Personal Posts

I’ve Been Rejected

Hello friends, newcomers, etc. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. Rather, it’s been a long time since I felt I had something worth blogging about. Recently, I’ve had a spurt of poetry submissions flying from my desk. As I’ve said time and time again, I never thought of myself as a poet. Yet, that particular form seems to be the only one my mind is capable of creating as of late.

Thankfully, I’ve had some good luck. I have a poem coming out in a magazine. I also have a short story being published in an anthology. Did I mention I’m also getting paid for these publications? As many of my writer friends know, it’s hard to find a paid publication, especially ones that take on new, unsolicited manuscripts.

Even though I’ve had so many positive outcomes from my publishing pursuits, and I’ve made sure to document it all on social media, there’s something I haven’t really talked about with anyone.

For every one acceptance email/letter I receive, I get about 10 of these:

Why do I bring this up? Because I almost always post on  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. about all of my accomplishments. No one sees the rejections. While, yes, it is a good bit disheartening to see a rejection in my mailbox, I am proud of my rejections. I am not ashamed. I created something I felt was worthy of being read. I put it out in the world to be judged, knowing that it may get thrown out, and my work does get thrown out. A lot.

Have I been ashamed? Oh yes. Countless times I’ve seen a rejection and instantly regretted ever sending any work out. There are plenty of rejection letters that my friends, family, and readers will never hear about. However, I wonder sometimes what my writer friends think. I know I like their posts and cheer them on for every success, but what about when they feel like they’ve failed? I feel like I fail 10x more than I succeed. I don’t want them to feel like they are alone. I want them to be proud of those rejections. I also don’t want them to be afraid of rejection because rejections do happen, especially to those who achieve success. You can’t have rainbows without rain, and all that jazz.

Be proud. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Be writers.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Writing

9 Things you need to know before you start to query.

The QueryShark badge
Not too long ago, I wrote a post on how to format a manuscript. Then, I wrote a post on things you need to know to traditionally publish.

Now it is time to learn how to actually go about getting published.

The number one thing you need to learn to land an agent or publishing deal is to query.

What is a query you might ask?

The simplest way I can think to explain it is to go to your bookshelf/book pile, pluck your favorite book off the top, and take a look at the back cover or the inside flap where the description of the book is.

This is essentially a query.

It is a brief description of your book that will entice readers (or agents, or publishers) to read pages. It is your marketing plan without actually saying, “Please, oh please, read me.”

Want to know how to write a back cover blurb? Click here to read my tips and tricks!

90% of what you need to put in a query is what you would want to put on the back of your book. Here is what you need to know before you start querying:

  1. READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
    I can’t say this enough. There is an industry standard when it comes to querying, but that doesn’t mean every single agent will have the same exact guidelines. Like I’ve said before, the number one reason for rejection is not reading the guidelines and being auto-rejected because the agent feels you are wasting their time. If you couldn’t take the time to read the guidelines, how could you have taken the time to polish your manuscript? To polish the query you’re sending to them? Just do it. Those five minutes you spend reading guidelines could very well make the difference between a request for pages and a form rejection.
  2. YOU WILL BE QUERYING MORE AGENTS THAN PUBLISHING HOUSES
    That’s just how it is. Most publishers won’t take you on unless you are represented by an agent – someone who knows the business. They are the gatekeepers. So don’t be surprised when you go on the hunt for publishers and no one is taking unsolicited, unrepresented authors. It’s to protect them from the ever-growing slush pile agents are having to sift through. Plus, they don’t want to have any legal battles with an unrepresented author who may not understand certain contracts or conditions. It’s just the business.
  3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE PUBLISHING CREDITS
    You don’t. They’re nice, sure, but you don’t have to have them. Don’t make it out like it is a huge deal either. Just at the end of your query, before your closing, simply put (… this is my first novel.) Simple. You aren’t the focus in a query. Your manuscript is. Don’t get hung up on the finer details.
  4. EDIT YOUR QUERY AS MUCH AS YOU EDITED YOUR NOVEL
    A standard query should be one page long. No more. Granted, there are exceptions, but for the most part, you shouldn’t go past a page. You want to take your novel, strip it down to the bare, bare bones without giving away the ending and there is your query. It sounds easier than it actually is. You should have as many revisions of your query as you did your novel. If you haven’t even revised your novel, don’t write a query. Want tips on editing a query? Click here!
  5. DON’T QUERY UNTIL THE NOVEL IS DONE
    You’re querying for a deal. In exchange for this deal of representation, you provide a finished and polished novel.
  6. MOST QUERIES SHOULD BE IN THIRD PERSON
    Even if your novel is in first-person, most first person queries are seen as gimmicks. What is third person? He, she, it. He did this. She said this. It did such and such.
  7. FORMATTING (SOLELY FOR EMAILS. READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTION. SHOULD BE PASTED IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL)
    Dear Agent Name,Ashley Judd insertdramaticvoiceandstunningrevelationsoftriumphloveandacceptance, yatta yatta, blah, blah, blah.

    THE DRAMATIC VOICE AND STUNNING REVELATIONS is a horror novel complete at 45,000 words. It is my debut novel.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Alyssa Hubbard

  8. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR MANUSCRIPT, LINKS, OR ATTACHMENTS IF QUERYING BY EMAIL
    Certain spam filters hate links and attachments. Any and all queries, if requested by email, should be put into the body of the email. It shouldn’t be a wall of text. Make some white space. Don’t include anything that isn’t requested by the agent. Do not submit to an agent that just wants your full manuscript without prior query. That should be a red flag. A synopsis is fine, but only if it is in the guidelines.
  9. READ AS MANY QUERIES AS POSSIBLE
    The best way to learn how to write is to write and to read. The best way to learn to query is to read and write queries. My favorite query website is QueryShark. It’s a wonderful place to read bad queries, their revisions, and an actual agent’s feelings on queries. That blog is an extremely valuable tool that I visit quite often. You should, too.

How do you feel about these tips? Are you query ready? Have you queryed before? What has been your experience? Let me know, and comment below.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
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Personal Posts

What your desk says about you

As a writer, we all have our special place. The place we feel the most creative and inspired, the place where writing is as easy as breathing, and mine just happens to be my desk.

The Creative Space
The Creative Space

This is my desk. My laptop next to my notepad, a cereal bowl, a coke with my name on it, a TV, and if I had moved a few more inches back you’d see my PS4. Something about this area is just me. I’ve written all of my books at my desk, and what about you? What is your area of choice?

What does your area say about you? Let me know, and comment below! Pictures are always fun, too.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

Writing

Want to traditionally publish? Here are 8 things you need to know.

  1. Don’t post your work online.
    I made this mistake, and I see many others make this mistake. If you want to send your work out to agents and traditional publishers, don’t post it online! It is considered previously published if you do so, and this includes on your own blog, etc. Granted, every publisher and agent has its own opinion as to what “previously published” actually means, but I find it best to avoid posting it all together. Want critiques? It is best to go through private channels (i.e. email, beta groups with a private setting, etc.). Better yet, just pass around physical copies to people you know.
    But of course, as my dear friend Ann pointed out in the comment section, you can remedy this a bit. You can edit. Edit it to the point where there is little connecting the two pieces, thus, you have created something new. I have done this with a lot of older pieces. It works especially well when recycling works. Keep this in mind if you find a lot of your work fits into the “previously published” category. But keep in mind, this isn’t always a sure fix. Don’t rely too much on recycling. It’s always best just to keep the work off of the web from the start.
  2. Read the submission guidelines thoroughly.
    The number one reason for rejection is because people did not read the submission guidelines. Don’t make this careless mistake. It is easily avoided. Most people assume that if they follow the standard manuscript format, they’re in the clear, but every publisher works differently. Don’t assume the standard can just be passed around anywhere. Just read the damn guidelines.
  3. Most publishers require a writer to be represented.
    Publishers feel a writer needs to have representation to be considered for publication, which protects them as well as you. Find agents, submit to them, then they will help you submit to publishers. But remember, agents think like publishers. Agents aren’t going to take on just anybody, and they have rules just like publishers, so read the damn submission guidelines and you may save yourself from a rejection.
  4. Most publishers don’t like simultaneous submissions.
     Simultaneous submission – a submission which has been sent to multiple organizations at the same time. It sucks, but they do it so they’re not wasting time on a manuscript that could be picked up any minute. Here’s an example: Let’s say I send you a manuscript for publication consideration. You’re in the middle of it and you think it is damn sexy. This is quite possibly the sexiest manuscript you have ever read in your life, and right before you can tell me how much you love it, I send you this email:
    Sorry, not sorry, I signed a contract with someone else. Peace.
    Yeah, not cool.
    I know it sucks waiting around for, quite possibly, a rejection when you could be submitting to other places and increasing your chances, but there is a reason they do it. Don’t burn bridges by being an asshole and not following the rules.
  5. Don’t lie about simultaneously submitting a manuscript or its status as being previously published.
    The worst thing you can do is lie, other than not following the submission guidelines, but we’ve already talked about that. Wanna burn some bridges real quick? Go ahead and lie to a publisher. It pays to have friends in this business. It only takes a second for a publisher to find out if you’re lying. A quick google search of your manuscript, boom, there is your story posted for all the world to see. Those are potential customers they are missing out on because you’re just giving the work away for free. Why would someone pay for something they already can get for free? Definitely not a publisher or an agent. And don’t get yourself stuck by lying about simultaneously submitting. What if two publishers want your work, what then? You’re going to have to tell one you don’t want it. It’s going to piss people off real quick, and information like that spreads fast. Just be honest and do what you’re supposed to. Follow the rules.
  6. It can take months before you hear back. Don’t pester. Be patient.
    With the increase of technology, publishers have become more accessible to a much wider base of writers than when most submissions were solely through the mail. This means they’re getting mass amounts of submissions on a daily basis, and sifting through that slush pile takes a long time, especially when they have to find something worth publishing. Unfortunately, unless your name is Stephen King, your manuscript will be somewhere in that slush pile. Don’t be offended, that’s just how it is now. Just wait it out. Most publishers will give you a general wait period in their submission guidelines, as well as a time you can inquire about your manuscript if you haven’t heard back — just one more reason to actually read the damn submission guidelines.
  7. Sometimes, you just won’t hear back.
    The way things are now, with such a large slush pile, you may never hear back, which you can take as a rejection. There’s no point in writing them. If you’ve already inquired, and they’ve rejected your work, at least you heard back. If you wrote them, and they still haven’t responded, just move on. They’re too busy to reject you. There’s no point in dwelling on it.
  8. If you are rejected, do not argue with the publisher/agent.
    I don’t care if they called it garbage, called you garbage, and danced on your mother’s grave, you need to be the bigger person. I don’t mean you have to send them a “Thank You” note or anything. Just move on. There have been way too many horror stories involving writers fighting with publishers over being rejected. They took the time to reject you. They don’t even have to do that. It sounds strange, but you should be thankful they took the time to reject you. Don’t become one of those horror stories that gets passed around the internet every week. You’ll burn every bridge in the business, and you can kiss any chance at traditional publication good-bye.

So, how do you feel about this list? Does it upset you? Does it all make sense? Are you trying your hand at traditional publication? Have you been successful? Have you experienced any of these things? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE