It’s time for another IWSG Post. Insecure Writers Support Group is an online group of writers (a wonderful and supportive writing community) posting on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG is a place where we members can talk away our writing worries and anxieties, may be grumble about the injustice of the publishing journey. We are confident that other writers grappling with similar issues and insecurities are in the same rocky boat. IWSG is not just about venting out our writerly frustrations, it’s also a place where we can learn, grow, support and encourage each other to keep writing, inspite of all the odds stacked against us.
Ninja Captain, Alex J Cavanaugh (the author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm and CassaFire and the upcoming Dragon of the Stars ) created this awesome and inspiring group. The IWSG website is a wonderful resource for writers.
My awesome co-hosts for the April 1 posting of the IWSG are Suzanne Furness,Tonja Drecker, Toi Thomas, Fundy Blue and Donna Hole.
My awesome co-hosts for the April 1 posting of the IWSG are Suzanne Furness,Tonja Drecker, Toi Thomas, Fundy Blue and Donna Hole.
I have been hearing a lot of grouses from Indian writers who are my online pals. For a writer querying and submitting directly to commissioning editors like we Indian writers do, all the feedback we get on our submissions can be quite a mystery. Trying to analyse just what the editor meant can take its toll on the writer’s mental, emotional and psychological health.
Feedback like “our publishing list is full at this time,” in a nutshell means “I really don’t have the time to read my slush pile.”
Feedback like “this is not right/suitable for our list” is easy to interpret. Your book sucks and our list too will suck if we publish this book.
Then there is the back-handed compliment feedback. “Though I enjoyed your story I didn’t fall in love with it.” I would interpret it to mean that though your story idea is good, the writing style is just not my cup of tea.
A brush the writer away like a fly feedback would be to say “we are looking for dark books” if the writer has sent a cute and funny one, and the opposite if the writer has sent a dark book.
Then there is the puzzling feedback: “Your main character’s name is Tina, we want a Rina.” This leaves the writer scratching his/her head.
Let’s not forget this feedback: “Your book reminds me of another book.” This feedback is easy to understand, it just means I am not going to bother reading the pages based on the premise. But, if you are a best-selling writer I will even publish a poor derivative book of yours. I am not wasting my time for a newbie.
Trust me, the poor writer needs a heavy dose of therapy and counselling to make sense of all the feedback and to get back their writing morale. Best thing would be to just forget and move on.
Have you ever received a feedback that has confused the hell out of you?
I suppose they are trying to be nice, but it would be nice if they told us straight what they really thought! Better than no feedback or no response, at least.ReplyDelete
Am still to join that league , Rachna! However, nice points there:)ReplyDelete
Even on a pretty standard rejection letter I am looking for the hidden message!ReplyDelete
Writing is so subjective. Yes, I've gotten totally opposite feedback from publishers and others that is so confusing.ReplyDelete
The name one is confusing. Because it would be easy to change the name. So why didn't it really work?ReplyDelete
Thanks for co-hosting today!
LOL. I have never sent a manuscript anywhere, hence am blissfully unaware about what they say -- what they mean :)ReplyDelete
I feel your pain. Way back before sending mss in by email, we used snail mail. I remember receiving a rejection that was a form letter they didn't even take time to fold and place in the envelope. It was stuffed in it and all crumpled up when I pulled it out to get the bad news. Nowadays, I'm just happy to hear from a publisher rejection or not. It really irritates me when they don't even take time to acknowledge your submission and just let you hang wondering what's happening. In this day of email, pubs, agents,editors could at least reply. Thanks for co-hosting!!ReplyDelete
I submitted my MS to my state's arts contest, and got the same judge two times in a row who said, "I've seen this be done before" without leaving me an example of what she meant. EVERYTHING has been done before. Be more specific!ReplyDelete
Hi, Rachna! Thanks for co-hosting!ReplyDelete
The puzzling feedback made me smile. So far, thankfully, I haven't received any confusing ones that come close to those you've mentioned. It's often a form letter and--rare as this may be--a few personal replies.
It is tricky and confusing. It's a NO. Not much you can do about it, except keep writing, editing, and resubmitting.ReplyDelete
Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month!
Play off the Page
Argh! Those cryptic query responses! If only I could figure out the code! I do think that most editors and agents are trying to be nice, but there's nothing like a detailed response that helps you see what they saw. The only thing to do is keep on trucking... ONWARD!ReplyDelete
Rejections I've received have always made sense...the ones I don't like are the ones that get your name or the name of your manuscript wrong. That tells me the agent didn't even read anything!ReplyDelete
Thanks for co-hosting,Rachna! You have to develop a thick skin to be a writer. If it isn't editors/agents rejecting you, once you do publish it's the reviewers. But all the rejections or bad reviews shouldn't stop you from writing. Persistence is the key.ReplyDelete
Thanks for co-hosting, Rachna. And thanks for summarizing those head-scratching rejection letters. Your translations are excellent.ReplyDelete
The feedback is always confusing because it's usually the agent or editor's excuse to reject something that simply didn't hook them in that moment. When I pitched my first mystery to an agent at a conference, she told me there was already a female judge protagonist on the market? Really? There's only room for one female judge in the whole world of mystery novels? It was confusing at the time, but now just seems funny.ReplyDelete
It usually sounds canned. Not sure how to take that. Hmm...ReplyDelete
'This is not suitable for our list' just means that, I think. It's not the sort of thing they need on their list at this time, or it doesn't fit in with the other things they're currently publishing. Agents and editors are super busy people, so this very general, bland sort of feedback seems to be all they have time to give you. It's frustrating, but I don't think it necessarily means you're a bad writer, just that they're busy people and they only take on very few writers a year. Sometimes it's a game of luck.ReplyDelete
There are so many ways to take rejection. But that is what it all comes down to, how YOU handle that rejection. No one likes it. I decided to try Indy-Publishing because I wanted to become a better writer. If someday an agent wants to "pick me up," I will give it serious thought, but for now, I'm enjoying my novels being out in the world on their own and honing my craft... Lisa, co-host AtoZ2015, @ lisabuiecollard.comReplyDelete
So sorry I forgot to thank you for co-hosting this month! Thank you!ReplyDelete
My all time favorite feedback I got from an agent: "I'm sorry, but I only represent good writers."ReplyDelete
I try not to waste time deciphering confusing feedback. The only ones that concern me are the ones that end either with detailed info & personal thoughts on what they liked. And or to submit again in the future. That pretty much says it all: there's something there and they want to see if I'd come back with something better. So might as well rise to the challenge and prove it, right?ReplyDelete
I'm still working on my first book, so I haven't received any feedback yet. But from everything I've read, it sounds as though most replies are pretty vague, assuming the agents even bother to reply.ReplyDelete
Thanks for co-hosting this month's IWSG!
I think they choose their words carefully just in case they run into any irate authors on the train.ReplyDelete
One feedback I got was something like: the main character seem to be burning her candle at both ends. Uh, what?ReplyDelete
I do wish agent rejection could be more helpful to the author. Seems like it takes more time to craft a cryptic reply than just saying what they mean. Maybe they have a stock pile of responses and just choose one at random?
I haven't gotten to that point. But I'd drive myself crazy thinking about what someone meant if they said something like that.ReplyDelete
God, Entertainment, & Annoying Things
This is so funny in a it's-funny-becaue-it's-true way. Understanding feedback can be like deciphering a code and not just from queries and agents. I got feeback from a beta once that said "love this desciption, but I don't understand it." I wasn't really sure which area of my writing needed work or which techinques I need to focus on more or less.ReplyDelete
Great post and thanks for sharing and co-hosting.
Thanks for co-hosting! Most of my rejections have said "I liked it but didn't love it", which is a bit too vague to be helpful!ReplyDelete
Thanks for co-hosting and your insight! As I get ready to submit, I found your advice timely. Hoping I don't get the 'it sucks' reject. But I know it happens a lot...ReplyDelete
Lol. I have rcvd feedback that confused me to the point that I wondered if I had sent an unedited version of the story because there was no way their cruel comments could be applied to the version I meant to have sent. Regardless, I just stopped submitting to that magazine. No one needs to be mean!ReplyDelete
Thanks for hosting this month.
Feedback can be touch to take! Good luck!ReplyDelete
Thanks for being a co-host this month. I have not put myself out enough to garner feedback yet, but I have been rejected once without feedback. I give myself plenty of critical feedback, so working on that to just keep writing. Best Wishes,ReplyDelete
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit
Hi Rachna! First, thanks for co-host the IWSG this month. I did too, and I'm having so much fun hopping around and visiting lots of blogs. I haven't submitted a lot of things to publishers, so I haven't gotten a lot of rejections. Most of my writing has been connected to my work, and I got lots of spot on feedback, tactful and not! I do know that people who write have to overcome a lot of rejection, so once I start submitting my finished book, I'll have my flame retardant pants on! I used those pants in lots of situations as an elementary teacher! Happy writing this month!ReplyDelete
Rejections can be rough and especially when the comments aren't clear. But I think some feedback even if it's cryptic can still be better than no response. No response at all can drive you crazy! Despite rejections, we have to keep writing and trying because eventually our perseverance pays off. Happy writing!ReplyDelete
Rejections are rough. In the beginning, a rejection letter would just ruin my day, but now I've realized how subjective. Hence my thicker skin now ;)ReplyDelete
Rejections are always hard (like everyone else already said ;) ), but there came a point that I didn't try to read between the lines unless the rejection was out of the ordinary. Most agents/editors are so swamped, they can't afford more than a fairly standard rejection. I look at as a simple 'we're not interested.' The writer's tough rhino skin grows fast. :)ReplyDelete
Hi friends, rejections are always nasty, whether they are followed by a positive feedback or a negative one. And sometimes the feedback really makes you scratch your head wondering what exactly does it mean. At other times editors try to be diplomatic and say that the book does not meet their publishing requirement. That's why writers need to develop a thick skin.ReplyDelete
I submitted a story once to a literary magazine I admired, and when a long time went by, I queried for the status. The editors responded with an apology for keeping it so long, saying it was "in contention" -- which left me feeling it was very close to acceptance. I was so excited! Then a few weeks later, I received notification that they were unable to use it "as we feel it needs more work." That was it! More work? What kind? What was lacking, given that it was "in contention"? Yes, I certainly was confused by that one!ReplyDelete
Yeesh! That does sound frustrating! Good luck with the submissions slog!ReplyDelete
I think it's tough because editors/agents are looking for that something that jumps out at them...and they can't define what that "something" is until they see it. But it's all about getting your work into the hands of the person who will feel that way about it. Once you do that, you're set!ReplyDelete
I kinda believed all those rejection excuses when I go them. It's very hard to grab the attention of an agent/editor. There can be tiny things that turn them off, but that the next agent/editor will like. The rule is just keep submitting until you literally run out pf places to submit - and don't take the rejections personally (unless you get a bunch that criticize the same thing - then it may be time for a re-write). Have a great weekend! :)ReplyDelete
Rachna, you are so compassionate, that's why I love ya! Also, Yes, I've received confusing feedback, but I glean the helpful info and try to improve myself from there. :)ReplyDelete
My Little Pony
Lots of confusing comments alright. Not very helpful. Can't they be more specific?ReplyDelete
Could the reason be that they become inundated with submissions, and in order to get through the piles and piles, they resort to standard rejection letters with vague comments?? Just wondering.
Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month!