I'd been wanting to write a post like this since the Writer's Voice Contest, because many peeps asked me why I didn't pick their entries. Sometimes I'd answer, it's a matter of tastes (because, really, in many cases, it wasn't about the writing, just about my taste). But these writers wouldn't believe me--they would say things like, "Oh, but I want to know why my entry sucked." (Even though I thought their entries didn't suck at all!)
So, to make my point, I wanted to ask you: have you ever read published book that you didn't like? That if you were an agent, you wouldn't have represented? And if you were an editor you wouldn't have bought? I'm sure you have, right?
Well, I have. In fact, I'm actually reading one. And it even was a book that was sold at action! But I couldn't connect with the characters because they were interested in things that didn't interest me. And I didn't connect with the writing, either (it used many adjectives for my taste). And I also thought it could have used more world building.
So, my point is: those form rejections that we've all seen more than once are actually true. This business is subjective and many things are a matter of tastes. (Sure, sometimes it is about the writing, too, and that's why we always need to revise and hone our skills, but this post was intended for the people who have already polished their MS and are still getting rejections.)
So, if you know you've done your best and you're still getting rejections, just keep going! Don't give up!!
Amen, sistah! This post is spot on. A lot of times it IS just a matter of taste. Those rejections didn't bother me. The ones that really stung were the "I like it, but not quite enough" variety.ReplyDelete
This is something I'm still learning to accept, but I'm much better now than I was four months ago. I started the querying process in March, and when those first rejections came in, all I could think was, "Why do they hate me?!?! Everyone is getting picked but me!" Now, I'm understanding just how subjective this whole writing thing is. :) There's something new to learn everyday.ReplyDelete
That's what makes the world of books so awesome, though. There's something for everyone! It's definitely a lesson in patience and perseverance. It's also a lesson that's so worth it. Great post, Monica!
Absolutely is a matter of taste! One can only assume that you have to hit the most popular tastes!ReplyDelete
What I always have liked to remind myself is that there are people out there who don't like chocolate. Lots of people, actually. Does this mean that chocolate itself is bad? Definitely not. It just means it doesn't appeal to some in the way it does to others. Subjectivity is king.ReplyDelete
So true! And something writers need to be reminded of again and again even though we experience this exact thing as readers.ReplyDelete
So true. I've read two big name books (one which I didn't finish) and it all came down to tastes. One was more chick-lit and the other had angels, both of which I'm not a fan. It really comes down to tastes which makes finding an agent so tough. You have to find one who has your same tastes. Not an easy task.ReplyDelete
We hear this so much when we're querying but it's hard to believe that someone else will like our work if X number of agents have passed. Yet I know what you say is true. There are so many books that make the NY Times Bestsellers List that I don't like! I guess it's just our own insecurity that sometimes get in the way.
Thanks for this post. Perfect timing. :)
Hope you're having a wonderful winter, amiga.
Hey Lorena! Long time no chat...hope you're okay! And yeah, there are many books that hit the NYT bestseller list that I don't like either. But you're right...it's hard not to feel insecure. <3Delete
And I hope you're having a wonderful summer, amiga!
I agree that a lot of rejection has to do with taste, though some of it may have to do with the writing, but if you do have a well written, polished manuscript and an interesting story idea you can still get rejected if an editor or agent don't connect with it. Look at J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter was rejected bunch of times before it got accepted.ReplyDelete
Great post. It's hard to remember but this serves as a good reminder in such a subjective business :)ReplyDelete
Good perspective. One of my favorite books I recommended to my mom, and she didn't like it because it reminded her too much of her social work career (the depressing, hopless aspects; the book was a memoir that was beautifully written but dark). A friend recommended a book to me that sounded fantastic as a premise, and I didn't connect with the writing style or the characters at all. It truly is a matter of taste.ReplyDelete
I often think about artworks in a museum. If I had to spend my hard earned money one something to put in my house, would I be able to say I'd want to hang the Mona Lisa? Or the Waterlilies?
Art is a tough thing.
It's hard to remember, but it's really important to consider that our responses to ART will always run the gamut of hate to like to love and everything in between.
I've felt that way about SEVERAL published books that I've read! And it's especially hard when you're in the query trenches and doing everything in your power to not make the mistakes everyone gripes about, and then you pick up a pubbed book and think the characters are flat and/or unlikable, the plot unoriginal and/or unexciting, etc., and you think, "Someone fell in love with THIS?"ReplyDelete
It really is a matter of what speaks to a person... and not everything speaks to everyone. (Not that it makes rejection any easier!)
Most of the time I receive rejections, I realize it's because I'm excited and hurrying before it's completely ready. Writing and wanting to be published sure conflict sometimes!ReplyDelete
Absolutely BRILLIANT! That's exactly how I feel. Rejection wears on me sometimes, and it makes me wonder if there's anything I could do to get noticed, but I know agents and editors HAVE to be picky, and they HAVE to hold out for books they are excited about. It's not me, it's them. And that's absolutely okay (although if it IS me, I would expect my Critique group to tell me so). :)ReplyDelete
So true and thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. The subjectivity of the business actually gives me a great deal of hope. Sometimes it just takes connecting with that one person for things to get moving. Look at JK Rowling. And Stephenie Meyer. And I could name a whole bunch of others.ReplyDelete
Wonderful, encouraging post, Monica! Hope all is well!
I love this post Monica! Thank you so much for the encouragement!!ReplyDelete
Coincidentally The Chicago Tribune just featured an article sharing Alfred A. Knopf's notes on why he rejected several authors like Joyce Carol Oates and Sylvia Plath...Knopf HATED "The Bell Jar." Reading his criticism of it is enough to make anyone feel good about their next rejection. ;)
Oh!! Thanks for the link!! I'm off to read it now! :DDelete
Thank you guys for your comments!! LOVE THEM! Many inspiring thoughts here! <3ReplyDelete
I hate to admit to it--but there have been some very popular books that just haven't been for me. I could see their appeal, but it wasn't a good fit. Doesn't make it a bad book. But having said that, I'm always shocked when I find people who don't like CHOCOLATE!!! That's when I really get confused LOL!ReplyDelete
Yes, yes, and YES. Writing is a precious artform, and we all have our own set of emotional ties, opinions, etc. to art. My favorite line from my personal collection of rejections is: just because it doesn't work for me doesn't mean someone else won't love it.ReplyDelete
First, I LOVE that photo!! Gave me a real laugh. Secondly, I try to remember to celebrate rejections because getting them means I'm still in the game, still sending stuff out, that I haven't given up. Maybe I'm a little twisted, but it works for me.ReplyDelete
Ha Ha, love that picture. I always take rejections as a sign that something is not working with the query or the first pages. It's hard to figure out what's not working though. But I agree that you shouldn't give up. Maybe take a break and come back to it, but not give up. :)ReplyDelete
OMG, I so need this today. I got three form rejections today. UGH, not feeling so great. So far I have two requests out of fifteen responses and that feels like utter failure, compared to the very fast and plentiful requests my last manuscript got. *Sigh* but you're right. It really, really is all subjective. It only takes one to love it, right?ReplyDelete
Hey, even one request is AWESOME!! : )Delete
I'm sorry about the rejections, but it makes me happy that you still got requests! The first time I queried, I sent 100 queries and got just 7 requests!Delete
Thanks for this post, I thought my writing sucked too and I kind of gave up on submitting to any contests for a while but this helped. Thanks : )ReplyDelete
Glad to hear that some of you think this post helped in some way!! :DReplyDelete
The road to publication is paved with rejections! Eventually I learned to wear mine like badges of honor - they meant I was a real writer. :) Great post, Moni.ReplyDelete
Great advice! And I always love seeing that picture:)ReplyDelete
I totally agree with this. Thanks for the advice.ReplyDelete
Just found your blog and I love it! Rejection can be very discouraging, but I try to focus on the positive and just keep moving forward. Great post.ReplyDelete
You're exactly right. There have been a few books I've read that other people have raved about that I just didn't connect to. Some I actually loathed. It's about finding the one person who will love your work as much as you do. That's what I keep hoping for, anyway!ReplyDelete