Tag Archives: Rejection Letter

Is networking really the answer? Are we really that shallow?

Two of the authors in the Writing Excuses podcast have mentioned they broke in with a boost due to networking.

The last query letter I submitted (and many prior) received a form rejection letter. It can’t be the quality of the story, the work, which they haven’t even seen. It might be the quality of the query letter, but I can correspond professionally. Hell, in my day job, people ask me to help them compose messages so they sound cleaner, easier to read, and more professional.

It might be that the story didn’t grab the agent’s or intern’s imagination, which sometimes happens. But it’s hard to give a story full credit in synopsis. They have a tendency to all sound flat, lame, contrived.


Try to summarize your favorite film or show right now in a few short sentences and see if it wouldn’t sound lame to someone else (assuming they weren’t already a fan).

So what’s the difference between having your query letter read or ignored?

Seems like whether or not you’ve had coffee with the recipient is the key ingredient.

Soy un perdedor.

I have not done any significant writing recently. More the fool, I.

The article which the student who cited me quoted was “Should your faith influence your vote?”

The ideas for Fragile Gods are starting to congeal into more tangible forms.

Work (that is, my day job) is insane. There are myriad double-bookings this week, which means I have to be the bad guy and tell people to shape up even though I have no real power of enforcement over such idiocy. Then when the customers discover they’ve been double-booked, I get to take the fall. Lovely.

George R. R. Martin is better than I remembered. Why did I get bored in the middle of book two?

My father in law is not impressed or gripped by the opening of Elantris, which is one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read, bar none. To each his own; your mileage may vary. (This is karmic revenge for the fact I have hated two of his very favorite fantasy series.)

Maybe Brandon Sanderson represents a generational shift. After all, my dad didn’t like Fight Club. (I know, right?)

IGMS (see sidebar on the right) has not yet rejected Woman’s Best Friend. Until I learn otherwise, I am choosing to interpret this as “no news is good news”. Perhaps my rejection letter is late because my manuscript made it from slush pile 1 into slush pile 2. One can only hope.

DnD Insider continues to disappoint, only this time with software they have actually “completed.” As previously stated, more on this in a future post. (Yeah, yeah, I know.)

Who are your favorite fictional characters, and why? Mine have included Hannibal Lector and the Joker from The Dark Knight. For outright heroes, I’d have to honestly say Rand from the Wheel of Time Series in spite of the fact so much else about the series is annoying. Batman in Batman Begins, obviously. Commander Adam from Battlestar Galactica is rapidly becoming a favorite, and I always enjoy scenes with Matt from Heroes. Hiro Nakamura deserves honorable mention here.

When you keep me honest about posting, I’ll keep posting. When the questions and feedback slow or stop, the posting slows or stops. You, my readers, have more power than is reasonable. Especially for those of you I don’t know that well.

I wonder if film composition would have been an easier secondary career than writer.

It was EXACTLY what I wanted to know.

Several days ago, I got the first full-text reviewed/edited copy of Woman’s Best Friend back from a Hatrack reviewer.

It was beautiful.

To fully understand my satisfaction with having my own work ripped to shreds, you must first consider the palpable frustration of a rejection letter.

The whole aggravation of a rejected work isn’t that it simply wasn’t purchased; we’ve all had dates declined, interviews we didn’t get hired, a request denied. But in most of these circumstances, it is possible to determine why. In social circumstances, you can even ask:

Why didn’t you want to go on a date with me?

The immature lady will simply not return this call. The mature gal will admit, “Because you’re creepy, clingy, needy, you have no job, and you smell funny.” This may be painful, but it gives the guy (if he is mature) the opportunity to become less creepy and needy, get a job, and bathe more before asking the next girl.

When I get a rejection letter, my brain screams at the editor:


Based on the number of podcasts and books-on-writing I’ve devoured, I wonder:

Was my cover letter too short? Too long? Too dry? Too arrogant? Too humble? Did I misspell the editor’s name? Did the story remind them of a worse one they read in gradeschool? A better one? Did they just buy a story like this? Did they discover a misprint? Not like the title? Were they annoyed at the shade of white I printed on? Was there a smudge on the manuscript? Did they Google me and disagree with my politics? Religion? Choice of video games?

Did I give too little description? Too much? Did they not care about the characters? Did they find an element cliche? Did they finish the first page? The second? Was the ending trite? Was there a problem with the plot? The grammar? The style? Did I use too many echoes? Was my characterization thin? Or too heavy-handed? Were my hooks too trendy? Were my paragraphs too long? Too short? Was my dialog too vague? Too precise? Too true to life to be interesting? Not true enough?

…and on and on.

The frustration is not just that the work didn’t sell; even successful writers sometimes have that happen. The frustration is that to fix it, I don’t even know where to start.

Enter the anonymous critic, willing to read the whole story and pull no punches with his opinions.

I wish I could reproduce the full text including his comments for you here, but then I would have used my First North American publication rights to the story.

Suffice to say that the first total stranger to read Woman’s Best Friend found a whole host of echoes I never noticed in myriad readings. Nor did anyone else. He found whole paragraphs which could be cut, their whole meaning still evident in the sentence preceding them.

I am now working on a 5th draft of Woman’s Best Friend, which will be much tighter and more streamlined. Then if that one isn’t good enough, a 6th, and so forth.

That’s how you become perfect.