My mother died in 2008 and it always bothered me she never saw me finish anything – haunted me really. Over the years, I had sent her a few snippets but nothing concrete. With a side helping of guilt, I started my first novel. It was a young adult (YA) pirate fiction. After lots of rejections (LOTS) I finally shelved it and started over again. Trust me when I say your first attempt into the literary world might not be the right one.
My project first started as two separate story ideas. One would be a paranormal and the other a purely Victorian plot line. It didn’t take long for the two to merge simply out of laziness. Like before, I began to trudge down the traditional publishing route beaming like a proud parent, my new babe in hand. Like before, that story also began to tarnish amidst all the rejections and edits. With a brooding demeanor equal to that of a sparkling vampire, the only road left untraveled were small publishers.
No one in their right mind should go straight to an online publisher. The process of waiting days, even weeks, in between responses honestly toughens your skin. You can handle bad reviews or difference of opinions because you’ve swallowed your ego a hundred times over with every form rejection. Nothing is less attractive than a self published author bashing their readers for poor reviews. Low class is not the new pink.
I can always tell when we get new authors submitting to Divertir. Their queries are tooting the next Harry Potter or New York Times best seller. They usually respond to rejections with ego building rhetoric that gets them put on our blacklist. Don’t hesitate in humoring the idea that agents also keep a blacklist.
After I exhausted the agent route, I went into the realm of the small publisher hesitantly. A friend posted on Facebook she was leaving her editing position at Divertir and I jumped into sandbox and sent an email to Ken Tupper (owner of Divertir Publishing) asking if a position was available. That was how it all started. After a time I submitted my manuscript and, surprisingly enough, was rejected but he told me why and what I should change. For the first time, I received feedback which was amazing.
I wish I could say we give each author individualized feedback as to why we reject a manuscript but unfortunately a few nasty responses and ungrateful individuals ruined it. However, at Divertir, we always keep track as to WHY a manuscript is rejected by a reviewer. Most times it is because a hero or heroine doesn’t connect with us. Other times, it is the bland way the author communicated their story.
One time, I read a manuscript set in backwoods 1940’s where a young girl went off alone with a complete stranger. That alone ruined it for me. A young lady of that time period, coming from small town america, would never do that. Do the research needed to know what your characters would and would not do.
Never hesitate to ask why something was rejected. Some agents might respond in an unfriendly manner and you need to just move on . Always keep writing, even if it takes you a few years, several manuscripts and a skeleton closet filled with rejections. Frame your first one and keep at it.
Like myself, you will get there but you won’t reach that point if you stop trying.