get 30 plus rejections, in three rounds of submissions. I feel though I'm getting nearer.....


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    • Have you seen Night on the Galactic Railroad? It is a drug allegory and cautionary tale about a young cat. There are only four copies in existence, but it somehow made it as a movie.

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      • I've worked out that to get 41 rejections I'd have to make about 193 submissions. More than 75% can't be bothered to reply. Is this a Covid thing with too many authors or has it always been this way?

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        • It's always been this way.

          The way to change the odds is to only submit when your work is truly ready. (Which is usually several rounds of major edits after you think nothing more can possibly be done to tighten it.)

          Good tip there Rick, thanks. The writer of ´Falling’ mentioned thirty edits. I’ve done a lot but no doubt need more!

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          • …considering an automated reply takes virtually no effort.

            Except that is not entirely true.

            Oh, yes, a truly automated acknowledgement system takes negligible effort to run; a computer detects the incoming message and sends a meaningless reply within seconds. But what does it cost to put such a system in place? If a dedicated platform is being built to handle submissions – and in the real business world, a platform like this has a mid-to-upper six figure price tag – then it's a safe bet. But for anything else, it's either an ugly hack that doesn't work properly or…

            If you are talking about doing it manually, how long is that "virtually no effort"? It still takes someone to open the email, determine that it is a submission, copy-paste a generic reply, and send it. In another thread, we saw a figure of 150 submissions per week, per agent. That's 30 per day. How long does the check, copy-paste, send process take? Less than a minute, yes. Mabye all of 15 seconds? But that's still over half an hour per week.

            At wehich point, I refer you to that automated email. The one that is utterly meaningless. All it told you was that the system processed it. But in the digital world, while there is a negligible chance that any single submission may not be cleanly processed, the act of sending by email / submission form offers as much confirmation of reciept as that automated / time-wasting generic reply.

            Also, such a reply could only tell you that it's in the queue, not that it's been looked at.

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            • Hi Angela, no you are not alone, the bigger agencies send an auto reply basically as soon as you hit send, however I would say that over half don't reply to you in person, either addressing you by name or just their blanket response (not for us, doesn't suit our list, blah blah). I have had some lovely rejection letters though (mainly by agents we see on the events on here!!), which does encourage you a bit. Like you, I can't think of any other companies who would ignore customers/clients like this. And yes, we're all busy, not just agents. 

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            • Good points. Knowing when you are truly ready is the hardest part, none of us submits work that we think is crap, and feel offended to find out that it is.

              I've recently discovered Critique Circle, which not only helps with getting your work critiqued, you have to critique others' work which is a great learning technique. "Peer-to-peer" on JW is great, especially being more UK-oriented, but it doesn't have the numbers of participants or the immediacy of responses. I hope Harry & Co. don't mind me mentioning it.

              Re. edits, I've always struggled to count how many edits my work undergoes, I think we're all different and some people are more analogue than digital. For me, I've now found a year after starting to think seriously about submission, a year's worth of intermittent editing a work is barely sufficient. And, external criticism is more important than how many edits you do.

              For any debut author, I cannot recommend highly enough the medium of short stories. For a start, it's easier to find people to read a sub-10k word piece than a 70k+ novel. You can do so much more, and get it reality checked in short story competitions, without the depressing process of successive rejections or silent dismissals that you inevitably get from your first novel. You still won't get published, unless you are the one in a thousand genius that doesn't have to worry anyway, but the pain is far less and it teaches you the craft.

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              • I’ve used Scribophile for feedback occasionally, which is similar to Critique Circle, I believe. The problem with these is that the feedback is very hit and miss. More often miss because people are collecting points to get there own crit. You have to spend time cultivating relationships to find someone good.

                Whereas the feedback on here is, more often than not, excellent. I think because it’s given freely. Although critting is a great way to learn.

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              • Good point, maybe I've been lucky so far, I got into it in a roundabout way from a beta reader I found on Goodreads. She is very good, but only does sub-6k word segments. Critting other people's work is a great learning tool, although actually applying it to my writing is another skill I'm only just starting to acquire.

                I've also found you can join too many communities, two is plenty (JW and CC). More, and it gets in the way of writing, which is not the idea. Beware of online displacement activities, and get back to the real writing! :)

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                • :D yep. Stop prevaricating and write the damn thing!

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                • Thanks for sharing this encouraging news angela.errington 😊  Every rejection is one step closer to that yes!

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