Week In Review: May 7

In Case You Missed it, here’s the round up of all of my latest content, plus updates from old guests!

Read on if you want to know more.

If not? See you next week with more writing tips and writerly musings.

Coming up this week:

On Youtube: My Lazy Sunday afternoon livestream write-in is back again from 4:30pm-6:30pm EST. Come, hang out, and we’ll probably even do a few productivity sprints.

Content Around The Web:

On Youtube:

On the Podcast “Writing Tips and Writerly Musings”:

On The Blog (In Case You Missed It):

Events:

None this week. I’ll be paneling at Balticon again this year at the end of May! (Plus, staffing it.)

Smoke Bitten (A Mercy Thompson Novel Book 12)

What I’ve Been Reading:

I’d somehow missed Patricia Brigg’s 2020 addition to her Mercy Thompson series. So, I read Smoke Bitten and fixed that this week.

New Works By Previous Guests!

None this week.


May Day was this week and the honeysuckle is in bloom. I think. This is actually a bush that grows in my yard. It looks like honeysuckle, it smells like honeysuckle, but it’s not a vine. I’m a little confused.

May be an image of flower and nature

7 Ways Writers Handle Rejection

You might be aware that I’m actively querying my second-world fantasy novel. Maybe something to do with the theme of my last few posts.

Let’s just say, I’m not getting the nibbles I would like.

So, going from the not-so-useful to the potentially helpful, here are:

7 Ways Writers Handle Rejection:

1 – Lashing Out

These are the writers who write back, who tell the agent that they’re wrong to not fling money hand-over-fist at them. These are the writers who go to social media and call out agents for perceived faults.

These are the writers that agents warn each other about. The ones who helped encourage agents to never give feedback.

Clearly, this isn’t you.

(Of course, I’m not saying there are no problematic agents. I watch the literary news and gossip.)

2 – Indulging in substances

From the PG-13 versions of chocolate and ice cream, to the more adult versions of alcohol and pot, to harder substances, plenty of writers have been known to comfort eat/indulge themselves. Finding distraction and a sugar rush — or what have you — to help raise those endorphins.

3 – Walking Away

The literary world is hard. Constant rejection is hard. Some writers toss in the towel, either giving up on publishing and deciding to write for themselves and any online followers, or by giving up on writing altogether. Of course, if they ever change their minds their novel will be right there waiting for them.

4 – Binge Reading

Nearly every writer out there got into it because of our love of reading — and our dream of seeing the types of stories we want told in published books. Sometimes, the best way to find your enthusiasm for writing again is to remind yourself what you’re aspiring to — by reading books that give you characters and settings that consume you.

5 – Self-Publishing

Just do it yourself!

Traditional publishing is surrounded by gatekeepers, accepted tropes, dictated pacing, and a lot of waiting. In this day and age, one doesn’t have to subject oneself to all of that. You can take your novel, get it edited, and publish it yourself — controlling everything from the title to how it’s marketed. No need resign yourself to cover art you don’t adore or blurb text that pushes the wrong aspects of the story.

6 – Revision

Every rejection has one thing in common — the agents are rejecting your manuscript. (Not you, no matter how personal it feels). Maybe the problem really is with your query. Or your synopsis. Or your story. It might be time to take a good hard look at what you have and what the market seems to be looking for.

7 – Sending Out Another Query

And, of course, there’s the fact that maybe you just haven’t found the right agent. So, when you get one rejection in, you just send out a new query to a different agent. Maybe this one will see the not-so-hidden gem within your manuscript.


How do you handle rejection? What ways have worked? What ways haven’t been so useful?

Author Spotlight: Samantha Evans

  • an author of fantasy and adventure, mother, wife, and nerd from Northern California

Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Samantha Evans!

Samantha Evans is a fantasy fiction author, mother, wife, and nerd from Northern California. She has three children. All ages range from 6 and a half years old to age 3.

Samantha has a degree in Child Development from Humboldt State University. But she’s had a hobby of writing books since she was a little girl. In 2019 she wrote her first book, Ella. Discovered on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, it now has almost 140 reviews on Amazon.

She’s also an advocate for people who have Russel Silver Syndrome and epilepsy.

Samantha, thanks for agreeing to be here today. While most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

A dragon! I love dragons. I see them as beautiful creatures. Ella in my first book is a dragon. She is witty and loyal. Best pet to ever have! 😉

Oooh! Dragons are classics for a reason. Now I’m excited to read and meet Ella.

What do you write? And how did you get started?

Fantasy fiction is the way to go! I love creating words, and getting the reader into these worlds, and have them all interested.

I’ve been writing as a hobby since I was a little girl. But, it took until 2019 for me to write and finish my first book, Ella.

Definite my favorite genre, for those very reasons! And, I, too, was a writerly little girl.

What do you like to read?

Series! Like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Outlander, Bridgerton….so many series!

Ha! To be a lover of fantasy fiction, is always hard for those few who hate series. Once we commit to a world, we usually just want more!

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

You should write in [this style].

It’s how you write! When readers from other countries review, sometimes they do not like a certain writing style. But, all writers are different.

So true. A writer’s voice is the most personal aspect of their stories (or at least, one of the most personal aspects). Like a fingerprint, it’s hard to reproduce well. And, if you don’t like a writer’s voice, the story is just probably a bad fit for you. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad story!

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Get. An. Editor.

This is more specifically for the self-published author, but: If you are a self-published author then find a trustworthy person who is an editor, and can depict and understand your writing style!

Definitely! On all those counts. Just because you find a good editor, doesn’t mean that they’re right for your story. Make sure they edit in your genre and that their editing style has you feeling like your writing looks better, rather than wanting to argue with every editorial note..


Shameless Self-Promotion time!

The Dragon Master (The Journey Book 1) by [Samantha Evans]

Check out Samantha’s latest novel, The Dragon Master, book one of The Journey series, just released May 3rd, 2021:

Arabella is a girl of high standing, and her father wants her to marry someone she barely knows. But she wants to be someone more than just a member of the court.

With the help of some new friends and her curiosity, will she get her to wish to become what she wants, or will there be barriers along the way.

Samantha’s first series is the complete trilogy of The Land of the Four Series is out, (plus, a companion book, because Fantasy).

We’re introduced to The Land of the Four in Ella.

Prince Liam of Derzeli believes differently in what honor means. King Breen, Liam’s father, and Cullen, Liam’s brother, believe that real greatness is achieved once they slay a dragon. Liam thinks that dragons are majestic and do not deserve to die. King Breen, Liam’s father, brings Liam along on an expedition to slay a dragon.\

On one of the nights of the journey, Liam rescued a dragon’s egg. Liam decides to care for it, and it hatches on Liam’s birthday. Tragedy strikes, which leads to Liam having to leave Derzeli, and Liam goes on the run with the help of Ella, the dragon. Ella helps him escape and runs to a barren wasteland, where he saw himself to becoming a hermit for the rest of his life. But due to an event happening with the help of a new friend and a childhood friend, Liam has no choice but to return home. He has to decide to run away from his destiny, or embrace it, the chance of a king.


Check Samantha Evans out across the web!

Amazon | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

Week In Review: April 30

In Case You Missed it, here’s the round up of all of my latest content, plus updates from old guests!

Read on if you want to know more.

If not? See you next week with more writing tips and writerly musings.

Coming up this week:

On Youtube: My Lazy Sunday afternoon livestream write-in is back again from 4:30pm-6:30pm EST. Come, hang out, and we’ll probably even do a few productivity sprints.

Content Around The Web:

On Youtube:

  • The 13 Types of Responses Writers Get When Querying Agents: “Tales from a form rejection letter connoisseur”- Since I’m back in the query trenches, I’m talking about all the rejection — er, responses a writer can get from a query letter. (Apparently, there are things other than form rejections…)

On the Podcast “Writing Tips and Writerly Musings”:

On The Blog (In Case You Missed It):

  • The 13 Types of Responses Writers Get When Querying Agents: “Tales from a form rejection letter connoisseur”- Since I’m back in the query trenches, I’m talking about all the rejection — er, responses a writer can get from a query letter. (Apparently, there are things other than form rejections…)

Events:

None this week. I’ll be paneling at Balticon again this year at the end of May! (Plus, staffing it.)

What I’ve Been Reading:

A few rereads, plus The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg.

New Works By Previous Guests!

None this week.


I finally got my physical to-read shelf down so there’s only a SINGLE row stacked on top. The bottom shelf moved into this house with me. Everything on top and down to the scotty puppy divider I picked up last year (and/or borrowed from my mom.)

Morgan's to-read bookcase. 3 shelves high, with a row on top.

The 13 Types of Responses Writers Get When Querying Agents

Or, Tales of a Form Rejection Connoisseur

When you’re querying agents, unless you’re both very skilled and very lucky, you’re likely to get a collection of… letters, before you get an offer.

And most of that collection will be form rejection letters.

Why Form Rejections?

You’ve spent months to years hard at work, polishing your manuscript. Carefully selecting the right agent to query. So, you’d think you would earn a personalized rejection.

Sadly, that’s not how publishing works.

After decades of rejected authors lashing out at agents who rejected them for reasons the writer didn’t agree with, the ease of bulk email or online form querying, and, these days, the glut of new novels following a forced quarantine, the majority of agents, the majority of the time, send out form rejections. It saves them time and protects them legally.

But, not all agents have the same technique. What sorts of letters – form or not – can a writer expect?

The 13 Types of Responses To Queries

1. Silence

Many agents state that if they don’t reply in, typically 6 to 8 weeks, you should assume that “no response means no thank you”. These agents usually send a confirmation email when you query them, so you at least know your query went to the right place.

(Note: I have found that a non-zero percentage of these agents do eventually send a short “no thank you” email. Typically closer to double the given wait period)

2. Short and Not-So-Sweet

These agents don’t want to waste your time or their own. For these form rejections, there’s a short “Thank you for thinking of [agent], but [your story] is not right for our list. Best of luck.”

3. Polite and inoffensive

Many agents have decided the key phrase they should use in a rejection is “did not connect with the main character/story“. Mostly, because agents of yore found that it kept writers from trying to ‘fix’ the problem in three days and re-querying. It was hard to argue with “didn’t connect”.

There is a bit of push back these days, because “did not connect” can mean “you’re from a different background from [the agent] and this story isn’t what [the agent is used to],” but, the push for #ownVoices story is hopefully slimming out the instances where “did not connect” is used because of cultural divides.

These rejections are the most common form of form rejection I’ve found.

Typically, these are two paragraph rejection letters along this vein: “Thank you for querying [agent or agency]. While I did find the query interesting, I just didn’t connect with the story to the degree I would need to, in order to make you an offer.

Publishing is very subjective so it’s very possible someone else will love your story like I wish I could have. Good luck.

They’re not always that supportive, but many are.

4. Polite and late

These are the same as the polite and inoffensive “Didn’t connect. Publishing is subjective.” Just with a dash of “I’m so sorry for taking so long.

It is not uncommon for agents to take up to double the given wait time that is listed on their own agency website. After that, you might think about nudging.

I don’t usually see ‘Sorry for being so late” until the agent has passed that double-the-given-wait limit, but some apologize the day after their self-imposed deadline.

5. Generic Advice

These start off like “Polite and inoffensive”, and add in some generic writer advice. Sometimes, how to get beta readers. Sometimes, with links to writing or querying sites.

6. Feedback Lite

The next type of form rejection are the ones that leave you wondering if it’s a form rejection or actual feedback. The easiest way to find out is, if the agent is on QueryTracker, and you have a paid account (or friend with one), plenty of writers share their full rejection letters there.

Many agents have a selection of form rejection templates and use different ones depending on how much your story was outside their wheelhouse.

The most common form rejection with vague feedback unsurprisingly addresses the start of your story. You know, the pages you actually sent. As many writers, especially debut writers, start the story in the wrong place, most of this feedback addresses that.

The three main critiques are:

  • The story started too slow
  • The story threw us in before we were given reasons to care about the character
  • I’m not sure what the stakes are

The agent may even customize the form rejection with your title and main character names. It is actual feedback, but pretty commonly given and high-level.

7. Actual Feedback

The holy grail of rejection letters. Actual feedback.

Thank you for querying [agent]. While [some aspects] of [title] appealed to me, I felt that [something else] could use some work.

Thank you and good luck.

Awesome! And USEFUL. Something actually actionable.

8. The Partial

Since many agents ask for something less than 20 pages (if any) with their query package, it can be hard for them to glean much about your writing style and pacing from a query letter. While not an offer of representation, this is where an agent says “I like what I’ve seen, send me some more.”

9. Revise and Resubmit

This is when you really start getting your hopes up.

This starts off looking like not-form-feedback and ends with an actual invitation to resubmit to them if you make the proposed changes. If it’s not explicitly said, it’s probably not an “R and R”.

10. The Full

Just like the partial, only they’re asking for your entire manuscript.

11. Salt in the Wound

A form rejection after a partial, full, or R&R REALLY hurts. Especially, if it’s the one that give advice. On how to query or beta read. After they asked you for more pages. And you know it’s what they send the queriers the reject in 3 seconds flat, too.

A form rejection months after the “if you haven’t heard after 8 weeks, move on with your life.” You already got the point…

A shorter, less friendly form rejection… after they already rejected you. Probably one was from their intern. Or they were just clearing out their query folder and didn’t realize these were already done.

12. Set Up A Call

This type of letter, the agent says lovely things about your manuscript, and asks to set up a time to call you. Most agents only do this for offers of representation, some agents will do this for an R&R. Temper your hopes accordingly, but be prepared to ask questions, just in case it’s “THE Call”.

13. Offer of Representation

Congrats! You’ve graduated out of the query trenches. You can typically take a week or two to reach out to any agents with whom you have outstanding queries, partials, or fulls. Most will bow out, but it’s a great way to get a quick reply, and some may express interest.

Most agents will try to set up a call at this point. Otherwise known as “THE Call.”

Assuming you have a good rapport with the agent and decide to accept their offer, you now have an agent.

Some agents will have you revise your work immediately. Others will want to know if you have other stuff they can shop around as well.

But, now the agent will be submitting your manuscript to all those publishing houses. Hopefully with insider knowledge of which publishing Editors prefer which approach. It’s the agent version of the query trenches, but you’ve made it past one gatekeeper, and that much closer to traditional publication.


Are there any types of query responses I missed? I’ve heard of rude, insulting rejections but they seem apocryphal these days.

Tell me about your time in the query trenches.