Friday, 6 December 2013

The Pain of Rejections

Since it's come down to the final few on my Pitch Wars submissions, I wanted to take a moment to discuss the process of rejections in Pitch Wars.

While it is incredibly hard for the writer to receive, it's also a heart breaking process for the mentor to go through too.

Let's look at why...


It just isn't ready

Sometimes, a submission comes through that just isn't ready to move on.  This could be a technical reason, a standard industry reason, or because the writing or concept just simply isn't strong enough.


Pages don't match concept

There's something really special about coming across a kick ass concept in your inbox.  You sit up a little straighter, read a little faster, and you get the "oh this is cool" feeling.  However, when you get to the pages, something falls flat.  This can be for a myriad of reasons - you don't connect with the voice, the characterisation is flat, the pace slow.  As a mentor, I try to give my reasons on each rejection, in order to help point the writer in the right direction.


It's not your personal taste

Now this one sucks for writers.  No really, it does.  Because it's the subjective side of the business that a writer can't do anything about.  Well, that's not true, you can study the wish lists and match your book up as best you can.  However, you can't guarantee you have it right because you can't mind read your mentor's head.  So, sometimes we come across the submission with a good concept and good writing but it's just not our style.  And that means it becomes a pass.


It's good, great even, but you like something else more

Again, one of those subjective passes that bite.  There were around 20 submissions I really liked.  Great premises, lovely pages, but...I found others that connected with me more.  This could be for all sorts of reasons.  Perhaps I was just in the mood to read a thriller that day.  Maybe someone's bold attempt with a sci-fi surprised me.  Or it might just be that I felt I could offer more to the Gothic writer.  Who knows?  What I do know is that these books are high quality, I pass them to the Up For Grabs folder, and hope that another mentor will see the merit and click a little stronger with it than I did.


Another mentor wants it

This is so hard.  Another mentor wants the submission and so do you.  And yet you can't both  have it.  So who gets it?  Well, there are a lot of elements involved here.  Firstly, who is most skilled to help this author?  Which mentor has worked more closely in this genre?  Does the writer display in their query which mentor would be their preferred choice?

Not only that, other things need brought into consideration too.  Both mentors need to look at their alternates and decided how strongly they feel about those applicants.  Are they willing to lose one?  Can they trade one for the other desired submission?  This isn't an easy decision, as not only does this involve personal preference, but it also relates back to those questions above.  Who can help these submissions the best?

Not to forget, an equally important part of the decision is which mentor is the most passionate about the submission (but in a lot of cases, this is equal).

At the end of the day, mentors have to be responsible enough to concede to another mentor if it is in the writer's benefit, or the benefit of the alternates.  As hard as it is, them's the breaks.







So those are my main reasons for passes.  Some are harder than others.  Giving up a submission I really like is next to impossible.  And it's not always the best written submissions I love.  Sometimes there's an indefinable X Factor that just grabs me and makes me feel at home, intrigued and curious.  Sometimes it's an amazing concept with writing that can be shined with work.  But the rejections are hard, hard, hard.  I've had to turn down some gorgeous writing, some stunning concepts, and some fabulous authors...all because I can only pick three.

So forgive me, my fellow writers, if I had to pass on yours.  Please know your talent has not gone unnoticed.

19 comments:

  1. Fiona, thank you for all of the time, passion, and compassion you've put into considering your entries and keeping us informed about your thought process. You are truly a generous soul. *Hugs*

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    1. I'm just trying to give back a little of all the wonderful help and advice that has been given to me. This is truly a wonderful community.

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    2. There definitely is a beautiful "pay-it-forward" desire in writers. Thanks for continuing the generous tradition.

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  2. Fiona, thanks for this thoughtful post. You've been so good about giving us some peeks into your process, and it really does help.

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    1. I'm glad it helps, Erika! I wish every application could succeed, I truly do!

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  3. Wonderful post, Fiona! I for one really appreciated your advice and helpful attitude. Nothing is a waist of time if it adds to the person you are! So thank you:) I've been added too!!

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    1. Glad you found the post helpful. I firmly believe that every experience teaches us and helps us to grow!

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  4. Thanks so much for taking the time to not only read all of the entries, but respond to them. And on top of THAT, to post these blog insights into your process. It really means a lot. <3

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    1. You know, I wish I had enough time to work with every book. There are so many deserving writers out there!

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  5. Thanks for this. Really helpful info! Would love to know if you're getting subs that you thought were great but not saleable in the current market.

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    1. Actually, there were one or two like that. It doesn't mean they won't make it, but it does mean that it could be a hard slog. In times like that with my own writing, I write something new and keep the other book safe until the market swings back around again!

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  6. Thank you for another behind the scene #PitchWars post. These are always great to read. Rejection is hard, but the fact you're giving feedback is nice. I'm sure it will help a lot out.

    Though, if one had to be rejected, the "Another mentor wants it" would probably be the best :) Then at least someone's taking the submission.

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    1. The "Another Mentor Wants It" is a wonderful rejections to have. I just lost one that way and it broke my heart. But it is fabulous news for the writer, as they know their writing is good enough for not just one, but two mentors!

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  7. Thanks, Fiona. I've realized that one of the reasons I keep going is because of encouraging comments like yours. It helps a great deal and reminds me we just have to persevere. That, and the fact that I can't imagine quitting writing :)

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    1. Persevering is my biggest piece of advice to writers. It took me 16 years to get my agent. And I just kept learning, and learning, and learning. If you keep going, it WILL happen.

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  8. Fiona, you're awesome. Thanks so much for the post because while it's nervewracking on the mentee side, at least we know you're not all sitting there, firing out rejections and laughing like the Hatter.

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    1. Oh god no! It's so heart breaking. I know how hard it is to submit time and again. I did it for 16 years! And now I'm on sub to the publishers and it's just the same!!!

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  9. Thanks for the encouraging posts through this process. I am amazed by all the generous mentors who are sharing their time and talent - through the holidays! Best wishes to you and all your mentees in Pitch Wars. I'll be watching!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! We're so lucky to have so many wonderful writers to choose from! :-) Happy holidays!

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