Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Don't Give Us A Reason To Say No

I am the first to admit that I completely hate writing rejection letters. I would much prefer (and I know writers believe this) to "make the call" and tell the writers we love their work. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen that way. We simply end up writing far too many rejection letters than we want to. The thing that stands out, however, is simply the number of rejection letters we send out that didn't have to be that way. This does not mean we would have signed the writer, but there is an increased chance, had we seen more, and the writer moved a bit further through the submission process, he or she would have had something more to work with for later submissions.

So why does this happen? It is all because the writers are ill-prepared to enter the publishing world on a professional basis. The writing may be fine, but the approach the writer took, or what I call the "silly mistakes" he or she made were enough to get the rejection letter. As one of my colleagues said during an agent panel at one conference, "Don't give us a reason to reject you."
I do believe, had the writers taken a bit more time learning the publishing business, and understanding not just what you have to do to be successful, but WHY we do these things, we would see much more success. It all comes down to taking the time to learn before you dive into things.

I have talked here about some of those reasons for rejections. Submitting projects we don't acquire; not following the directions; cover letters that aren't professional; etc. etc, etc. These are all things that can easily be fixed and the information IS out there.

Of course when I say this, I always hear authors saying things such as "the information is not accurate" or "the information is different for every person" or "but by story/situation is different." This could not be any further from the truth.

The information IS out there. Not only are the agencies and publishers listing specifically what the want in projects and submissions on their websites, there are also organizations out there teaching this information. There are conferences and workshops, both face to face and online. There are books and handouts. The information is out there.

When we hear the information "is not accurate" I often find out the authors are working off of third party sources. Here is a good example:

I just went to Querytracker and found that they are claiming I am closed to submissions. Nope! This is wrong information. I would also add that there is a website address so, had a writer gone to that page, he or she would have known that. You might be saying, "But Scott, why didn't you go in and change that information?" For the simple fact that this is not my website. THEY are doing the searches. THEY are updating the information from who ever and where ever they get the information from.

As far as the "contradictory" information, it is not contradictory but different. Every one of the agencies and publishers ask for different things both in projects and submissions. It is up to you as an author to look up that information.

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