Amulet Rejection

About a month ago I submitted a short story – Amulet of Kemet – to a magazine. The story has had the benefit of a good “working over” by a good friend of mine and I feel confident that it’s a story that can find a publisher…if I persist.

A few days ago, I received a rejection from the publisher. However, as rejections go, this one was excellent. The editor wrote a short paragraph telling me that the premise was thoroughly enjoyed, but the main character did things that didn’t fit with his status. I was then given three examples which were directly focused on the character, which is the most helpful feedback a writer can receive. This was followed by some words of encouragement and the request that I send other completed work to them for consideration.

Rejections are awful – they can often depress the writer, sometimes they can even shatter confidences – but when feedback accompanies those awful words then it doesn’t feel like a rejection at all. Of course, the feedback may not necessarily be correct, but on this occasion I believe the editor is right – the character is acting wrong for the circumstances he’s in. I can see that plainly now that it has been pointed out and I will take the time to implement changes to that affect before I submit the story elsewhere.

Thanks but No Thanks

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post, for once again Cat’s Eyes has been rejected. I’m pretty sure this one was a form letter, but it did say that they didn’t think the story was “strong enough” for representation by them. By “them”, I mean Curtis Brown Australia.

That’s two marks against “not strong enough”. Maybe that’s the standard reply these days, which would mean it means nothing. But, maybe it means exactly what it means. I don’t know. I’ll be keeping tabs in the future.

Oh well, I’ll add this rejection to the others and submit it again. I’m not sure where or when, but I do know it will be soon and somewhere. I’ll keep you informed.

The Package

What can I say about the package? I knew no good could come from it as soon as I saw it. Sitting there on the coffee table, gleaming smugly in the dim light, I knew straight away that this was a package that I wanted no dealings with, even if it did strongly call my name.

I tried to ignore it. I really did. Outwardly, I only just succeeded, but inwardly I was already a quivering mess. Going about my evening chores, my mind was possessed by the evilness trapped within the confines of the package. Would I be a willing partner in crime and let it out? Or would I make it suffer for all eternity? Because only if the package was opened could it reap its nastiness.

The pull was too strong and I succumbed to the pressure. I even tried to convince myself that I was wrong. But in truth, May has always been a bad month for me – for many, many years – so why would May of 2009 be any different? I guess I hoped that the cycle would be broken in the Year of Change.

But no. Cat’s Eyes has been rejected by Random House. But the news isn’t all bad. Buried in the evilness were words that I must believe were meant to lift my spirits so that I can survive this thing called Being a Writer.

Those words were: “…while I think your writing is of a high standard and the story would appeal to young girls, I didn’t feel that it was quite strong enough to stand alone on our list.”

My writing is of a high standard and the story would appeal to young girls. Those are the words that will encourage me to do more than throw the manuscript into a dark corner and forget it.

In my heart, after spending some time at the Kids at Random House website, I had already determined that my story did not fit their list so I am not surprised by the contents of the package in the slightest. Of course, I would have preferred to discover a wad of legal documents, such as contracts to be signed, but that will have to wait for another day.

The next step is to find a publisher where my story will fit snugly on their list.


I remember my first rejection letter. It was quite a number of years ago now, when my boys were young. I went and hid in the bedroom to open the “all important” parcel.

Trembling, I carefully opened the envelope and pulled out my manuscript. Without reading a word, I already knew what was in the brief letter attached because I assumed that if they were interested in my work then I’d be pulling a contract out of the envelope instead of my manuscript. I was right!


After many tears, I put the manuscript, and the letter, away and didn’t write another word for several years. The reason? I’d been rejected, which meant I couldn’t write. (I was young, and it was long before the internet existed, and I had no support–so you’ll have to forgive my way of thinking back then.)

About five years ago I started writing again. Maturity allowed me to read that rejection letter and realise that it wasn’t personal, it was a standard wording. This allowed me to pull the pieces together and find a new confidence.

Since then, I’ve received a number of rejections. All standard letters, but I never allowed myself to make the same mistake as I did with that first one. Naturally, finding the internet and a support base helped too.

If you’re a serious writer, you need to be thick skinned. You can’t afford to cry in a corner. There isn’t time for that. Besides, time is precious so why waste it feeling sorry for yourself. Get the work back “out there” and do it immediately!

Today, I received another rejection letter. It started with Dear Writer which means that it was a standard letter too. Whilst it was nicely worded and encouraging, I skimmed over it and dismissed it. They don’t want my story, fine, who’s next on my list? The story will be in the post, to the next publisher, by the end of the week.

Rejection: How should it be handled?

Rejection is something you will have to think about sooner or later if you decide to try and get your work published. Everyone gets rejected but what you need to keep in mind is that it is only your piece of writing that has been rejected, not you as a person. No matter how difficult it may be try to see the rejection in a positive light. The fact that you actually completed your story, revised it and rewrote it until you were satisfied that it was good enough to be sent to an agent or publisher is an accomplishment in itself. Not many people get this far, no matter how fond they are of their work.

If you received your manuscript back with a rejection slip or a quick “thanks but not interested” letter, sit down and go through your work again looking for obvious mistakes or inconsistancies. You should also remember that the rejection may simply be because that particular person or company doesn’t deal in your genre so you’ll be prompted to do your homework before sending your manuscript off next time. Also remember that what one reader loves, another will find to be trash.

If on the other hand, you received your manuscript back with an explanation as to why, swallow your disappointment and use this valuable information to your advantage. Read the letter through over and over again to make sure you understand exactly what it is saying then turn to your manuscript. Rewrite it if you have to but make sure you improve it in every way possible.

You need two things in this industry, which are, perseverance and determination. Even though rejection is painful and hurtful, accept it as inevitable. It’s going to happen. When it does, turn to someone who “understands”. Confide in family and friends or join a writers’ group for support and encouragement, but never… never… give up.