Rejections Suck, But You Can Help

Rejections suck. They really, really suck. You would think that after you rejections have long-since stopped climbing into the double-digits that they would suck less, and you would think wrong.

But there are some things that make them suck less. So if you see me post on social media about a recent rejection that stung, or talk to me about it in a coffee shop, I have provided this handy guide to what helps when engaging me about rejections.

Things that help:

  • a good hug or cuddle
  • having my feelings that it sucks be acknowledged
  • probably just letting me playing video games for a day or two, including letting me out of social engagements guilt-free
  • being told that my writing is good, especially how I nailed [aspect]
  • being asked if there’s anything they can do to help (there isn’t, but the sentiment is really sweet)

Things that I find less-than-helpful:

  • being told that all writers get rejections (I know)
  • being told that [famous writer here] got lots of rejections (I Know)
  • being told that I just need to keep at it (I KNOW)

Thanks, all! With your unstanding and support I’ll be better able to just keep at it until I have as many rejections as [famous author] because all writers get rejections.

Revisions Process–Reading Through

This is the second post in my series about how I’m revising and resubmitting my novel in response to a R&R request from an agent. In my first post in the series, I talked about how I made myself a schedule to live by. This post will be about the next step in my process–reading my old manuscript.

One of the suggestions I live by for general revisions is to set the manuscript aside for a while and read it with fresh eyes. I found this of limited use on the first few passes. I just hadn’t forgotten enough of the story or grown enough as a writer for it to be more than a slightly useful refresher.

But this time, my manuscript had been sitting for months. Not only that, but I’d written a completely different novel and started a third novel in the interim. This time was much more useful.

I decided not to read my novel in Scrivener because I knew I’d be tempted to make ongoing, immediate changes while I was reading it. But I wanted to get a full, macro view of the story before deciding which changes would be necessary and how best to do them. I knew I would have to fight that temptation.

So I exported my novel to my Kindle, pulled out my legal pad, and decided to do things the old-fashioned way: notes by hand.

I do this a lot for the day job and it seems to really help with focusing on bigger picture. I first reviewed the feedback from the agent and noted things down in differently colored pens–purple for likes, red for needs improvement, and blue for my attempts to read between the lines. I wanted to have that as a quick reference while reading through the novel.

As I read, I took notes. Not massive quantities of minute notes: I tried to only make notes when something was questionable, a good area for a change, or was a typo. Again, I had out my whole set of colored pens. My brain just works better in color!

Chapter numbers went in purple boxes. A context note went in blue ink, so that I’d know where the change needed to go. The types of changes each merited a different color: red for typos, pink for possible changes responsive to the agent’s suggestions, and green for questions that I had for myself (usually about consistency). I knew that I wanted to save black for later strike-throughs on ideas I implemented or rejected.

The end result was 32 pages of handwritten notes.

Colored pen notes.

It was pretty intense. But in the end, I had a road map for the changes that I needed to make on revision, which proved invaluable in not getting myself bogged down in tiny details for the first pass of major story-level revisions.

Which I’ll talk about next week!

Revisions Process–Scheduling

As I’m getting deeper into the revise and resubmit process, I wanted to talk a little about how I’m going about this revision as a writer who has never professionally published before. Because it’s going to run a little long anyway, I’m going to break each part out for in-depth discussion. As you can see from the title, this first post is about scheduling.

Anyone who has visited my day job office knows that I’m a creature of checklists. I must have a process laid out for how I’m going to approach something, or everything will turn into a hot mess. Combine this with my belief in the importance of reputation (if I say I’m going to do something, I had better keep my promise) and you can imagine how important it was for me to engage in some serious time management before I even gave the agent an estimate of when I would get back to her.

Doing some basic research on revisions, I came up widely varying estimations of how long revisions should take. The median seemed to be consistent with a two-month figure, so I picked that as my base. I thought that, with pushing myself, I could likely get this done and resubmitted within two months.

Then I told the agent I’d get the revision back within “a few months” because hey, this is my first time, I had better give myself some wiggle room.

Looking at my two-month figure, I decided what tasks I wanted to accomplish. I gave myself 1 week to read and take notes on possible changes, 4 weeks for major revisions, 2 weeks with my new betas (while I would work on minor sentence-level revisions and typo hunting), and 2 weeks for beta feedback. It ran a little over, but I hoped I could shave some time in the “reading” and “post-beta” parts.

Seems simple enough, right?

Except I realized about a week in that I forgot to account for some major life events. My brother is home from Amsterdam over the US Independence Day holiday. I have a major vacation planned for the end of July. These things are slightly important to getting my revisions back to the agent when I said I would. So I had to make adjustments. I ended up with three weeks on the major revisions and trying to push my betas to get back to me sooner, while hoping to do some serious work on the micro revisions in the mean time. In the end, I have a schedule that looks cramped, but I think I can stick with it.

Anyway, that was my basic process for arranging my revisions process. Like my archery instructor said–a whole lot of life is about completing a process. Having this process outlined in advance will hopefully save me time in the long run.