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Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Become the Shakespeare of Rejection Letters and Win a new iPod while you’re at it.
The Rejection Letter – being rejected just got fun. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a well written, eloquent (or not so eloquent) rejection letter available for you to share with the person of your liking (or not so liking)? iwiLetter.com (send real letters, write online) is sponsoring a rejection letter writing contest that provides the perfect opportunity for all of you modern day Shakespeares to gain the fame you deserve. All it takes is putting pen to paper or rather, fingers to the keyboard.
Monday, January 28, 2008
I started working on Sky in 2004, although I had been writing and reworking the first chapter, “Fighting Shoes,” since 2003.
What prompted your interest in it?
In some way or another, I’ve always written about my mother. When I was eight I published a haiku that likened my mother’s voice to thunder. She’s always been my subject – I can’t really recall a time in which my work hasn’t revolved around her – the one person I couldn’t, but desperately wanted to, understand. For years I was working on a novel of lifeless, unlikable characters that did mildly interesting things. I was writing a safe book because I was afraid to commit my memories, this horrific life lived, this very unsafe book, to paper. I was ashamed of my past, of living in poverty, of a mother who loved and terrorized me. I had lived a life of my own invention for so long, I couldn’t imagine otherwise. At one point the weight of these two lives – the accomplished, in-control professional and the frightened child who never really mourned the loss of her mother – were becoming difficult to bear. Something had to give. One afternoon a friend of mine and I were trading stories about our mothers and we realized that we had both been shamed into secrecy. We were made to feel shame by our mothers, our impoverished upbringing, and a culture where not loving your mother is unthinkable. And in 2004, I felt brave enough to start Sky.
It took seven months to write the sample chapters for my proposal submission and an additional five months to finish the first draft of the book.
I have literally lost count. Three significant rewrites, however, some chapters required upwards of ten-fifteen revisions.
Who read your drafts?
In the early stages, a select group of friends read some of the chapters, however, my editor was the sole reader of Sky at its various stages.
How did you decide which comments were important and which you didn't need to heed?
I wholly believe that the editorial process is an organic and intuitive one. I knew which comments were right for my book and which are appropriate to discard. However, for the most part, my editor’s suggestions made for a better book, but it was an ongoing conversation, which made the editorial and revision process that much more challenging and exciting.
What was your overall rejection experience with this book?
To be honest, it wasn’t particularly traumatizing. Some editors didn’t connect with the story or the way I felt it needed to be told, and conversely, I didn’t connect with certain editors and the way in which they felt the book should play out. So the “rejection” went both ways. But I think finding the right editor for your work isn’t really about rejection (which, for me, has a negative connotation) or acceptance; it’s about finding the right partner for your project. Ultimately, I feel I made the right choice with Algonquin Books and my terrific editor, Amy Gash.
Did you already have an agent? Or did you use this project to get one?
I already had an agent and we worked on preparing the proposal and sample chapters for submission.
How long did it take for you to get an agent?
How many agents passed on the project?
Once you got an agent, how long did it take to find a publisher?
We sold Sky within a month of submission.
How many editors passed on the project?
Two before the pre-empt. I don’t remember exactly, to be honest. The whole process was a bit of a surreal blur.
Where were you when you found out the book had been bought?
Who was the first person you told?
I’ve learned to be patient. Years ago, one of my writing teachers encouraged me to slow down, that there no rush to get my work to an agent to inevitably sell to a publisher. No one is waiting with bated breath for your book, she said, so take the time writing the best book you can possibly write at this particular time in your career, and spend the time finding the right agent for your project and, subsequently, the right publisher. My teacher also once said that she believed it takes seven years from a debut book’s inception to publication. For me it’s been five, so I feel pretty lucky.
What's your view of the rejection experience now?
I never take rejection personally. From enduring the publication process and all its electric twists and turns, and also working on the other side for a major publisher, there are so many factors at work, behind-the-scenes, regarding how projects are selected for publication. Also, not everyone will be the audience for your work or will embrace it, and you have to be prepared for that as well.
What words of advice would you give to a writer, rejected on the journey toward getting published?
Keep writing. Keep revising. Keep reading.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
- British author Kathryn Lilley, who wrote Dying to Be Thin (Signet/Obsidian, 2007), told BookEnds Blog that she didn't suffer many rejections when trying to sell her book. She said: "... you should never take rejection or criticism personally. And you should never be bitter. And you should never say, “Neener, neener!”
- There's a recommendation by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen at Writing Quotations & Writing Tips for The Writer’s Book of Hope: Getting From Frustration to Publication by Ralph Keyes, which looks like an interesting book.
- Kelly Spitzer strikes again with an interesting post on various writers comparing print vs. online publishing. Got to love the Spitzmeister.
- There's a fantastic bitch session about literary fiction over at the Blog of Jackson Bliss. He really gets on a roll.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Favorite paragraph: "In answer to frequently asked questions... I regret that I don't know the name of the piece you entered. Those works were long ago recycled and due to the high volume of submissions, we just don't have time to record titles of the manuscripts we receive. I hope your records are of some help in that regard. (Honestly, how many contests bother to let you know how you did). Your good showing does not disqualify you from entering this or any other contest of your choosing as often as you like. You may re-enter your work or any other work unless it's been previously published in a book or magazine with over 5,000 circulation. Because of our daunting workload, we no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts for publication outside the contest."
So, you really do have to pay to get published. Need I say more?
Where there's life, my dear-hearts, there's hope. And where there are desperate writers, there is marketing ambition. It's a familiar story, isn't it?
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
- Seth Fleisher over at sethfleisher.com has several posts on literary rejection, his own and others, including one very fine rejection from Junot Diaz at the Boston Review
- Clifford Garstang's Perpetual Folly Blog has an amusing series of post about rejection entitled Size Matters about small rejection with "cutout job[s] that had to have been done by a blind person."
- Speak Coffee to Me has a nice post with that Bradbury quote about accepting rejection and rejecting acceptance with some lovely photographs of bulletin-board rejections.
- Jonathan Lyons blogged the events of one morning as a literary agent. The day included 20 literary rejections. I don't normally like to link to publishing blogs, but Lyons seems okay, and this one is definitely worth a look.
- Bertram's Blog has a post entitled "A Rejection So Pleasant It Was Almost an Acceptance." There's a good agent rejection letter posted there, which makes me think we've started a good trend of airing our dirty rejections in public.
Friday, January 18, 2008
"You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance."- Ray Bradbury
"Human beings, like plants, grow in the soil of acceptance, not in the atmosphere of rejection." -John Powell
"Large offers and sturdy rejections are among the most common topics of falsehood." -Samuel Johnson
“What allows genius to flower is not neurosis but tenacity and the ability to withstand disappointment” -Joan Acocella
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Chair - Search Committee
412A Clarkson Hall, Whitson University
College Hill, MA 34109
Dear Professor Millington,
Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your department.
This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.
Despite Whitson's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.
Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.
Chris L. Jensen
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
So it would be kind of awkward.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
"Thank you for your inquiry, but my roster is full and I am not taking on new clients at the moment."
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Another possibility is to respond, in writing, on the back of the slips. 'Dear Editor: Thank you for your unwarranted form rejection. I wish you the best of luck in finding decent stories for your stupid magazine. You will need it because obviously you have no literary taste whatever.' Then rip them up and throw them away.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
The trade paperback edition of our forthcoming Winter 2008 issue is now available from Amazon and features
- Robert Olen Butler’s short short stories “Little Fuckers"
- Viet Thanh Nguyen’s short story “Someone Else Besides You”
- Octavia Randolph’s short story “Ride,” narrated by Lady Godiva
- “The Royal Reykjavík Sex Tour” excerpted from Scott Spencer’s new novel,
- Stephen Kuusisto, Joseph Stroud, and Connie Wanek reportage on child soldiers in Colombia by Paula Delgado-Kling
- an in-depth interview with Richard Rodriguez
- Lacy Crawford’s profile of Reynolds Price
- W. H. Auden’s classic essay on “Reading”
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Monday, January 7, 2008
I've decided that nearly all screenplay contests are rip-offs. I "won" one of these as a top-ten finalist once and nothing came of it. Have others had this experience? Anyway, certainly don't pay StoryPros a nominal fee to give you feedback. My understanding is that the feedback is also lame. Don't let others capitalize on your desperation. Save your money.
StoryPros 2007/2008 Awards Contest is now accepting entries! http://www.storypros.com Over $10,000 in CASH & PRIZES plus invaluable promotion to over 3,000 entertainment professionals! The Awards Contest is a genre competition where screenplays compete in 5 separate categories: Drama, Comedy, Action/Adventure/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, and Family/Animation/Teen. Cash and/or prizes will be given out to the 1st-3rd place winners in each category and a Grand Prize winner will be chosen as the best script out of all entries. 16 winners total! Low entry fees! 2-3 pages of professional level feedback, development notes, and suggestions for improvement are also available as an option for a nominal fee. About Us: StoryPros is a screenwriting resource site and analysis service owned and operated by award winning screenwriters and professional studio readers.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
"Well, guys, I may as well give my two-cents here. (This is Jeff Kleinman, and it totally weirds me out that this would be in someone's blog, but never mind all that for the moment.)
1. I'm flattered and impressed that you think I'm writing "jaunty agent lingo" - it's the way I talk, so I guess I must talk the same lingo. It was actually *meant*, though.
2. The comment: "It makes you want to shout at this dude: "So just publish the damn thing ..." It's NOT my job to PUBLISH books. I'm an agent - I represent books, and send them to editors whom I think will fall in love with them, and those editors publish those books. There's a HUGE distinction here, and if you don't see that, then you need to do some more homework. There are a million reasons why I personally wouldn't want to represent a book, but could easily imagine other people representing it - as is the case here.
3. Women's Fiction is a distinct category in the publishing world. Laney does more of it than I do. I'll let all of you figure out the definition to women's fiction, but it's just wrong to say that because most women buy books, all books are women's fiction.
4. As to what does "land" on and stick to my desk? Not a lot. Fiction's tough, and I don't like to take it on unless I literally go crazy reading it. It's hard to find books that send me over the moon. You need to keep in mind that it's just not my job to find a home for every writer's work - or every 100 writers. My job is to take on books that I absolutely love, and want to sell, and sell them. And then work with the author on how to market them, and how to build the author's career. I could end up taking on 1 book a year, or 100; it's not a numbers game, though.
4. As for the form reject that reads like a personal critique - you're right, I did use that - because I got so sick of saying the same thing, again and again, to most of the writers whose manuscripts I read. So, instead, having gotten slammed somewhere else for using standardized language, I went for the real personal approach, as in the example cited here: A) I really liked it and it's not for me; and B) here's a REFERRAL to my colleague, whom I hope will like it even more. (Jeez, that sounds pretty nice to me - hardly a reason to be lambasted here.) But to answer the poster's question - the reason I used personalized rejections is because it was vastly easier than trying to say the same thing in a different way 10 or 20 times a day - when I could be out reading or working for my clients, and earning a living doing so.
5. I don't represent only men; I'm not even going to bother trying to answer this one. I represent books. I sometimes represent books that primarily appeal to women (and which would fall under the category of "women's fiction"); I sometimes represent books that don't.
Hope this helps.
Folio Literary Management, LLC"
Don't take us personally, Jeff. We are just a bunch of Bitter Bobs, who can't catch a publishing break no matter what we do, and we think your business is a sinking ship, which makes us depressed and then we lash out, which is why most of your colleagues don't really bother with us. (Actually, I don't think we really lambasted this dude, did we? We certainly didn't acuse him of publishing only men.)
Anyway, my friends, perhaps you have something more to say to Mr. K. since he bothered to drop by and defend himself?
Saturday, January 5, 2008
announces the SQ Love Story Contest
Open to fiction and nonfiction entries,
the contest offers
a First Prize of $2,500, a Second Prize of $1,500, a Third Prize of $750,
and ten Finalists each will receive $100.
Deadline for entries: March 31, 2008.
For complete details, please click here.
Friday, January 4, 2008
POST ROAD Magazine
We are very pleased to announce the winner of our contest:
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
"Nota bene: I think the submitter will feel like a sucker no matter what he does about the subscription "offer." Obviously he'll feel that way for subscribing, but he'll feel the same if *doesn't* subscribe, as in my case -- for if they log their mail so closely, who's to say that my lack of financial support didn't influence their decision in rejecting my work?"