Monthly Archives: February 2016

Throwback Thursday: Self-Editing and Humble Pie

(First published on my blog 14th August 2013)

I can honestly say that I’ve never left a scathing, personal review for a book. (Occasionally I have left a harsher review if I feel the author has cheated the reader or propagated something harmful with their words.) That’s not to say I haven’t thought personal comments, I just haven’t felt the need to shout about it. I may be being too laid back, but I feel that the only times to speak up on the review front are when you have a genuine complaint or something has totally knocked your socks off. That said, in the right company with a group of trusted friends I have said some very catty things about certain books – never without cause but still. Was it necessary?

I’ll get my usual tangent in early here; the origins of the phrase ‘humble pie’ dates back to the middle ages when serving folk and the upper crust (another good phrase) all ate at the same board in the same hall. How well to do you were depended on how high above or far below the salt cellar you were seated. Anyway, the nobility hunted for a past time and when successful, deer and other kills were given to the kitchen for preparation. The off cuts, the bits no one really wanted, eyes, ears, intestines etc were known as ‘umbles’. These, in true waste not want not fashion, were mashed up and made into pies to feed the servants – who were sat significantly below the salt cellar. As the English language progressed those who could read and write dictated how English was to appear written down. They developed a curious propensity for adding ‘Hs’ onto words beginning with a vowel. ‘Umbles’ became ‘humble’ – hence ‘humble pie’.

I really hope you’re still with me.

How does this tie in with my statement about book reviews? That’s where the self editing comes in. While publishing houses and agents, if you are lucky enough to have a contract with either, do provide some editing still, nowadays it is far less than it used to be. You want your book to be as good as it possibly can be before submitting it for two reasons; one – it’s far more likely to get picked up if it looks like it needs less work done to it .(Editing is expensive) two – the more you do yourself, the better condition you get your book into, the better prospect you’ll appear to be long term. You can be trusted to make necessary changes.

This is all well and good. Editing, you say? I can do that. I mean I wrote it so how hard can it be?

Very hard. Excruciatingly painful. Brain meltingly, head achingly, tooth grindingly bad. Soul rending at times.

Here’s the big secret fellow writerly folks; Editing your book and doing necessary re-writes is ten/ twenty/ a hundred times harder than writing it. Writing the jolly little begger is a walk in the park by comparison.

I’ve got to the stage where I know what to do and I went on a fabulous self edit your novel course which taught me how to do it. At the moment I’m putting it into practice. It is difficult. Major understatement.

I’m roasting my prime haunch of venison, hopefully it will fall mouthwateringly off the bone, smothered in butter and herbs…but I won’t be tasting it. I’m preparing it for the consumers I hope will be drawn to the table by the aroma. Meanwhile I do have this unappealing but substantial pile of off cuts stacking up beside me. Umbles you might say. The bits no one else wants. They do say nothing in writing is wasted…guess I’ll be making me a pie then.

It is shockingly hard to write a book. I don’t have a sufficiently strong verb or adverb, not even amongst my umbles, for how hard editing that book is. Yes, crap does get published. Yes, you or I may be better writers who could have done it better. No we don’t have the right to go nuclear with our slanging – not on a public forum anyway. I’m not the thought police. Neither though, am I the arbiter of literary crapness. One person’s excrement is another persons golden read after all.

So what have I learned from around this juicy, bitter mouthful of umble pie? Criticize constructively and honestly. But don’t ever fall down the rabbit hole into being cruel or judgemental. Authors do read reviews – wouldn’t it be great to give useful feedback rather than tell them it’s donkey dung but not why? You don’t have to lie and say you like something when you don’t but remember how hard creating a book is, and how easy judging someone’s book is by comparison.

I’ll be bearing that in mind from now on. If I survive this self edit.

One day the book on the firing line might be yours. Think about it.

Self-Publishing Success with Joanne Phillips

Last month I took part in The Writer’s Workshop Self-Publishing Success course. I have a lot of respect for Writer’s Workshop – they provide advice, resources, help and opportunities for writers from all walks of life. Being part of that community has smoothed my path no end. But even if I were not an active participant of ‘The Word Cloud’ – the WW forum – it would be worth following the Writer’s Workshop just to participate in the yearly get together in York at the Festival of Writing. (This year will be my fourth year and I am already looking forward to it!) So you can probably imagine that I have a lot of respect for course run by WW, especially since I had already done their brilliant ‘Self-edit your novel’ course a couple of years ago.

 

I was not/ am not a complete newbie when it comes to Self-Publishing (or Indie Publishing if you prefer). I had co-edited two anthologies and done al the formatting for The Random Writers – a superb if sightly unusual writing group I belong to. So the technical stuff, the terminology and the big learning curve at the start of Self-publishing… well I was fairly confident I had digested all that. Not confident enough to do it entirely on my own behalf mind you. Oh no. I wanted to be firmly backed up by a dozen or so brilliant writers. So that alone should have told me that I was looking for something.

 

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Enter Writer’s Workshop Self-Publishing Success tutor, Joanne Phillips.  Joanne is a successful Self-published author who writes contemporary mysteries, commercial women’s fiction and romantic comedies. She has also been an Amazon top 100 Bestseller and won the SpaSpa award for best Romantic Comedy. More importantly, Joanne was also down-to-earth, personable, chock full of interesting tid-bits and advice in self-publishing and just generally lovely to work with.

It was a four week course, taking place entirely online which was brilliant because you could conceivably be anywhere in the world with a laptop and internet connection and take part. The subject of Self-Publishing was broken down into four segments – an overview of self-publishing including learning terms and types of self publishing. getting ready to publish, the technical side of uploading and actually self-publishing , and last but in no way least, marketing.

At the beginning of each week we were provided with course materials including an introductory video to that week’s topic and extensive but accessible notes. A home work task was also set and often there was an optional discussion topic to get involved in. Part of the homework was to look at and give feedback on your course mates’ homework.  As is usually the way wit WW courses, this was pretty intense. While I was aided by my prior knowledge and the fact that I am already a sort of hybrid author, there was still plenty for me to do and take on. In fact it would be fair to say that the homework pushed me in ways that I had never pushed myself.

My goal at the beginning of the course was to find out how to market better and reach my readers. As it turned out the major flaw in my marketing plan was revealed in week one. Namely that as well received as my books might be to the smallish number of people who had read them, I wasn’t reaching my readers because no one knew about my books. It seems so obvious in retrospect however it’s something that many authors struggle with; the ability to talk about their work and tell people that it’s out there for the buying.

Then there was the addition of several new tools to my writing toolkit for example press releases – which I may never love but can at least see the value of now (I’d always sort of skipped them before)- and vlogs – a short video blog aimed at fellow writers and members of my audience, a powerful aid to connection which I may one day post here…

All in all this course is worth every penny. Jo is a great person to work with and gives really valuable feedback. Learning how to identify the right key words was a revelation – seriously my mind is still blown. The concept is simple but putting it into action takes a lot of thorough careful work. I can see how it could immediately improve sales and no one – not any of the books I’ve read or blogs on self-publishing or speaking to other self-published authors – has ever explained it in such depth and clarity before. Maybe it’s one of those things you think every one knows and understands if you know and understand it yourself – either way it’s a much bigger deal that the odd paragraph here and there allows for.

If you’re just starting out Self-publishing or you’ve been doing it for a while but not seen much in the way of results, this course is for you. In fact if you think you know enough about self publishing, this course is for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A big thank you to Joanne Phillips who completely changed my perspective and gave me the confidence to go forward in self-publishing on my own behalf 😀

Throwback Thursday: Candle flames, light bulbs, flash bulbs and flare guns; Editing your novel.

(First published on my old blog 19th August 2013)

At the end of April, earlier this year, I finished writing my novel. I spent a day walking around in a hypnogogic state where everything seemed very crisp and bright and yet nothing was quite real. Bit of an odd day – I was torn between feeling euphoric that I’d finished The Book and lost; what was I going to do now? What was I supposed to do now? Writers with more experience than me will tell you that this is only the beginning. If I wanted to get anywhere trying to sell my book, then I needed to edit it first.

Great. Good.

How?

I had more than a slight inkling that work needed to be done before I could think about sending it out into the world. I’d read ‘Self Editing for Fiction Writers’ by Renni Browne and David King – which I highly recommend – but while it answered the question of ‘what’ to some extent, it didn’t show me ‘how’.

So I decided I would enroll (or perhaps that should be enlist) in the Writer’s Workshop ‘Self Edit your novel course.’ The course is entirely run online, over six weeks, by Debi Alper and Emma Darwin.

I’d heard good things about the course and by that point the book I was initially so pleased with, now appeared to be an unclimbable white paper mountain. Possibly inhabited by abominable snowmen. Daunting was an understatement. The only problem was I’d missed – by two days – the start of the next course. I was going to have to wait until June to get stuck in.

At this point other writers who’ve been here, will be sagely nodding their heads. ‘Ah yes’, you’ll think. ‘I remember that stage.’ For those of you who haven’t hit that particular bump in the road yet, here it is; You can have the patience of a saint. Perhaps you never get irritated by other people’s idiocy or your own. Perhaps when the washing machine spews grey water all over the floor instead of just spinning your socks, you’re the sort of person who sighs and smiles and calmly reaches for a mop. Perhaps you even drive quite happily behind the moron in the car in front who is doing 30 mph in a 50 mph zone. Maybe you’re really that patient.

It doesn’t matter. The minute you finish writing a book, that patience will evaporate and you will be overcome by a call of the wild type pull to send it out. Now. Yesterday. Go go go go! This is a really bad idea.

I’d committed to doing the self edit course so reluctantly I shoved my work in progress (WIP) into a drawer and did other things, waiting for June to roll around. I am so glad I did. It was a very intense six weeks. There was so much to absorb. Even now, going back over the course notes, I’m still learning more. I realize now that this isn’t a case of learning to edit and then that’s it. You start learning and you go from there. There were many such light-bulb moments during the course.

On the other hand it was ingeniously designed to fit in around your everyday life – no matter where you were in the world. There were a number of people in the same group as me who were in Australia or Portugal, France or Malaysia. Despite hectic lives and different log on times all of us managed with relative ease, to learn and participate in the course. Every week a brief tutorial video and a nice, lengthly explanatory written tutorial was posted, followed by a homework assignment. These were all based around your own WIP (which is why you really need to be at least close to finishing a draft before you do a course.)

Three things came out of this for me;
1) partly because I’d had to wait for the course but definitely due to how the course guided me, I was able to look at my WIP with some perspective. Enough distance to be objective. (This is invaluable because by this time the impatience had worn away to be replaced with the insistent fear that the whole thing was drivel. That’s perfectly normal too by the way.)

2) the group as a whole reads and offers comment and critique on each others work. This is something that would have scared the bejesus out of me in the past. Here, as an exercise in learning what works and what doesn’t in writing, it was truly eye opening. I had the most amazing group. Everyone was really supportive of each other, everyone really tried to offer sensitive and constructive criticism. Turns out that having someone read what you have written, then tell you what they think, isn’t actually that bad at all.

3) You learn the techniques for deconstructing and reconstructing your own prose.  Writing is re-writing. If you were like me and just dashed off an essay at A-level for which you then received an A, never having worried about notes or drafts, then be warned, your first draft won’t be your last.

It’s a different skill set of course but I think I can honestly say that in terms of knowledge transferal, I learned more in that six weeks than I did in two years of my four year degree course.

The best part; Debi and Emma were fabulous. Literally. Super powered – like something out of a fable. Astute, honest, sensitive, helpful and just generally lovely. In short the course was like joining a family of writers of all genres. I’d been so nervous about doing the course because I was shy about showing my writing to anyone (yes, despite the finished first draft impatience.) There was nothing to worry about.

My writing has not been the same. It never will be. This is a good thing. I can now see where I want to get to in terms of quality, even if I can’t yet reach it. I stress the yet. It’s built up my confidence and improved my prose beyond anything I expected. It’s not often that expectations are far and away exceeded rather than falling short.

So there you are. Have a finished first draft? Not sure what to do? Check out the Self Edit your novel course. You won’t regret it. IMO it’s ridiculously under priced for what you get out of it. Not that I’m complaining.

Actually, I’ve been feeling a bit lost since the course finished last month. I’m quite tempted to try sneaking onto the one in October. No one will notice…right?

Five things to Expect when you Admit you’re a Writer

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I’ve always been a bit wary of blogging about my writing journey. I mean what could I possibly have to say that hasn’t been said – and far more eloquently – by writers who came before me. Probably better writers to. I mean, if Stephen King was in two minds about adding his experiences before writing ‘On Writing’, what hope did I have?

 

But that is the thing about being a writer. No two journeys are the same. Just as no two writers are the same, how we process and utilise our experiences will be different. It took me a while to realize the full scope of this simple truth: that the reason I like to read about different writers’ journeys is because I never tire of hearing how a first novel got written or the second book made it into the top 100 on Amazon or how it’s always, always book two that is just so damn hard to write (more about that on another day.) It clicked that I wasn’t alone in this fascination. So I’m writing a series of posts about how I started out on this particular path.

Starting out: Five things to expect

#1 That sinking feeling –

I had been writing since I was twelve years old (nine years old if we’re not going to take recognisable use of the English language into account) but I had never felt comfortable showing my writing to anyone up until January 2013. Actually I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my writing when I decided to ‘come out of the closet’ but my New Year’s resolution was to be brave and put my writing out there. It was pointless to cherish a dream of being published but not letting anyone read my work. Publishers do not send out talent scouts knocking on doors looking for reclusive, literary introverts who just might have written a real gem. On the other hand it does take no small amount of bravery to expose your writing to criticism because at this stage (and well into your writing career for many authors) you will find it difficult to separate yourself from your work. A criticism levelled at your writing feels personal. So expect a creeping sense of naked exposure, as though you’re walking around without your skin on.

Do feel proud of yourself for being brave. It’s really not easy. In fact I recommend a mini celebration – as once said to me by the wise Debi Alper, there is a lot of heartache involved in writing, make time to enjoy and celebrate your successes no matter how humble you think they are.

Try Not To take offence at criticism, even if it is blunt or harsh. It’s just that person’s opinion. If several people make the same reasonable point, then it might be worth considering if it’s a blind spot. Otherwise you decide. Don’t let someone else’s opinion put you off.

#2  The realization that there are still many miles to travel

Just because you’re now out in the open about writing, it unfortunately doesn’t mean that you are ready for immediate publication and fame. In fact if you were/are anywhere near as reclusive as I was, then you are going to find a steep learning curve stretching up into the mists hanging low over Real Writers’ Mountain ahead of you. That’s okay. In fact it’s good to have a direction and a point of origin – you can’t travel without those two things. The third thing you need, of course, is a destination but at this point it’s a nebulous thing subject to change. There will be pit-stops, false starts and detours on the way.  A lot of the time it will seem as if you are not getting anywhere. It will only be later when you look back on how far you’ve travelled or when you read something you wrote then as opposed to now, that you will realise you couldn’t see how far or fast you were travelling.

Do try and enjoy the ride. It’s a long distance journey not a whistle stop tour. You never get to do this again for the first time, so as much as possible be in the moment.

Try Not To be too impatient. Okay I know this is like saying to a fire ‘don’t burn’ and it’s a serious case of pot/kettle/noir for me. All the same, impatience won’t get you where you want to go. Don’t be put off by how much you have to learn. Learn it well now and it will always belong to you. Ultimately do you want to be the best writer you can be or not?

#3 You are going to be doing things that scare you

Having said not to be impatient, I’m now going to face the other way and say don’t be hesitant either. Writing and sharing it with other people is probably not the place for implosion therapy but never even dipping a toe in the water is not going to help you either. Join writing groups. Exchange critiques – yes you. Read and critique someone else’s work. You will learn five times as fast how to improve your own writing if you learn how to effectively critique someone else’s work. Try different types of writing – flash fiction, poetry, short stories, blank verse, novels, fan-fiction, hai-kus… Try different genres. Try literary and less literary. The idea is not to explode your comfort zone but to push yourself a little more each day, gradually expanding your comfort zone. The thing I was most scared of was showing my writing to anyone. I started off exchanging critiques. Then I went back through a bunch of short stories I had written, tarted them up and sent them off to various magazines and podcasts. I got A LOT of rejections but I also got a fair few acceptances too. The worst someone can do is say no. That is a hurdle every writer needs to jump at some point. Starting small now will stand you in good stead later.

Do push your comfort zone boundaries with small challenges, gradually building up to bigger ones.

Try Not To get discouraged if you don’t make a challenge or get cold feet. It happens to all of us. The only person you are in competition with is yourself and the best bit is you can always try again. The only possible failure is if you fail to try. The rest is just varying degrees of success.

#4 People you know are going to find out

Yeah, that’s right. At some point you are going to be having a discussion with your mother about why you killed off the mother-character at the beginning of book one (much to your embarrassment and your mother’s amusement)… wait…no. Sorry, that’s my stuff. The example holds though. Non-writer friends and family will most likely find out eventually. And the world will not end. I promise. I completely understand why writers feel shy about this – I did. Still do on occasion. However readers nowadays like to be able to make a connection with writers. Gone are the days of writing under your initials and pretending that the book wasn’t by you. If you want to be published and to sell a book you have to hustle a little (a lot). What does that include? Blogging, tweeting, online discussions, author interviews, maintaining a website, facebook, instagram, tumblr, podcasts, vlogs… Potentially any of those things. Not yet maybe but one day. It’s not an option to lock up everyone you would rather didn’t read your book without access to the internet so Ipoint you towards the better option of dealing with it. At least as much as you can. Put out of your mind that your gran mind pick up and read the tome of dinosaur erotica you laboured over. Forget that the YA fantasy which you sweated blood over may well be read by your highly literary college dean father. None of that matters.

You’ll also find friends and family react in different ways. Some will want to tell everyone. You can only limit this to an extent and to be honest you don’t want to curtail it too much – word of mouth is something you ultimately want to generate after all. Others will just not get it. The writing thing. You’ll get answers that vary from ‘Why?’ to ‘But they reckon everyone can write a book?’ to ‘Cool, am I in it?’ to (my personal favourite) ‘I always meant to write a book but I just don’t have time.’ (As if you wrote a book because you had oodles of free time!) This is a smile and wave situation. Do not get angry. Do not engage further. They don’t get it and that’s okay too.

Do have an honest chat with friends/family members if you are anxious about them knowing you’re a writer. The people who care about you may not understand but they will be supportive.

Try Not To allow friends/family to get you down. Some people just won’t know how to react or won’t understand why it’s important or they may well just be negative arses. Don’t pick up their negativity and carry it (intentional or unintentional). You have more important things to think about. The same goes for if friends/family don’t like you’re writing or don’t want to read it. That’s okay. Were they really your target audience?

#5 You are going to get rejected

I know I’ve mentioned this already but it does need reiterating. If you have designs on becoming a writer who makes a living from writing, you will get rejected. Or more properly, your work will. From critiques that are a bit on the harsh side to actual notes from publishers, agents and magazines saying they don’t want your work, you will find your work accrues a fair pile of rejections. THIS IS NORMAL. And it’s not a reflection on you as a person. Remember, after you finish writing, divide the writer from the writing. You will not write something that everyone will love. You may not write something that most people will love or even like. That’s okay. I promise you that there is a readership for you out there somewhere and nowadays it’s a lot easier to find your audience. But this cannot happen if you let rejection pull you down. Feel angry, feel upset, feel down – go for a walk, take part in a martial art (nothing like a good fight in controlled conditions to help you get it out of your system), eat some chocolate, allow yourself a day of sulking. Then pick yourself up and get on with it. You are in it for the long haul, right? Ultimately rejections are tint pebbles in your path.

Do be kind to yourself. Rejection hurts, do something nice for yourself – don’t add to the bad feeling by beating yourself up.

Try Not To let it really send you spiralling into depression or put you off or self-flagellate. It doesn’t feel like it now but it is a small obstacle and you can get over it. Remember that you are not being rejected because you, the individual, are not the same as your work. You won’t win every race in life and often you get more value long term out of the ones you lose.

 

So that’s my five main things to expect on admitting to the habit of writing. Next time I’ll talk more about my early experiences with critique and how to give and receive valuable feedback. Thanks for reading 🙂

Throwback Thursday: The Rejection Code

(First published on my old blog 8th July 2013)

Nobody like rejection. At least I have never encountered anyone who does. It would have to be a fairly rare fetish if it does exist independently of other factors. Writers, like brave souls returning to or continuing playing the dating game, probably make it fairly high in the list of those who like rejection least.

In fact the more experience I gain in writing and submitting my work, the more I think it has in common with dating. There is a code to dating, often subtle, rarely understood in exactly the same way by both parties, but a code nonetheless. I have never tried internet dating; as I am quite happy where I am in that regard hopefully I will never need to. But I have to say I feel for the brave souls who hang their hearts out on a yard arm in the hope of being found acceptable, or even being desired. Of course this is  gross over simplification. I’m sure there are a hundred and one other reasons for internet dating, or any other kind of date for that matter, than just the hope of finding someone who fits.

The comparison is there to make however. We writers send our words out, basically into outer space; certainly into cyber space; in the hope that someone – an editor, a publisher, an agent, a reader – will chose us. That we will have found our audience; the place where we fit. There are many more writers than there are agents or publishers. It stands to reason for a consumer driven enterprise.

So of course there are far, far more rejections being sent than acceptances.

I’ve had some experience of this myself recently. I’ll be honest, however prepared you think you are, those first rejections sting like vinegar in an anal fistula. This isn’t surprising. Like the internet daters, aren’t we writer also hanging our hearts and souls out on a yard arm? Exposing our soft under bellies? I maintain that it is all but impossible to write something really good without writing honestly. I don’t mean writing in a way that happens to hit the market at the right time and sell loads of copies; that’s luck and no amount of statistics in those cases will ever make the book good. Which isn’t to say that writing cannot be brilliant and best selling. Of course it can. I digress. And I have no intention of pointing fingers at bestselling but inferior work here!

In my case rejection and acceptance came backwards. In a swelter of blind and slightly manic panic, I sent out a bunch of short stories to various magazines and publishers. It was a reaction to my deep conviction that nothing I wrote was ever going to be good enough. I was developing a mental block about sending out my work. So I tried implosion therapy.

To cut a long story short my initial responses were three acceptances and two probablys. To date I have had another acceptance and I have four pieces under consideration. This was all somewhat of a shock. Where were the rejection slips? The form letters I had been led to believe I would receive for years before getting so much as a matrimonial nibble from a publisher wanting to wed my MS. Well after this I received my first ever rejection letter. On the same day in the next piece of post in fact, I received my second rejection letter. It was still back to front though. These were personalised letters addressed to me, telling me how much the editor had enjoyed my story but that it wasn’t a good fit/ didn’t match the overall mood/ wasn’t quite right. There were generous especially considering it is easy to fire off a form letter but takes time and energy to leave even two lines of feedback. To top it off these letter requested that I submit more of my work in future.

In rejection code terms ye it did mean that those stories weren’t being published. It did not however mean it was because they weren’t good. I was either pipped to the post by a stronger story or mine wasn’t a good fit for the overall theme. Alright, I thought at the time, I can handle that sort of rejection.

So when once again on the same day, two non personal ‘form’ letters arrived … well I won’t say I was crushed because I have a fairly tough hide, but I can’t honestly say it didn’t hurt. It did. It will do if it happens again which it likely will. Rejection is an occupational hazard for writers and daters alike. It may be that these  form rejections came because I did not send the right piece to the right publisher. It may be that they just weren’t strong enough to be published. All reasonable and plausible in terms of why they were rejected. However in rejection code a form letter tends to mean ‘rubbish, why did you send us this crap.’ Of course it’s probably more complicated than that but I can assure you if you haven’t received one yet, if and when you do receive a form rejection it will shake your confidence. Maybe it should. Maybe that’s what produces really good writers. The piece of you that you sent out has been firmly stepped on but you scrape yourself back together and try again. And again. And again.

At one point I actually wondered if my earlier success hadn’t had more to do with luck or worse maybe it wasn’t the beginning of success, maybe it was success – my allotted portion from which everything else was set on a downward gradient. Obviously this is rubbish. But expect to question yourself. I did. I would be very surprised if there was any writer in the same position who didn’t.

Then there are the ones that seem to be IT. The fit. The one. On paper all is good. Like the dater with half a dozen good dates under his/her belt you’ve heard from a publisher saying they’re very interested in the piece you sent them but they need to run it past the final panel. It sounds like a cake walk. You tell yourself not to get your hopes up but you feel confident. You can’t help it. Like the dater who has had six good dates you relax…and they never call. Or they write you a lovely, polite letter with feedback explaining that you jut weren’t a good fit for the overall theme.

*sigh*

In some ways this almost hurts worse than a form rejection. With a form rejection you can tell yourself that ‘they didn’t get you’ or ‘didn’t read it properly / at all’. With this – they read it carefully, in detail, several times. And rejected you anyway. What is this code for? Well absolutely nothing more than they said. You didn’t fit this time. It was good enough to publish but in the end they didn’t want a seventh date. In a way that’s good. If they were thinking about publishing it then the standard is up there. You just need to find someone who does want it. You can re-submit with confidence. Of course it took me a day of working the words of the letter over in my head, testing for deception before I came to that conclusion.

It was actually a really nice, encouraging letter. Or I can see that now I’m not hurt and annoyed! The publishers in question did indeed cite ‘it just doesn’t fit the overall mood of this anthology’ as their reason having had the piece to mull over for eight weeks. They also said that they ‘strongly recommended that I submit to them again. They loved my fresh, individual voice.’ They had several projects opening throughout the year and it was possible that the piece they had rejected this time would fit in with one of those better.

Looking at this logically this is not only an invitation to submit work but an invitation to submit the same piece of work. There really was nothing wrong with it other than it not fitting the mood. Ok so in dating terms that’s publisherize for ‘I still have feeling for my ex that I need to work through but I really like you. If you’re still free I’ll look you up.’ Which sucks. But it is also the best rejection letter I’ve received to date.

So if you’re fuming/ crying/ stamping around over a rejection letter I suggest putting it to one side and coming back to look at it with a bit more perspective later when you’ve calmed down. It may well turn out that you’ve misread the rejection code. And even if you haven’t you had the guts to put yourself out there. You know you can do it so onward and upward. Send it out again.