I have to be honest: I was crushed when my entry wasn’t chosen to be in the top fifty. I thought my entry was amazing, and it was–just not for the place I submitted it. All of that advice that led me to believe I’d started the book in the wrong place, that the opening line wasn’t strong enough, that there was too much backstory, and that the hero and heroine didn’t meet soon enough was great advice for the publisher I was targeting. When they announced some people had to pull out or were disqualified and they were choosing a few more, I saw a chance at redemption. Perhaps someone had liked my story enough to take a chance on it. In the end, this wasn’t to be, either. So I had a decision to make: revise to fit the publisher and try again or work towards getting a different publisher.
At some point after a rejection with no more explanation than a form “not what we’re looking for at this time,” the author has to decide if the manuscript itself needs fixing or if they are targeting the wrong agents/editors/publishers for the manuscript. Looking over what I wrote in the frenetic time of the competition, I realized that my book wasn’t targeted to the wrong line; it was just bad.
Pleasure’s Payne is a great story. It focuses on a young woman who has recently lost her father and may lose the company he worked so hard to build to a board that doesn’t believe she can be a leader. Her father’s best friend and former fiancée are plotting against her. She is just trying to preserve what she has–until she meets the hero. The hero doesn’t want to get involved with another damaged woman after what happened last year. He knows that the heroine wouldn’t be interested in him if she knew about last year, and his association with her can add fuel to the incompetency fire regarding her ability to lead the company, but someone has to help her. The things they face together while trying to restore their faith and find meaning in their shattered lives brings them together in such a sweet way. The story excites me so much. Too bad it needs a LOT of work.
It turns out those editors are right. There IS too much backstory at the beginning. It DOES start in the wrong place. There are also some plot inconsistencies, shifting POV confusions, and sequence problems that need to be worked out in the revision process, not to mention some extensive editing to fix the tense in some areas and make better word choices in others. Being defiant and self-publishing my masterpiece in its current state wouldn’t do me any favors.
Learning how to incorporate constructive criticism, give yourself time to revise and edit to a polished work, and writing queries, pitches, and synopses that will hook the right person is not an exact science, and neither is knowing when to self-publish. I’d like to think I’m learning how to make my writing the best it can be, and send it in where it should be sent. This time I only got it half right, but someday soon, I’ll light upon the right combination that leads to getting my books in reader’s hands.
How do you decide to revise, self-publish, or discard? Any tips for writers new to submitting?
- Before I Got My Agent (katebrauning.com)
- Understanding the ‘Tolkien effect’ – and making it work for you (mjwrightnz.wordpress.com)
- We Had a Good Run… (copywrite1985.wordpress.com)
- Levels of “No,” or Why I Reject Manuscripts (nepheletempest.wordpress.com)
- Manuscript Rejection: Who Needs It? (mblountchristian.wordpress.com)
- The one where I make myself crazy revising story structure (aletteratatime.wordpress.com)