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closetopublishbutnot
07-12-2009, 07:11 PM
Hello all. I recently submitted to a publisher that is on this site. I will not name it don't want to stir up the pot too much. I am not interested in insulting them. I just wanted to get feedback.
When do you know when not to change or to disregard advice from a publisher?
I am guilty of the "sins" that some newbies have-too many povs, telling instead of showing, maybe stiff dialogue. I recognize this and will work to change/edit. But I found other comments to be highly subjective.

I recently submitted a book and was told this: (My book is women's fiction with romantic elements))

Heroes and heroines should always be happy with themselves even in dire circumstances.- One publisher who shall remain unnamed.

No one wants to read a book that has problems in it or unhappiness, not in this economy. People want to read to relax and enjoy. - another publisher not to be named.

Personally, a book where the heroes are always "happy" would not be one that I would want to read.
I believe in character development. Unhappiness and growth make for an interesting story.
I didn't think that "always" existed as far as fictional characters were concerned.
This is just an opinion. (I know some one will be ready to rip my head off when they read this.) I tread carefully.

I am not writing to be a staunch supporter of brain dead women or fake men that don't exist. I guess that is the beauty of fairy tales.

I guess that's why I like the books that are in Oprah's book clubs even though they are called "misery" books. So shoot me.

dawinsor
07-12-2009, 07:21 PM
How can you have a plot if there are no problems? Generally, writers are in the business of being mean to their characters.

Perhaps the comments you quote were aimed at your ending. Is that in some way satisfying even if not totally happy? Certaintly there are books with devastating endings but I suspect they're a harder sell. Once reader invest in characters, they usually want some sliver of hope for them.

2Wheels
07-12-2009, 07:31 PM
All you have here, is one publisher's opinions. If said publisher failed to state that they only want "happy people" in their stories, then that's something they should have in their submission requirements. They either failed to make that clear up front, or you failed to read the requirements. The other thing you should have done is check their current author/publication list to see whether what you've written fits in with their track record. That can give you a big clue as to whether they're likely to be interested in your MS.

Don't take this personally, or assume that this is what every publisher wants in their relationship/romance stories, because if so, a large chunk of writers would be dead in the water. Take the useful, constructive comments about the dialogue and POV's etc and work with them; those deal with the mechanics, and are fixable. The story is what the story is, so take the subjective rest with a large pinch of salt and move on.

Leigha
07-12-2009, 07:48 PM
I understand how you feel. Last week I was close to taking my entire writitng and delete it and throw it away.
I was told that because I was not and not a professional writer I would be a difficult sell, maybe I needed to take classes first.
I was also told that vampires (Which my main character is a half vampire) is overdone and no one is looking for them anymore. Was even told that no ones wants another same old vamp love story. Mine is so far from the ones he was refrencing it was crazy but enough to make me doubt myself.
I recieved encouraging words from people on here and also a response to one of my querys that they wanted a partial.
My suggestion, allthough I am new too, is to not take what they have to say to heart. it is their job to be tough on us and to be picky. I suppose with every human, some can be more rude than others. Just try not to let it get you down, and if you need a bit of advice or just to reassure yourself so far I think this is a pretty good place for that.
Good Luck!

motormind
07-12-2009, 08:02 PM
Did you really get those comments? They are astonishingly dumb. I'd not bother with them anymore, since they clearly don't know what they're talking about.

colealpaugh
07-12-2009, 08:08 PM
They are astonishingly dumb.

What I was thinking...

Birol
07-12-2009, 08:32 PM
Guys, let's try to keep this thread going as an opportunity to discuss and learn, rather than turning it into a publisher bash fest.

The OP received those comments when their manuscript was rejected. They admit their manuscript has problems. Per my understanding of the original post, the question on the table is, how do you evaluate and weight a publisher's comments when you receive a rejection? When do you take the comments to heart and work to revise your manuscript and when do you accept that some comments are subjective and should not necessarily send you back to the revision table?

ChristineR
07-12-2009, 08:36 PM
Gosh, I'm "no one!" That sucks.

These comments are just so weird that I don't know what to make of them. Not even formula romance novels forbid their heroes from feeling doubt and despair once in a while. And the usual claim about the economy is that people want escapist books with ridiculously evil villains and shining heroes and heroines who triumph over incredible problems and unhappiness in very unlikely and clever ways. Maybe the publisher means that these are general trends to be aware of, or maybe the publisher means that this what they are looking for. Or maybe he/she is just crazy.

Edit to add:

Okay, cross-posted with Birol. But these comments are just too weird to be helpful. If the book is persistently unhappy and the heroes are wracked by extreme self-doubt, then it really just sounds like the publisher didn't like the book. Not every book has to fit a certain mold, and these comments are really confusing.

Ken
07-12-2009, 08:56 PM
No one wants to read a book that has problems in it or unhappiness.... People want to read to relax and enjoy.

... back when I was scouting about for an agent I got pretty much the same words of wisdom from an agent at a top agency. If all agents and editors shared this philosophy there would be no Rushdies or Salingers. So just scratch that publisher off the list and sub elsewhere.

Ms.rachel
07-12-2009, 09:03 PM
I agree that on their own the comments are a tad strange, however I would wonder if what they were getting at was that you were maybe over doing these things in your book. Over the top, beating a dead horse, type problems and woo is me type characters .

So maybe while you are editing keep this in mind. And ultimately go with your gut, it's your project!

good luck!

Kalyke
07-12-2009, 09:10 PM
Well it sounds like it is the wrong publisher for your particular book.

Historically, depressions and other economic problems have yielded both very dark problem novels and also very light hearted escapist fare-- The depression was a very prolific period in American novels and I feel that many of the greatest novels were about the down and out victims of the economy. Even the recession of the 70's yielded a lot of dark problem literature and scripts.

So these publishers do not have a grasp on history.

I do agree that at the end the MC should overcome the problems, and the reader should care that he/she does.

RG570
07-12-2009, 09:16 PM
I wish I could come up with a constructive way to read that rejection, but I think it's the kind of thing a person just has to shake their head at and be thankful that you didn't end up working with such people. Imagine being accepted, only to have them demand a bunch of asinine changes to get rid of some "problems." A bad publisher is worse than none.

I also wish my internal censor had allowed me to keep the comments I had written about certain agents in this thread, but I'll play nice.

Ken Schneider
07-12-2009, 09:22 PM
First, it is unprofessional to bash someone/agent publisher, due to a rejection.

People talk at conferences, and meeting, and the publishing world is smaller than one might think. Word gets around about snarky comments from writers after rejections.

You must be professional when submitting work. These editors and agents read thousands of submissions per month. They know what's good and what's not.
Rejection is part of writing, and for agents, selling books to publishers who reject a work the agent thinks is good. We all face rejection and learn from it. Building a thick writing skin takes time, and so does becoming a polished writer. When you've written your tenth complete novel, 100,000 words per, then start expecting to get accepted. until then hone your craft. It's not an overnight happening, it takes work, and lots of it.
A piece of work you construct is for sale, just like a wooden craft at the flee market. Sell it and make some more. Your story is not your baby, it's like wooden craft to be sold. Truth be told, some of us don't saw and paint so well, yet. But practice makes perfect.

From what I'm hearing from the publishing circles, you're lucky to get a response these days, let alone a comment. Postage cost et al.

I haven't read your whole story, so I can't speak to that part of it.

Send it on to the next person on your submission list, and practice sawing and painting.

Mr Flibble
07-12-2009, 09:22 PM
No one wants to read a book that has problems in it or unhappiness.... People want to read to relax and enjoy.


Heroes and heroines should always be happy with themselves even in dire circumstances.

Really?

I find that hard to believe

However, this could be the pub's way of saying you have too much angst, too much despair. The overall tone of your story is not right for them. But it was a tad of a misleading way to say it, because it comes across as...er....unrealistic? *tries to think of book where everyone is happy, but fails miserably*

Pretty much I think it means that you and 'fluffy bunny, everyone's happy, lets all have a pink,fluffy party' publisher are not a good fit.

It also means I'd probably never buy any of their books, or if I did I'd stab them in frustration at everyone's happiness and lack of conflict, but hey.

scope
07-12-2009, 10:50 PM
The way I see it, you should consider suggested revisions if you believe they will improve your work, and/or in some cases make it more salable to agents and/or editors -- without destroying its integrity.

Since I think the remarks made by this publisher are silly, I'd just forget about them and move on.

Chasing the Horizon
07-12-2009, 11:04 PM
I got some incredibly silly feedback from a publisher once too. I think they must type before they've had their morning coffee sometimes, lol. Don't worry about it and just move on. :)

raburrell
07-12-2009, 11:10 PM
Good doctors occasionally kill people, engineers occasionally design bridges that fall down, and publishers occasionally have brain farts that result in rejection letters like those. Easier to move on from the last problem ;) Good luck with the MS elsewhere!

Joking aside, there are romance imprints that do stick to 'fluffier' material. Personally, the stuff makes me want to slit my wrists, but there's a huge market for it. We all have to find & respect our niches.

eta again: If the comments had been worded as "Our readers don't want" instead of "No one wants", I'd imagine they'd have been better received.

JRTurner
07-12-2009, 11:19 PM
I have no idea if this is the case with the OP's manuscript, but what those comments brought to mind is something I've encountered time and time again helping other writers. The TSTL character.

This (usually) heroine has a best friend who stabs her in the back, an abusive family, inlaws that hate her guts, coworkers who are out to get her and an ex that either abused her, cheated on her, or both.

In other words--this heroine couldn't recognize character if it slapped her in the face. Unless she's been brought up in a town full of Satanists who are grooming her as a virgin sacrifice, then she is totally responsible for having every relationship in her entire life fail and that makes her a Too Stupid To Live character.

Again, I'm not saying this has anything at all to do with the OP's manuscript--I'm completely clueless as to why that particular work generated those sort of statements. I just thought it was worth noting (and warning newer authors) to stay away from the character who surrounds herself with people who hate her. (Or, if she's a paranoid schizophrenic it might ring true--but even then, many have people who love them/are good friends ;))

Warmly,
Jenny:)

dawinsor
07-12-2009, 11:21 PM
If these were my comments, the thing that would concern me is that two different publishers seemed to suggest the book was too bleak. Or maybe they didn't. It's hard to tell.

The way to deal with comments is to take what good you can from them and let the rest go. Sometimes what you take is a discovery of an underlying issue, even though the solution the comments suggests is all wrong for you.

Cyia
07-12-2009, 11:25 PM
I recently submitted a book and was told this: (My book is women's fiction with romantic elements))

Heroes and heroines should always be happy with themselves even in dire circumstances.- One publisher who shall remain unnamed.

No one wants to read a book that has problems in it or unhappiness, not in this economy. People want to read to relax and enjoy. - another publisher not to be named.




Sounds to me like you subbed it to the wrong market. Did you submit to a romance or predominantly romance publisher? Their guidelines are a bit different and from the ones I've seen, usually stipulate "happily ever after".

Sean D. Schaffer
07-12-2009, 11:26 PM
Don't worry about the comments. Just submit to another house and keep going.

Although I will say that the very fact you got a comment at all is, from what I've seen, a lot more positive than receiving a form rejection. So for that, believe it or not, congratulations. A rejection with a comment is a step in the right direction.


Blessed Be. :)

ORION
07-12-2009, 11:29 PM
It's a rejection...move on...sometimes it's just a way of saying no. If the publisher had said no and NOT given you a reason -- you would be agonizing over that--
They're just not that into you.
Personally you can't trash someone's reason -especially a publisher-- the reason for this thread (novel writing) is to learn and improve. Both good books and bad books get rejections.
If you think there is some merit in the publishers comments then go to a workshop or work with a couple critical readers...But it's more than useless to criticize a person's reasons for not liking a manuscript.

FOTSGreg
07-13-2009, 12:12 AM
First, please note this is not intended to offend anyone and is not targeted at anyone in particular.

Sometimes, well, most of the time actually, we are our own worst critics. We know how hard we work on our writing. We know how wonderful it is. We know that our babies should be received by everyone with rapt attention and applause.

It just ain't so.

When I read comments like "Mine was so far away...", "they just didn't understand...", "they couldn't have read...", etc., etc., I start to cringe.

Yes, we love our babies, but we're not the best judges of the merits of our own work. One or two friends as beta readers probably aren;t the best judges either. Our friends and family tend to be rather reluctant to hurt our feelings by telling us "This sucks...", "that's just stupid...", or "Don't give up your day job...". It hurts, believe me, but our friends and family won't tell us what they really think.

Editors and agents will, however. It's part of what they get paid to do.

Some of the people down in the SYW forums will tell you too (nicely and constructively most of the time).

Do not rely on a a beta read by a friend. Do not rely on what you think about your writing. It may be brilliant. It may be total crap. But you need to develop a thick skin and tell your beta readers that they have to be honest with you and you have to become able to look at your work with a more objective eye, eventually.

Finally, if an agent or editor tells you it's not for them, move on to the next one. There are thousands of them out there and what is sauce for one goose is not necessarilysauce for another gander.

Ken Schneider
07-13-2009, 12:23 AM
Sorry Greg, I have to disagree with the baby comment. Writing is a job.

See my post upstream for that explaination.

LeighGarvey
07-13-2009, 01:02 AM
Yes Ken writing is a job.

However, most people who write have a passion for reading. Writing is a creation of something that is a part of yourself.

I don't see how someone can write a story where they don't have any connection to the character or plot line. A writer has to love their story to make it a good read. Writing is a job but it's also a passion, and with passion comes pain when our love is criticized.

FOTSGreg
07-13-2009, 01:02 AM
Writing is a job, yes, and it needs to be treated more as a job and less as a hobby as all too many of us treat it all too much of the time. However, our finished works are our gems, our jewels, our babies, to use a series of metaphors that are heavily overused.

Even at our day jobs, when our work is finished, we are rightfully proud of what we have accomplished. It is right to be proud of our accomplishments, but not to be so filled with pride about them that we cannot accept constructive criticism about our work or the way it was accomplished or what the end product produced.

That's really all I'm saying.

jclarkdawe
07-13-2009, 01:05 AM
You're probably not going to like me.

First off, as Ken Schneider says, it's not good to bash people, regardless of who they are.

Second of all, I haven't read your story, which means I've got some limits here as to translating the editors comments. I can think of several meanings.

Third, editors are not required to give you feedback. The reason we're not getting feedback from agents is that agents are tired of justifying their comments. Things like this will stop editors from doing the same thing. Further, you have two very consistent comments. Definitely time to listen.

Fourth, I'm assuming you're trying to write commercially viable fiction. Literary has a bunch of exceptions, although exceptions are what proves the rule. And you can bet the long shots in horse racing all you want, financially you'll do better betting the favorite.


Hello all. I recently submitted to a publisher that is on this site. A statement that is not needed. I will not name it don't want to stir up the pot too much. But you definitely want to stir the pot. I am not interested in insulting them. Then why are you putting this stuff here. It isn't needed. I just wanted to get feedback. Based upon your previous three sentences, clearly not true. You could have skipped this entire paragraph if you just wanted feedback.

When do you know when not to change or to disregard advice from a publisher? Simple answer, whenever you want. Real answer is when you can understand what the advice is and why it does or does not work for your book. You can decide that you don't want your book to be commercially viable, although you'd better also understand that the chances of being published with someone else footing the bill just went downhill drastically. People don't want to invest in other people's visions, they want to invest in something that will make them money.

I am guilty of the "sins" that some newbies have-too many povs, telling instead of showing, maybe stiff dialogue. I recognize this and will work to change/edit. But I found other comments to be highly subjective. Writing is highly subjective. Duh! People are entitled to decide for any reason, including they don't like how you format your manuscript, to reject you. But these comments are too consistent to be subjective.

I recently submitted a book and was told this: (My book is women's fiction with romantic elements))

Heroes and heroines should always be happy with themselves even in dire circumstances.- One publisher who shall remain unnamed. Some one upstream described this as the person who's too stupid to live. Even Hannibal Lector liked himself (we might not, but that's a different issue). Bottom line is a character, even in the depths of the disasters, must fundamentally like themselves. They have to have hope that their life will improve.

Without having read your book it's hard to decide how this applies, but it's clearly a concrete, although not well phrased (editor has no requirement to explain himself/herself clearly at this point) opinion. I know what I'd be looking for in your manuscript based upon this comment.

The only part that is subjective about it is that it's based upon the opinion you want to publish a commercial viable piece of fiction. If you don't want to do that, while you and this editor obviously have a different view of the business.

No one wants to read a book that has problems in it or unhappiness, not in this economy. People want to read to relax and enjoy. - another publisher not to be named. Again, this is concrete, although difficult to be sure of without reading your book. My guess is that you have a book with a negative ending. Can negative endings work? Absolutely, but usually not with commercially viable fiction.

I'm not sure whether you submitted through an agent or direct. But clearly you and the editors have a difference of opinion of what your book is about and its potential market. I don't know if the editors are right about the ultimate marketability of your book, but I sure wouldn't ignore what they're saying. In looking at publishers, you need to look at their line of books to determine what they like.

Personally, a book where the heroes are always "happy" would not be one that I would want to read. Which I don't think either editort is implying in the way you're thinking of it.

I believe in character development. Unhappiness and growth make for an interesting story. And I bet both of these editors would agree.

I didn't think that "always" existed as far as fictional characters were concerned. Actually there are several absolutes about characters.

This is just an opinion. (I know some one will be ready to rip my head off when they read this.) I tread carefully. I have no problem with you asking what these comments mean. I do have a problem with the fact that you're saying the editors were wrong and unclear in making them.

I am not writing to be a staunch supporter of brain dead women or fake men that don't exist. I guess that is the beauty of fairy tales. Fairy tales are not meant for well developed characters. The reason fairy tales work is entirely different. And they've worked for centuries, and will continue to work for many more.

I guess that's why I like the books that are in Oprah's book clubs even though they are called "misery" books. And I'm wondering if there is a fundamental difference between Oprah's books and yours that you are not seeing. So shoot me.

I've learned that when someone tells me something is wrong, and I have the knee-jerk reaction that they're nuts, they're probably right. I think, especially knowing your book as well as you do, that you've been given some valuable advice. But until you make the effort to try to understand them, and apply it to your book, these editors wasted their time trying to help you.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Ken Schneider
07-13-2009, 01:08 AM
Yes Ken writing is a job.

However, most people who write have a passion for reading. Writing is a creation of something that is a part of yourself.

I don't see how someone can write a story where they don't have any connection to the character or plot line. A writer has to love their story to make it a good read. Writing is a job but it's also a passion, and with passion comes pain when our love is criticized.

True, but my point is you can't comtinue to hold on to that story as your baby through the submission process. You have to remove yourself from your work and start a new work, not linger on as if it were a pet project. Love it while you write it, and let it go.

Treating your writing like a job, makes you less thin skinned, is all.

FOTSGreg
07-13-2009, 01:14 AM
Ken, In that regard I agree with you. Too many people continue to treat any criticism of their works, once they're on the Ole' Submission Trail, as personal insults on their lives, integrity, and value as human beings.

cwfgal
07-13-2009, 02:11 AM
Hello all.
I recently submitted to a publisher that is on this site. I will not name it don't want to stir up the pot too much. I am not interested in insulting them. I just wanted to get feedback.
When do you know when not to change or to disregard advice from a publisher?
I am guilty of the "sins" that some newbies have-too many povs, telling instead of showing, maybe stiff dialogue. I recognize this and will work to change/edit. But I found other comments to be highly subjective.


If you recognize that your work has these problems then that should be your focus at this point. You don't want to submit unless these things are fixed.



I recently submitted a book and was told this: (My book is women's fiction with romantic elements))

Heroes and heroines should always be happy with themselves even in dire circumstances.- One publisher who shall remain unnamed.

No one wants to read a book that has problems in it or unhappiness, not in this economy. People want to read to relax and enjoy. - another publisher not to be named.


Rejections are a part of the writing life. As is doing your homework before you submit your work. It sounds like you submitted your work to publishers who don't produce that type of work. It doesn't meet their needs and isn't a good fit. That doesn't mean someone else won't like it.

I'm curious, why are you submitting to publishers instead of agents?



Personally, a book where the heroes are always "happy" would not be one that I would want to read.

But if you are writing for publication, you need to write something other people would want to read. If your goal is to simply write something you'd want to read, then you've got no problem. Granted, writing what you like to read is important in maintaining your passion for the work, but if it doesn't appeal to enough other readers, why would a publisher want to invest money in it? If you are writing for publication, you have to find the balance between these two goals. Writing for publication is a business. You are providing a product to a buyer. They have to want to buy it.




I believe in character development. Unhappiness and growth make for an interesting story.
I didn't think that "always" existed as far as fictional characters were concerned.
This is just an opinion. (I know some one will be ready to rip my head off when they read this.) I tread carefully.

I am not writing to be a staunch supporter of brain dead women or fake men that don't exist. I guess that is the beauty of fairy tales.

I guess that's why I like the books that are in Oprah's book clubs even though they are called "misery" books. So shoot me.

Again, I believe the key here is balance. If you are going to burden your main character with tons of misery and obstacles, then you need to balance that with a personality that will still keep people caring about the character, and balance the misery with "rewards" and growth. And as someone else mentioned, hard times, such as the economic situation we are experiencing now, does tend to make people want stories that offer some hope of redemption, some semblance of happiness, or at the least, progress. Modern day readers, who have a wealth of other options for entertainment and distraction, such as the Internet, TV, movies, etc., are a very different customer than Depression Era readers, who may have found escapism from their own plight by reading about someone else whose situation might have been worse. I'm betting a lot of readers back then also read uplifting fiction.

Think of the effect of phenomena like Susan Boyle. Today people love to see an underdog rise up and triumph.

But in the end, if you believe that what you've written is the only way it can be written, then stick with it. Just recognize that your convictions carry a certain level of risk, and that sticking to your guns may mean your writing never sees the light of day. Writing something profound and meaningful that you hope will impact people's thoughts, ideas, and lives does no good if no one ever reads it.

Find the balance.

Beth

Doodlebug
07-13-2009, 03:39 AM
I recently submitted a book and was told this:

First off, welcome to AW and congrats on finishing a book!! :welcome:

I'm just curious...was this a complete ms that the publisher read or just a query? If it was a query, maybe you should take a hard look at it. There is a great query thread here on AW where you can get feedback. It certainly was very helpful to me!

Also, you mentioned that this was a women's fiction book. That covers a lot of territory. What goes on in the story? If the publisher in question was, for example, Harlequin Romance, it wouldn't surprise me that they would want a happy ending. Like others have said, maybe your book just wasn't a good match.

Sometimes it is just impossible to know what the comments were intended to mean. But, personally, I always take it as a positive sign when I get specific comments about my subs. I've always been taught that a rejection with personal comments is way better than a simple form letter. It means that the publisher (or agent or whomever) liked what you wrote enough to give you some advice. Even if it wasn't advice that you found helpful.

Good luck! :)

Suzan
07-13-2009, 04:22 AM
Let's face it; rejection in this business is tough. You just have to get tougher. Writing is a vulnerable biz and there are moments (you know you've had 'em too), where you feel like you've opened up an artery and bled to death on the page and the agent reading it calls it "overwritten." Bad news is, they're probably right. Take what an agent or publisher has to say, give it a few days for the sting to subside and then mull it over. If you agree, use their critique to impove your manuscript. I will say that the best agents tend to point out a novels strengths as well as its weaknesses.
Suzan

James D. Macdonald
07-13-2009, 04:35 AM
Did either of the publishers offer to buy the book, or look at it again, if you made changes?

If not, why do you care what they said?

Write another book. A different book. A better book.

(Generally, I've found that when a reader says that there's a problem, she's right. When she says what the problem is, she's wrong.)

Doodlebug
07-13-2009, 04:14 PM
(Generally, I've found that when a reader says that there's a problem, she's right. When she says what the problem is, she's wrong.)

:ROFL:

bylinebree
07-13-2009, 04:45 PM
When you've written your tenth complete novel, 100,000 words per, then start expecting to get accepted. until then hone your craft.

This is fascinating. Just wondering -- is this speaking from your experience??

Sigh.

bylinebree
07-13-2009, 04:51 PM
You're probably not going to like me.

First off, as Ken Schneider says, it's not good to bash people, regardless of who they are.



We all agree on this. This new poster did not bash anyone, since he/she pointedly did not NAME the publisher. Venting and asking questions is a good exercise, here, and a way to LEARN.

New person (sorry that I don't have your user name before me!) - take heart. At least they gave you comments!! Just today, I got a second rejection saying "we just don't love the writing enough to represent it."
So hey...at least it was more specific, even if you don't agree with it.

Persevere, babe. Be open to learn & change. But persevere!

The Lonely One
07-13-2009, 05:24 PM
One or two friends as beta readers probably aren;t the best judges either.

..............

Do not rely on a a beta read by a friend.

Unless you keep friends who like to shove a stick of dynamite up your MS and see where the pieces land. I've got one of those.

jclarkdawe
07-13-2009, 05:31 PM
We all agree on this. This new poster did not bash anyone, since he/she pointedly did not NAME the publisher. Venting and asking questions is a good exercise, here, and a way to LEARN.

The original poster could have started his post by saying something positive by saying he'd received a rejection that he didn't understand and could someone please explain it. No, he didn't name names, but if I was the publisher who spent the time to give him an opinion, I'd be angry.

Further, it's unclear but definitely implied that one of these comments is from a publisher who's on this forum. That narrows down the potential players quite a bit.

Asking questions is always a good exercise. Venting in public in never a good exercise. Vent in private and always present yourself in a positive light. (I wish I could remember this rule.)

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

allenparker
07-13-2009, 05:55 PM
I recently submitted a book and was told this: (My book is women's fiction with romantic elements))

Heroes and heroines should always be happy with themselves even in dire circumstances.- One publisher who shall remain unnamed.

No one wants to read a book that has problems in it or unhappiness, not in this economy. People want to read to relax and enjoy. - another publisher not to be named.



Were these publishers Romance publishers?

If so, they will want a HEA ending. It is part of the recipe. Very few Romance novels end with the main characters dying, breaking up, or committing suicide. They expect for the main characters to have strong personalities capable of withstanding the mountain of troubles you heap on them. They are the tall pines trees, able to bend.

Perhaps it is the resolution and how that was accomplished they aare frowning about.

just a thought. I could be wrong...


As for our babies, Ken is right. As writers, we must be willing to dissect, slash, cut, rip, and destroy our "babies" in order to make them worthy of print. Who, in their right mind, would take a baby and do those things to them?

Phaeal
07-13-2009, 06:07 PM
I think the OT's amazement at these remarks, if quoted verbatim, is justified. All fiction, in every genre, requires problems to be solved and difficulties to be overcome, or what's the point? Most fiction also benefits from flawed heroes and heroines -- any character without flaws is not human (or an alien/other sympathetic to us flawed humans.) Even fictional gods are given flaws and foibles to make them interesting.

People LOVE to read about characters undergoing the tortures of the damned. People LOVE to read about imperfect characters struggling to win through both the trials of their circumstances and the trials of their own making -- probably especially the latter. In many commercial genres, however, romance being foremost, the tortures must turn to bliss at the end. The only way the quoted remarks make sense to me is if they apply to the end of the book.

I don't know. I've read a lot of books lately that weren't even close to sweetness and light. Really, the only thing I ask the writer to deliver is an endgame character who, like the Wedding Guest, "a sadder but a wiser man he [wakes] the morrow morn."

All that said, learn what you can from these and any rejections and move on. If you really want some karma points, write lovely notes to the publishers thanking them for taking the time to write comments and hoping you may work together in the future. I sure would.

Phaeal
07-13-2009, 06:13 PM
Originally Posted by Ken Schneider
When you've written your tenth complete novel, 100,000 words per, then start expecting to get accepted. until then hone your craft.


This is fascinating. Just wondering -- is this speaking from your experience??

Sigh.
__________________
Bree


OR...you could be Stephenie Meyer and hit big with your first try. It's a strange and wonderful and absurd and funky old world.

RickN
07-13-2009, 06:18 PM
... back when I was scouting about for an agent I got pretty much the same words of wisdom from an agent at a top agency. If all agents and editors shared this philosophy there would be no Rushdies or Salingers. So just scratch that publisher off the list and sub elsewhere.

Salinger and Rushdie?

We wouldn't even have Dr. Seuss. Every novel would a variation of "Goodnight Moon".

Mr Flibble
07-13-2009, 06:23 PM
Were these publishers Romance publishers?

If so, they will want a HEA ending. It is part of the recipe. Very few Romance novels end with the main characters dying, breaking up, or committing suicide. They expect for the main characters to have strong personalities capable of withstanding the mountain of troubles you heap on them. They are the tall pines trees, able to bend.

The ending should be happy yes.

But often romances ( or the ones I read anyway) have characters who, at the start, are fundamentally unhappy about some part of their life, or themselves. And the romance part - often love is painful. They aren't happy all the way through. That would be like eating a cup of sugar.

Now maybe these quotes are taken out of context, but they seem to imply that the characters should be happy with themselves at all times, and that they should have no problems in their lives / plot.

Which would seem....odd.

ETA: by which I mean, if I'm not happy do I want to read a book where everyone is happy and has no problems and runs round singing 'happy, happy, joy, joy'? It won't cheer me up. That's why problem pages are so popular- no matter how bad your life is, there's some poor sucker that has it waaay worse. ANd so I count my blessings and feel better. And I can't relate to someone who has no problems. They aren't real people! They are Mary Sues with added fluffy bits. *gags*

So IF these quotes are in context, they seem weird.

IceCreamEmpress
07-13-2009, 07:15 PM
Those don't seem like helpful comments to me, nor do they represent anything I understand about the current publishing industry.

Perhaps they make more sense in context, than as isolated sentences?

As others have said, there is no romance or women's fiction without problems. It's all about problems--the thing is, it's about overcoming problems and having the HEA (happy ever after) ending.

Now, as to the "happy with themselves" thing--again, this might make more sense in context. Self-loathing, though, is not appropriate for those genres.

ccarver30
07-13-2009, 08:25 PM
What the hell? Where do they live? Gumdrop Unicorn Fairy land? Life is not perfect and any book that reflected such would be tossed across the room. How is your character supposed to grow?

I guess I would have to read it to get a full view of what they are talking about, but it sure seems like they are taking it overboard...

By the way, I got a rejection today but the agent said it was due to her workload and not my novel. Hmm...

maestrowork
07-13-2009, 08:36 PM
To the OP: seems like you're targeting the wrong agent or publisher. Perhaps they are looking for more light-hearted chick lit or romance.

Once I sent a FULL (upon request) to an agent. Clearly she knew what my book was about. Clearly she had read my query and first 3 chapters before she requested a full. But no, she wrote back and said she expected something like John Grisham or Michael Chricton. I had a WTF moment when I received her rejection.

And then I moved on.

Good idea to do research and find agents who present the kind of books you write.

No need to dwell on rejections. Clearly you're a fit with them. Just move on.

djf881
07-13-2009, 08:39 PM
I am having similar problems. I don't understand what I could possibly be doing wrong.

Sean D. Schaffer
07-13-2009, 08:44 PM
I am having similar problems. I don't understand what I could possibly be doing wrong.


Do be so kind as to present this with a Coffee or Spew Warning so people don't have to replace their keyboards upon reading the letter you quoted.

Thank you.

Ken Schneider
07-13-2009, 08:48 PM
This is fascinating. Just wondering -- is this speaking from your experience??

Sigh.


No, James D. McDonald's

Uncle Jim said that. For most it takes that many written words to really start getting it.

There's a wealth of information on Learn Writing with Uncle Jim.

Any other questions?

Ken Schneider
07-13-2009, 08:56 PM
OR...you could be Stephenie Meyer and hit big with your first try. It's a strange and wonderful and absurd and funky old world.

But then again you'd have to be Stephanie, which most of us aren't.

lucidzfl
07-13-2009, 09:01 PM
I am having similar problems. I don't understand what I could possibly be doing wrong.

That was 9 parts awesome, and 1 part rad.

To the OP. You didn't specify what the publisher is looking for. You gotta realize that publishing is economy driven just like anything else.

I could have designed the coolest SUV with diamond wheels and 18 inch speakers and gold plated dashboards with a pricepoint of 40 grand but if it gets 9 mpg, no ones buying that concept...

What I wanna know is, how bleak did you make it?

My books have a serious mean streak. I view it as therapy. Perhaps no one will want to read it, but I'll just have to find out.

Doodlebug
07-14-2009, 03:52 AM
I am having similar problems. I don't understand what I could possibly be doing wrong.


:roll: Thanks! I really needed the laugh!!! (I sense an Oprah book in the making.)

Shweta
07-14-2009, 03:58 AM
Moved to Rejection and Dejection