How to Get Rejected

Sunday, September 2, 2012


  • John Berlyne, Agent
  • Susan MacDonald, Writer
  • Lee Harris, Editor for Angry Robot
  • John Helfers, Literary manager, Editor

[Note — This panel was extremely entertaining.  It’s been a year, and I can remember that it was a small, crowded room that wound up full of laughter constantly, mostly because of the banter of Lee Harris and John Berlyne.  Looking ahead at my notes, I wound up translating what they were saying into things a writer should do.  Their presentation, however, was examples of things a writer should NOT do, which was hilarious.]


The rules apply to you.  Keep your ego in check.

  • Work on your craft
  • Know the rules of structure
  • Investigate submission guidelines
  • Have some humility

You’re either a writer or not.  Finish your work before submitting

  • Be ready to write your book, more than once.
  • Don’t talk about your work: write it
  • You have the time to write.  You just have to make the time.

Talk to your peers, read about your craft

  • Take yourself out of your comfort zone
  • Join a writing group
  • Make sure you are challenged
  • Read outside your comfort zone
  • Go to odyssey
  • The agent wants your finished product, regardless of your comfort zone
  • Learn to discriminate the advice you receive.  It might not all apply to you.

When it’s finished enough, send it in.  Aim for “good enough”

  • You’re wasting your time if you don’t move on to new work
  • Put your first draft away for a while, then revise

Get opinions of your work from people that aren’t trying to protect you

  • The criticism you receive won’t always be right, but it’s always worth consideration
  • You’re going to hear stuff you don’t want to hear  [Note in the margin — I wrote “Ginny Good” here next to this point.  I have no idea why, or what it means.]

Send to agents and publishers that are interested in your subject material

  • Be polite and nice, even if you’re rejected
  • All the info you need for successful submissions are online
  • Don’t piss away your opportunity by not submitting properly
  • The query letter is the first example of your writing
  • Don’t lie in your query letter



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