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AAS Q&A 4This month, I asked the All about Submissions team the following questions: How do you cope with rejections? What do you do with the rejection letters – even if they are just form letters? I shared some of our answers yesterday in Part One. Here are the remaining answers plus links to some excellent posts. Please feel free to comment and share your tips for coping with rejections. And remember, if you have questions you would like answered, either ask it in the comment section or contact me by clicking the “contact” button at the top of this page.

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Teresa Robeson, author and artist

teresarobeson.com

Rejections used to get me into a deep funk. I think that’s partly why I gave up writing for a while in the 2000s (that, combined with the stress of homeschooling two young kids during that period). I had some wonderfully encouraging, personalized rejections among the form ones, but it was still so depressing.

I think that, with age, I have grown a thicker skin and now rejections don’t bother me as much. They still do, but they don’t define my self-worth. Also, I’ve gotten fan letters and compliments (from readers and editors) on my published works, and that really helps to sustain me when I receive a rejection.

Because I’m semi-organized (more hypothetically than in practice), I save all my rejection letters in files, either real or virtual. I occasionally, like once every seven years, pull out the encouraging ones to look at, but I don’t do anything with them otherwise. No need to re-live the angst of the form rejections, and I hold the good ones in my heart anyway.

As much as rejections pain me, in today’s world of “we’ll reply only if interested,” I would rather receive a form rejection than no rejection at all!

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Sophia Mallonée, Children’s Writer

www.sophiamallonee.com

Rejections suck. Yeah, your skin might grow a little thicker over time, but there really is no getting used to the rejection process.

For me, my coping mechanisms vary from rejection to rejection. The best rejections are the personalized ones. With those, I like to pick apart the letter and try to view my manuscript the way the agent or editor did. Can I utilize their advice? I’ll pour over my manuscript and try to find any weak links that I might be able to strengthen. I take these rejections as learning experiences. Yes, it still sucks to be rejected. But at least in these cases (most often) I’ve received a little bit of knowledge as a consolation prize.

It’s the form rejections that are the worst. It’s more difficult to take away a great lesson when you receive an “It’s wonderful…but just not for me” type of letter. That always stings. It’s like a breakup where you’re never able to say how you felt in the end, and the closure is never had. Why? Just give me something. If it’s so wonderful, then why is it not for you? It took me a while to let go of those rejections. But I get it. I know that a manuscript can be good and still not connect with you – I read stories like that all of the time – for no particular reason. I understand that to respond to every single query/submission would be a ridiculous waste of time. But still, just because I understand the rejection process, doesn’t mean I have to like it. I definitely allow myself to have a mini pity-party, followed by a phone call or lunch with my critique buddies, where we all commiserate. After that, I’ll write something new. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished and happy than diving into a new story.

I like to keep my rejection letters. I keep all of my electronic rejection letters filed away (even if they’re form) in my email. That way, if I query or submit to the same agent/editor again in the future, I can reference back to any correspondence we might have had in the past.

I don’t, however, keep any paper rejections unless they’re personalized and mailed to me. I don’t have the time or space for extra paperwork.

I’ll mention that I also have a running “Submission Tracking” spreadsheet that I maintain. I track all letters received, dates and any specific notes next to the agent/editor info on this sheet. That way, even if I don’t have the letters themselves, I’m still able to reference specifics quickly.

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Cindy Williams Schrauben, Children’s Writer

Raising Book Monsters – kids who devour books and hunger for knowledge

http://www.RaisingBookMonsters.com

What do I do with form rejections? I log them (on my submission spreadsheet) and forget them. Done.

How do I cope with rejections? This question sounds very straight forward, but there are many variables. I can say, though, that my coping mechanisms have become much stronger over time and I can even say that I am grateful for them – okay, not grateful that they said NO, but grateful for the fact that they responded at all.

My first few rejections were very difficult – I, simply, didn’t know how it worked. I had written a story – a good story, so I thought – and put it out there for the world to see. Time for agents to start knocking at my door, right? Finding that others didn’t share my passion for this manuscript was, initially, really tough. I know now that it isn’t quite that easy. But I can say that I ALWAYS read a rejection like a critique, quickly the first time… let it sit… and then read it again later with less emotion and more objectivity.

Call it rationalization if you like, but I cope with rejections by asking myself a couple questions:

Was this a dream agent? If the answer is no, I tell myself that this rejection is just getting me closer to the right one. If the answer is yes, well, I blubber away for a while and then I eat some ice cream.

Another determining factor is the type of rejection – they are not all created equal. Form rejections, for example just suck; that’s all there is to it. There is nothing to learn from them other than perseverance and a tough skin. One way to help is to go to Literary Rejections and read about all the hugely successful authors who have been rejected hundreds of times.  Their tagline is: “helping writers persevere through rejection.” Their web and Facebook sites both offer commiseration and inspiration.

Personalized rejections are a different story entirely. I recently received one from an agent that included real reasons for rejecting my work. It wasn’t a copy/paste response like: “I wasn’t in love” blah, blah, blah, or “not a good fit” blah, blah, blah, but offered some constructive criticism.  I treat these rejections like gold. They are, in fact, critiques from someone who truly knows the business. Sure, it is just another opinion, but an informed one to say the least.

My final piece of advice/rationalization is to tell myself that I want an agent who LOVES my work. Period. If they don’t… well, they aren’t right for me.

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Sylvia Liu, Writer-illustrator

portfolio: www.enjoyingplanetearth.com

blog: www.sylvialiuland.com

Sylvia Liu is a winner of the Lee & Low New Voices Award. http://blog.leeandlow.com/2014/01/15/announcing-our-2013-new-voices-award-winner/

I am very practical and dispassionate about rejections. I figure it’s a numbers game and I will need to rack up many rejections before I find the right fit. I also look on the bright side. If I get deafening silence, I can imagine that the agent or publisher is still pondering the story. If I get a form letter, I get closure. If I get a quick rejection, I’m happy to move on. If I get personalized feedback, I am thrilled to improve my story and am buoyed by the prospect that it is one step further out of the slush pile.

The hardest rejections are after an agent has requested more work and they end up passing on my work. It’s hard not take that personally, but it does spur me to keep strengthening all my pieces.

I keep all my rejections. In the olden days, I’d get photocopies of form letters that I still have in an accordion file. Nowadays, I keep an “Agent Correspondence” file in my emails. My favorite rejection was one where my husband and I submitted a piece he wrote and I illustrated about six years ago. The rejection was addressed to him, but the line, “Tell Ms. Liu her illustrations are brilliant,” still sustains me today.

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Alayne Kay Christian, Award Winning Children’s Author

Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa

Represented by Erzsi Deak, Hen&ink Literary Studio

Before I share this month’s links, I want to make one point. Many of the All about Submissions team members mentioned developing tough or thick skin. First I want to say that a form letter rejection, a kind/helpful rejection, or the emptiness of no response from a manuscript submission can all be perceived as criticism. I believe one excellent way to develop thick skin and practice coping with criticism is to join a critique group. But here’s the thing about critique groups, a critique partner who is afraid of hurting someone’s feelings and therefore is not as honest as they can be about their crit partners’ manuscripts is doing a disservice to their fellow writers. Be honest. Tell what you see, think, feel. Critiques are like dress rehearsals for rejections. The author of the manuscript can decide if they agree with you or not. Of course, you want to give positive feedback as well. Ask your critique partners to help you out by honestly telling it as they see it.

Links:

From Jessica P. Morrell

Three posts (all appear on the same page – if you click on any one of the three links below, you will access the page):

What Editor’s Notice

Top Eleven Reasons Why a Manuscript is Rejected

Tips for staying out of the rejection pile

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From OneWildWorld.com:  SIX GUIDELINES FOR TURNING REJECTION INTO SUCCESS by Carol Despeaux

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From Distractify: 10 PAINFUL REJECTION LETTERS TO FAMOUS PEOPLE PROVING YOU SHOULD NEVER GIVE UP YOUR DREAMS by Averi Clements

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From Kristin Lamb’s blog: HOW TO TAKE CRITICISM LIKE A PRO by J.E. Fishman

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From MORE online magazine: KATHRYN STOCKETT’S “THE HELP” TURNED DOWN 60 TIMES BEFORE BECOMING A BEST SELLER

by Kathryn Stockett

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TOP 10 FAMOUS BOOKS THAT WERE ORIGINALLY REJECTED

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From Schuler Books Weblog: 30 FAMOUS AUTHORS WHOSE WORKS WERE REJECTED, by Michelle Kerns

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Romelle Broas shares a humorous post, REJECTION LETTERS FROM A POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE

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Tidbits from Alayne

Two responses to rejections that I see in the writing community that I enjoy are as follows:

Onword and upword! (spelling intentional)

Now I’m one step closer to publication (variations: signing with an agent, a book contract)

A list of all the ALL ABOUT SUBMISSIONS posts.

 

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VOTING HAS ENDED . . . VOTING HAS ENDED . . . VOTING HAS ENDED

Because there were only six story entries in the Grandparent’s Day writing contest, I am announcing our six finalists and voting will start early. However, voting will remain open until the time originally stated in the contest rules – Friday, August 30 at 11:59 PM CDT. Winners will still be announced on Saturday, August 31 by 11:59 PM CDT.

All you have to do is read the six stories, note the number of the story that you like best, and vote on the poll at the bottom of this page. If you would like to read more about the contest or learn about the prizes go to  WRITING CONTEST IN HONOR OF GRANDPARENT’S DAY.

The contest inspired all kinds of long-distance love stories: Love across technology, heavenly love, old memories love, across the ocean love, funny love, and runaway love, What a variety of touching and fun writing. I am so happy that the contest helped encourage these writers to tell their stories.

The stories or links to stories are listed below.

Thanks to everyone for participating, and best of luck to the finalists.

STORY # 1

Where’s My Grammy?

by Sally Phillips

Emma spent her summers visiting Grams wonderful bakery. It was always filled with Emma’s favorite goodies. There were ooey-gooey chocolate frosted donuts and chewy soft pretzels. Baking marble rye breads and fruity pies of very kind kept Grams busy.

One day, Grams said, “Let’s make gingerbread cookies.”

Emma clapped her hands, “Let’s make Grammy cookies! That way when I go, I’ll have cookies to remember our visit.” Molly barked her approval.

Grams mixed the spicy dough and rolled it out. She cut a grammy shape. Emma added raisins and a tiny cherry for her nose. Grams drew a smile into the dough and popped it into the oven.

After baking, Grams put it on the counter to cool. “Just a few extra touches,” said Grams pulling out a bag of red licorice. Emma added it for her grammy’s hair with icing to tack it down. Grams used icing to draw a sweatband and racing shoes.

“That’s just like you Grams,” said Emma pointing to a picture.

“That’s when I won the long distance race last year,” said Grams smiling.

Then, quick as a flash the cookie disappeared from the counter. The screen door slammed like a 4th of July firecracker.

“Oh, no said Grams, I should have never added those racing shoes. The Grammy cookie has run off!”

Grams and Emma were out the door in a flash. “I see something brown running down the road,” said Emma.

Chasing after her grammy gingerbread cookie, Emma soon came across a police officer. “What’s going on?” asked Officer Jane.

“My Grammy cookie is running away,” said Emma catching her breath.

Officer Jane saw Grams running down the road. “I’ll call for back up. Well get your Grammy back,” she called to Emma. Officer Jane ran down the road.

Emma passed a field full of soccer players. “What’s going on?” the team captain asked.

My Grammy cookie is running away,” called Emma.

“We’ll get her, come on boys,” he said. All the players ran down the road too.

Emma heard a whirling sound overhead. It was a TV helicopter. “We heard on our radio that your Grammy from the bakery is missing,” the reporter said. “Well fly around and find her.”

“No wait,” Emma said. “My Grammy cookie ran off, not my Grams!” But they had already flown away.

At the end of the road, the TV crew was recording all the action. “And here’s the girl with her missing Grammy.”

“I wasn’t missing,” said Grams. “We were chasing Emma’s grammy gingerbread cookie!”

Molly appeared out of the bushes. She had gingerbread crumbs around her mouth. Molly’s nose had a red cherry on it.

“You ate the cookie?” said Emma.

“And so we have it, a happy ending after all,” said the reporter. “News at 9”.

Emma said, “Let’s record the news tonight Grams. When we feel sad about being apart, we can watch our adventure all over again.”

“That’s better than a cookie,” Grams said laughing and gave Emma a big hug.

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STORY # 2

An Ocean Apart, 

Near by Heart

by Maria A. Velardocchia

Brrrring! The phone rang right on time! When Antoinette’s daddy nodded ‘OK’, she answered the phone before it could ring a second time. Antoinette was so excited! She knew the phone call was from Pappou, her grandfather in Greece. On the first day of each month, at 8:00 in the morning, either Pappou called Antoinette’s house, or Antoinette’s daddy called Pappou. They took turns, and this month it was Pappou’s turn to call.

“Hi, Pappou!” Antoinette said, with a smile in her voice.

“Hello, my Antonia,” said Pappou. Pappou liked to call Antoinette by her Greek name. “Tell me how you are and what you’ve been doing, so I can hear your beautiful voice.”

“Oh, Pappou, we’re all doing well here in Florida. The weather is so nice and mommy and daddy have been taking me to the beach a lot. Daddy says it reminds him of when he was a little boy in Greece and you used to take him to the beach in the summer.”

“Yes, Antonia, your daddy is right. We would pack our lunch and go to the beach every day. It was your daddy’s favorite place to go,” Pappou said in a voice that sounded like he was remembering.

“Pappou, did daddy like to find shells on the beach?” Antoinette asked.

“Find shells, you ask? He sure did. Not only shells, but here in Greece we have beautiful little pebbles on our beaches. They are smooth and colorful, and your daddy loved to bring a favorite one home each day,” answered Pappou.

“He did?” asked Antoinette. I like to collect rocks. I guess that’s another way we’re alike!”

“Yes,” Pappou said. “Antonia, you remind me very much of your daddy when he was eight years old like you.”

“I know what, Pappou!” exclaimed Antoinette. “When we go to the beach today, I’m going to have daddy take a picture of me holding some shells. Then, when I write you my letter, we’ll send you the picture so you can see me at the beach!”

“Oh, Antonia, what a good idea!” said Pappou. “I can’t wait to get the picture! And do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to find a picture of your daddy and me at the beach, many years ago, and I’m going to send it to you!”

“Hooray, pappou! I’m so excited! I’m going to get ready for the beach now while daddy talks to you. I love you, Pappou,” said Antoinette.

“I love you, too, Antonia,” said Pappou.

Two weeks later they got a letter from Pappou! Daddy carefully opened the envelope. There was a letter for daddy and mommy, and a letter for Antoinette. Tucked inside Antoinette’s letter was a picture of Pappou and her daddy at the beach. She loved the picture! As Antoinette went to bed that night, she held the picture close to her heart and dreamt of the day she would visit Pappou in Greece.

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STORY # 3

Grandma, Can You Guess How Special You Are?

by Kristina (Senese) Johnson

Grandma, can you guess how special you are?

This is my story and now you are the STAR!

When you are here or when you are there

You can count all the clues of the times that we share.

Clue number ONE is the first to let you know

It’s something you do from my head down to my toes.

Lots of smooches and big hugs that are so tight

I love to cuddle when you tuck me in at night.

Moving on to the next clue that is number TWO

In counting with numbers that is what you do.

Sitting at my house and watching me play

Us taking a nap together after a long hard day.

Using my fingers counting to clue number THREE

This you do in the kitchen and it makes me hungry!

Lots of baking and tasting so many delicious treats

Sitting next to me at the table when it is time to eat!

Clue number FOUR is a clue that I adore

But don’t you worry there are so many more.

You and I get to giggle and talk on the phone

The sound of your voice has such a friendly tone.

Next it’s time to count to the clue that is number FIVE

This is what you and I do as soon as you arrive.

I like when you play games with me like hide and seek

Grandma, do those glasses really help you to peek?

Using both hands to count to clue number SIX

This is a clue like the others that is easy to pick.

Your laugh is jolly with a rosy cheek on each side

You light up a room with your smiling eyes.

Bunny ears on one hand makes this clue number SEVEN

Another clue that shows how you are a loving person!

Really smart and funny, so soft and so gentle

Grandma, you don’t complain when I’m a lot to handle!

Wiggling my fingers to count to clue number EIGHT

All have been good, but this clue is sure great!

You are my Grandma forever and for always

How happy I am when you tell me all of your stories!

What can I say about clue number NINE

Just like apple pie Grandma, you are so devine!

When you are here or when you are there

I think of you always and how we are a pair.

The last clue is important it is clue number TEN

It is hard for me to say to you so carefully listen

My special grandma, I love when you are near

I don’t like to say “goodbye,” it brings me to tears.

Now that you have counted all the ways you are a STAR

Grandma, have you guessed how special you are?

One day when I am older and a much bigger me,

The memories of us Grandma, how special they will be!

I LOVE YOU GRANDMA!

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STORY # 4

Helen Velikans’s story  “I Hate Grandparent’s Day” can be read on her blog.

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STORY # 5

Donna Sadd’s story “Vacation Sport” can be read on her blog.

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STORY # 6

Linda Schueler’s story  “Messages” can be read on her blog.

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ImageLucky for Sophie and Chloe, Grandma Tillie knows how to royally entertain her grandchildren. To their delight, whenever Grandma Tillie babysits, she seems to disappear, only to be replaced by a parade of lovable characters. There’s Tillie Vanilly with the bright pink hair, star of The Tillie Vanilly Show, who loves to tell jokes and dance the conga; Chef Silly Tillie with the lampshade hat who offers up a dinner of Worm Chili with Glue Gravy; and Madame Frilly Tillie with the sparkly eyeglasses and towel turban, the world’s most creative bath-bubble stylist. Sophie and Chloe wonder who will appear to tuck them into bed: Hiker Hilly Tillie, Explorer Chilly Tillie, or Zoo-lady Gorilly Tillie? To their surprise, it’s the best character of all—just plain Grandma Tillie. Available at Amazon.com.

Image

Emily loves to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Like most grandchildren, she is showered with affection and enjoys the freedom to eat sweets, stay up late, and help Grandma in the garden. But when Emily’s visit with her grandparents ends, she’s saddened by thoughts of missing them. To comfort her, Grandma gives Emily a book that teaches her to use her imagination, memory, and natural surroundings to help her feel close when they are apart. In a surprising role reversal, Emily comforts Grandma by sharing her own secrets for staying close. Great Grandparent’s Day gift for long-distance grandparents who miss their grandchildren. Available at Amazon.com

ADDITION OF NEW PRIZE! Today, I received a signed copy of Mercer Mayer’s “Grandma, Grandpa, and Me.” All contest participants will be included in a drawing for the chance to win this great bounus prize.

Grandma, grandpa, and me v2

Little Critter is having a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm! He’s excited—there is so much to see and do. Join Little Critter as he helps his grandparents milk the cows, pick blueberries, and bake a pie for the contest at the Country Fair. There are many delicious pies in the contest, but Little Critter’s pie has a secret ingredient that is sure to make it a favorite!

ABOUT THE CONTEST

This year, in the US, National Grandparent’s Day falls on Sunday, September 8. Because I am a long-distance grandparent, and my picture book “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa” is about a little girl with long-distance grandparents. I have decided to make the long-distance grandchild/grandparent relationship the focus of this writing contest. I know, could I repeat “long-distance” one more time 🙂

CONTEST RULES

  • Write a picture book story (500 words or less) about a child with long-distance grandparents.
  • Post the story on your blog by Friday, August 23 at 11:59 PM CDT. Please include a blurb about the contest and a link back to my blog.
  • Between Friday, August 23 and Sunday, August 25 at 11:59 PM CDT, comment on this blog page announcing the title of your story along with a link to your posted story/blog page.
  • If you do not have a blog, paste your story as a comment on this blog page.
  • I will share a list of all story/blog links on Monday, August 26 by 11:59 PM CDT.
  • The links to the stories will remain posted so everyone will have a chance to read them.

JUDGING ANNOUNCEMENT! VOTING HAS STARTED – CLICK HERE TO GET TO VOTING PAGE

  • My handsome assistant and I will determine the top six finalists, and they will be announced on Wednesday, August 28 by 11:59 PM CDT. The winners will be determined by popular vote as follows:
  • The finalists’ stories will be posted at the same time as they are announced (8/28), and voting will begin.
  • Voting will remain open until Friday, August 30 at 11:59 PM CDT.
  • Winners will be announced on Saturday, August 31 by 11:59 PM CDT.

PRIZES

First Place – $25 Amazon gift card, plus a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa” and a highly *detailed picture book manuscript critique from me.

Second Place – One highly *detailed picture book manuscript critique from me plus a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa.”

Third Place – A signed copy of Laurie Jacobs’s picture book, illustrated by Anne Jewett,  “Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie” and a signed copy of “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa.”  (true confession – I wish I could win the signed copy of Laurie’s fun picture book 🙂

*Please note that my critiques skills are strong with the exception of pictures books written in rhyme. My ability to critique picture books in rhyme is limited.

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