Time to Rewrite

I have a novel that I completed months ago. I think it’s a good story. It’s a nice romance with some funny stuff in it. I paid close attention to the development of the characters and I researched historical information that I included. It’s also accurate in its description of the town where it takes place because it’s a place I know well. So why have I already garnered so many rejections from publishers and agents? I have a feeling I’m not the only one to ask that question.

We all like to think that what we write is perfect, and that other people should be falling all over it and knocking down our doors to get their hands on it. Wouldn’t that be nice? The truth is sometimes difficult to face. Maybe after months of submissions to a long list of publishers and agents and the matching list of rejections from same, it’s time to step back and take a look at what is missing in the story. That’s what I’m faced with right now.

Mine is a sweet story and it does have a message, and maybe there is a publisher out there who is looking for just such a manuscript. But I knew something was wrong when more than one publisher has requested the entire manuscript after reading the first three chapters, but then rejects it. What this tells me is that I have the beginning right, with enough of a hook to get someone to read it, but something is missing.

So, it’s rewrite time for me. I’m going to take a closer look at the entire book and see if I can add more suspense, or a mystery, or a bigger message, or something. Right now, I’m in the “thinking” stage trying to decide on the direction I will take. I look at this as my continuing education as a writer.
No one ever said that writing was an easy job. Oh, the ideas might come fast and furious and the actual writing can be quite satisfying, but I want to share that writing and the ideas within it to all the readers that I can touch.

If you have been through this too, let me just encourage you to never give up. There is one thing that I have had to do at certain times over the years that might help you also. I never tell people that I want to be a writer. I don’t say that I’m trying to be a writer. I write. Therefore, published or not, I am a writer! Say it proudly and get back to work.

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Know Your Readers

Well, I have been rejected … again. I did get a publisher to take a look at my novel manuscript after sending a query, but it didn’t fit her needs. You would think that rejection might fuel an emotion in me such as anger or depression, or the feeling of “why do I bother?” The first rejections I ever had probably did make me a little depressed, but over the years I’ve had many and while I certainly would prefer an acceptance, I know that rejections are part of the job.

A writer has to trust the editor, whether that person is screening manuscripts for a novel, features for a magazine, or an anthology of selected poems or short stories. Each editor must stay true to the requirements and the character of the writing he or she needs.

Having been an editor myself, I know of what I speak. I wrote for and was editor of a national travel publication for several years. I often received queries and feature articles from writers, and in all that time there was only one writer who ended up with a byline in the magazine and is still doing a regular feature for it after all these years. (Yes, the competition is brutal.)

What set her apart? For starters, she understood our audience, in addition to being a darn good writer. While I often got submissions that were well written and interesting, they didn’t fit or advance our editorial purpose. And knowing the feeling that rejection can bring, I sometimes found it difficult to turn down some of those writers, especially those that showed promise.

I read pieces about “my best vacation” and “the trip from hell” or “the most beautiful waterfall in the world;” you name it, people wrote about it, and submitted it. But those writers did not take the time to discover who our readers were. We did not cater to the armchair travelers, the families taking the kids on a summer trip, or that adventurous couple looking for a place to hike through the mountains.

The magazine is still in publication today and has stayed true to its mission. The readers are not the leisure travelers, but the people who organize trips and conduct group tours for them. Many of those group tours are also made up of senior citizens, so tours must be organized with their abilities and needs in mind. You can see how knowing all that would be important to understanding the needs of the editor.

Writers who want to break into print in any publication must know the readers. This isn’t new news, so why do so many writers ignore it? The magazine writer must study the guidelines and read the publication. The book author needs to read a publisher’s guidelines and some of its previously published books. That’s part of the job; do it! It might cut down on some of those rejections.

Good luck!