1/10/07

Rejection

Oh, my. I received my first (official "I'm trying to become a professional writer") rejection letter today. From Harlequin. The letter is dated December 14, which meant they received it on November 27 and rejected it 17 days later. Is that some kind of record?

Out of defense for my sensibilities, Keven e-mailed me with this reply: "I think it would have been more worrying if Harlequin had accepted you. You're better than that :-)" Which is nice. Not that he's ever read a romance (good, bad, or otherwise), and still no sale, but nice.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even if SS doesn't sell, you can look at it as a practice nove. I had a bunch of those before I sold one. And with every one, you'll get better.

The trick to this gig is simply never to give up.

*hugs!* Glad you're back (for a lil while)

Have fun in Indiana

lindseysoda said...

Never fear, and be sure to keep the rejection letter for fun down the road. Dr. Seuss was rejected by 28 publishers before finally publishing "And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street," his first book. I bet all those publishers feel pretty dumb now!

Reckless Monkey said...

Kill them all!

Eliza said...

Carrie,
From what I've read of SS, it's absolutely bound to be published by someone good. The writing's tight, the setting's great and by the end of the partial I was emotionally involved with the characters. Although I'm interested to why HQN rejected it. Did they say anything else?

carrie_lofty said...

No, it was a two line form letter. Something about how they knew I spent lots of time on it yada yada. But the turn-around is the key, to my thinking. With cross-Atlantic air travel, my submission made it there and sat for less than two weeks, with the rejection coming back to me 24 days after I mailed the package. All I can think is that they have very, very specific types of stories they are looking for. A Harlequin writer from Unusual Historicals said that they look for MSes where the h/h are not apart for any more than about 10 pages, and that villains are a necessity. Just not a good fit, I think. Or, at least, that's what I'll be telling myself until the next rejection comes alone :)

Michelle Styles said...

Sorry to hear about your R. And no, it is not a record. It sometimes happens that way.
Contrary to what your husband might think, Harlequin Mills and Boon is a very difficult publisher to crack. They get over 10,000 unsolicited submissions in the UK office and take on about 10 people. They are the world's leading publisher of women's fiction, and are known for their ability to grow authors.
The vast majority of their authors have had a form R from them. I had one -- and it did take less time than yours. I also had personal Rs before I finally sold to them. There is no set number and each ms is evaluated on its own merits. Some authors use the experience to go on and write for other publishers. Attempting to write for HM&B can help improve your knowledge of craft because there is structure and framework to your ms.
It is what you do with your R that counts. Do you curl up and die, or do you go forward? Get determined that you will not be easily dismissed? You can always shop the ms around to agents, and in some ways that should be your next step as you need an agent for mainstream. But the time period and the subject matter may make it a hard sell. It can be much more difficult to land an agent than to land an editor as agents have to feel there is a market.
You can also submit another ms to HM&B, making sure that you have learnt the form that gives the HM&B promise to readers. And it is a form, not a formula, much as sonnet is a form or a symphony or concerto.
Another way to think about the 10 page rule is what Donald Maass says in his brilliant book on writing -- Writing the Break Out Novel -- no more than one scene without advancing the main plot. As in romance, you generally have to have the hero and heroine together to advance the relationship (the main plot), and scenes are generally less than ten pages, the rule holds for other genres.
FWIW

carrie_lofty said...

Thanks for that, Michelle. Keven just runs by stereotypes and out of loyalty to me...