By now, I have gotten enough rejection letters that I have noticed that they are all pretty much the same:
Thank you for submitting your book. It is not quite what I am looking for… Best of luck on your endeavor to be published.
Another Random Unnamed Literary Agent
Though I really do appreciate the agents and publishing houses who do take the time to at least write back, versus those from whom you never hear again, I really do wish that there would be some constructive criticism. Is it that they didn’t like the book; the story line? The writing style? The formatting? It is like hiring managers of companies that get so many resumes that they divide the pile in half and just dump them without really looking at them? Is it that they read the first line or two and decide to dump it from there?
What are they looking for, exactly?
Just a head’s up out there for anyone who may read my books at some point and care: I do not write 100% G rated books. They aren’t even PG, honestly. They may be stretching the PG13 rating: In my first book, I do meet the quota of the allowable “F” words, (one to be exact), but the sex might be a bit over the top to qualify it as PG13.
That’s not to say that I have written the next 50 Shades, either. As one friend who has read what I wrote put it yesterday, I try to be “classy” in my description of the physical endeavors of my characters. These are, after all, books about grown up life and all that happens in it. As I told a friend on Facebook Messenger this past week, sex is truly about the only real perk of being an adult that I can see, besides maybe going to bed whenever you want, (which when given a choice as an adult is generally way earlier than you would have been told to do as a kid-joke’s on us), and getting to eat desert first (if your kids don’t see.) A total score as an adult is when sex and desert first (or only) happen at the same time. Anyway, I digress….
I have noticed that after 50 Shades hit the scene, sex scenes in books have become a lot more explicit overall. It seems to be what the readers of today want, I guess. However, as a writer, I strive to maintain a sense of dignity in my sex scenes because, well, honestly, people I KNOW will read these, including my own mother. And, someday, quite possibly my children. As much as people apparently like to read about BDSM, I would like to think, perhaps naively, that there is still room in the world for sweet, awkward, loving sex, with both people bumbling through it the first few times without either one of them being akin to a porn star and without accourtements being shoved into various orifices.
My second book is written in the late Comstock Era of Nevada. Sex then was still all tied up in an uptight Victorian package (no pun intended) and even though hormones and desire haven’t changed much, what people could do and say about them sure has. BDSM sex certainly would be even more out of place in this story.
So, back to my original point: I want to know what it is about my books. Are they not raunchy enough? Are my sex scenes not hot enough for today’s audiences? Is it my writing style? It is too juvenile? Too “wordy”? (Still one of my all-time favorite lines in a movie- “It has too many notes!”-Amadeus.)
My books are long. I am a windbag and apparently that extends to my fingers, as well. I love a good, long book full of the characters to whom I can relate. I recently had a publish author tell my books were WAY too long at over 170,000 words each. But that is how long it took me to get my characters’ stories out of my head and onto the computer. Apparently in this day and age of raunchy, hot, explicit sex, there is a sense that stories involving it need to be short and fast, as well.
But, my point is, I will never know without some feedback. I wish I could ask exactly WHAT about my stories didn’t fit their bill? I got brave enough to try once: I sent a response asking for some constructive criticism to a publishing house and got back in return a canned email explaining how to submit one’s work to their literary machine.
So, thus far, all I have gathered in this journey is:
- All literary agents and publishers have different rules and styles for submitting work.
- You are VERY lucky to receive any sort of rejection because usually you hear nothing.
- You will not get any feedback about why “your work is not what they are looking for.”
- The whole process takes an extraordinary amount of time. I have spent more time trying to find someone who might want to take a chance on representing me than I did on my first two books combined.
- Writing is a LOT more fun than trying to get published.
- At this point, I don’t really care if I get published or not. I am writing for my own mental health and stability. Of course, it would be great to get published and maybe even make a few bucks from my efforts. But, as it stands now, I am okay with just doing my own thing, quite honestly.
As always, thanks again for following me on this journey.