Rejection is not a word that an author wants to hear or read. This publishing decline can assume many forms: “doesn’t fit with our current offerings,” “our publishing schedule is full,” “you work is too [long or short],” and “your work is interesting, but …” Think of rejection as a job hunt. You’re going to have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince or princess.
All of which brings me to my tentative publisher rejecting my manuscript despite early interest. With this refusal comes a couple of warnings:
- Send your proposals to a number of publishers — there is no need at this stage to contact one publisher at a time.
- Beware of publishing houses that offer a variety of services for fees. This is more like a vanity press that will edit and market you work as a means to improve your status or show off your knowledge. Think of politicians who want/need a book to get voters attention, sell their ideas, and/or add money to their campaign chest.
- There are many self-publishing companies that will present your book without editing or expert review. This may be considered as a last resort measure to create interest in your work.
- Be very careful about pitching your book to an academic publisher such as the University of Prominent School Press. These publishers are more focused on promoting the work of their own faculty. Writing for an academic audience is very different than writing for a broad class of readers. This can be done with some effort. Your research should be from books, private collections [the letters and diary of historic person], and copies of newspapers. Avoid sources from the Internet. Citing Wikipedia, on-line dictionaries, or other web-based publications should be avoided. Academic publishing involves a gauntlet of peer and faculty reviews. This is like a Good-Housekeeping Seal of Approval. This process can take upwards of a year and may conclude with a rejection. Which brings up another problem. University presses want to see your expertise by obtaining a doctorate in your subject area. You may be a self-taught expert, but reviewers want to see if your credentials fit with their other authors.
- There are always exceptions to my suggestions, so use my comments as suggestions or cautions.
Let me hear your thoughts on these suggestions.
The public has this image of the writer sitting at his desk or her computer composing brilliant prose. It looks effortless. Perfect writing at first touch of fingers on keyboard. Oh, I wish it was that simple.
As Charlotte Ahlin put it, “Letting the words flow freely and getting a first draft done is an excellent, necessary first step, but it’s just the beginning.” Yes, it’s just the first step in producing a final manuscript.
“If you’re a writer, you’re an editor. The great writers are thorough. They dissect their drafts ruthlessly and repeatedly.”
Here are some methods used by famous authors from the three sources at the bottom of this blog.
- “Write drunk, edit sober” – Ernest Hemingway
- “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” – Agatha Christie
- “substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain
- “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” – Stephen King
- “If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.” – Kurt Vonnegut
- “Avoid cliches, avoid generalizations, find your own voice, show compassion, and ask the important questions.” – Amy Tan
- “… cardinal rule of showing and not telling the story – Anton Chekhov
- “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” – Octavia E. Butler
- “The final pass is when I read through a printed version of the chapter on paper. Reading on paper is necessary if you’re going to root out odd constructions or minor errors.” – Cal Newport
- “When I’m done with the chapter, I print it and go through it with a pencil, and do the same for the entire manuscript when it’s done. I also read the finished work aloud.” – T.J. Stiles
- “What I like to do is edit a chapter before I move onto the next one.” – Viet Thanh Nguyen
- “For me, editing is as important as writing. No, probably even more important. I’ve never been able to sit down and write the perfect sentence. I re–write constantly.” – Andrea Wulf
- “I edit every morning, every day. Cut cut cut cut cut cut — as much as I can. I want my stuff lean and mean, with no wasted words.” – Bryan Burrough
- “I go from being kind to myself to being brutal. Every word is suspect, every sentence a potential embarrassment. Every idea has to be interrogated, every bit of dialogue examined, every scene put the to the test of ‘What does this contribute to the story? Why? Do I need this scene? What does it add?’” – Sabaa Tahir
- “I print the beast, grab my sharpie, and go somewhere other than behind my computer. I read, mark, sketch, slash, draw arrows, and slash on the page.” – Joe Ballarini
- 17 Of The World’s Best Writers On The Editing Process, Writing Routines, https://www.writingroutines.com/tips-for-editing/
- The Fascinating Work Habits of 18 Famous Writers (Infographic),
- How To Edit Your Manuscript, According To The Advice Of 11 Famous Authors, https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-edit-your-manuscript-according-to-the-advice-of-11-famous-authors-7594285
Posted in Scratch Pad
Today is World Book Day! Please get a copy of one of my books.
The Analyst – $16 for paperback and $0 for Kindle Unlimited members
Teacher of Civil War Generals: Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Soldier and West Point Commandant – $35.67 for paperback and $19.99 for Kindle e-book
Your Affectionate Father, Charles F. Smith – $15 for paperback and $0 for Kindle Unlimited members
Charles A. Marvin – “One Year, Six Months, and Eleven Days” – $10 for paperback
Preparing for Disunion: West Point Commandants and the Training of Civil War Leaders – $25.97 for new paperback and $22.47 for used paperback
Please post a review on Amazon.
I just learned about new review of Teacher of Civil War Generals on the StrategyPage – The News as History. A. A. Nofi’s review reports, “Mesch does an excellent job of telling Smith’s story, while helping the reader get a better grasp of the military practice of the day.”
I do take one exception to Mr. Nofi’s comment, “Although not definitive, given the sparsity of original sources, this is an interesting book about an important and influential officer who ought to be better known.” This book would not have been possible without the wealth of personal letters, military orders, and diaries.
Please see Teacher of Civil War Generals: Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Soldier and West Point Commandant.
Please allow me to brag about my brother-in-law, James Irwin. Jim is an excellent painter and asked me to supply some Civil War photographs as subject matter for his art work.
Today, Jim sent me three of his paintings.
Battle of Chancellorsville, VA
11×14 oil painting
Federal Hill Park Baltimore MD
16×20 oil painting
16×20 oil painting
These would make excellent additions to any Civil War Collection.
Please contact me if you would like to learn more about Jim Irwin’s artwork.