Tuesday, May 11, 2010

About Rejections (Part 7 of 9)

I want to point out the most serious reason for rejection: The writing is bad. Sometimes it's worse than bad. Editor Len Goss once said to me, "Most of the manuscripts I read are barely above stream of consciousness."

Many beginning writers submit material long before the manuscript is ready. (I know, I did the same thing.) It's the best they can do, and it looks all right to them, so they take a chance. They also glut the delivery system and interfere with editors and agents who prefer to devote their attention to reading polished, better-quality work.

I can't tell anyone when a manuscript is ready, but I can offer suggestions. Here's my first and most important one: Have your work professionally edited—at least until you get established. It will cost you money, but it's an investment in your dream. Go to a professional editor and not to an English teacher—unless you only want your grammar checked. Writing for publication sometimes violates strict rules. (And I'm a former English teacher.)

After the editing comes back, compare it with your original. Ask yourself why the editor changed your prose. A good editor makes your writing better; a wise writer appreciates the help.

Here's another tip: Never stop learning. I have two friends who were successful in the 1970s romance market. Today neither can get anything published. Neither kept improving. They sold books but they stopped growing.

Keep trying to find ways to improve. Read about writing. Take courses if you can; read blogs and books on writing. Analyze what you read. Ask yourself why one writer speaks to you and another one bores you.

One warning. You can find dozens of blogs and ezines on writing. In all candor, many of them are the work of not-very-good writers. Before you accept suggestions from a blog or ask a professional editor to tackle your material, look at the person's credentials.

A few months ago a woman emailed me that she didn't like the way I wrote and she was willing to become my editor. I try to stay open to someone helping me; however, she misspelled one word, had one run-on sentence of 43 words, and boasted that she had published five articles in an ezine. (Oh, yes, she was also the editor of that ezine.)

I didn't doubt her sincerity, but I wouldn't have trusted her editing.

Get professional help—that is, get PROFESSIONAL help.


  1. I've really enjoyed your series on rejections. I like to think of them as layers protecting the author from an editor's cat-o'-nine-tails. Just layer those rejections on - kinda like a flak jacket - and then the next one doesn't hurt so bad.

    Over on my blog ~Writer's Journey~ authors are sharing their road-to-publication stories. Sometimes hearing about the journey another author traveled to get published encourages those in the pre-published state.

  2. Thanks for sharing your insights, Cec.

    Swallowing that huge rejection pill hurts; staying in the slush pile hurts worse. I beleive one of the wisest prayers is, "Lord, change me!"

    Happy Thursday,

  3. Cec,

    Thanks so much for all the help. It's like taking a class on writing, but for free!

    Blessings to you!

  4. Thanks for the information and suggestion of having writing professionally edited. Definite food for thought, as always!


  5. Cec,

    I am thankful for your commitment to help develop other writers! I scrolled from January to the present and read each one of your pervading posts. They SHOW and TELL me so much about effective writing. Seconding Chris, "It's like taking a class on writing, but for free!" Regarding to hire a professional editor to review my manuscript, will you please advise me on that process?


    Shannon Lee


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