I. Am. Still. Writing.

by limebirdkate

So, I have some disappointing news. The literary agent that requested my full manuscript rejected it. Here is the rejection in all its informational glory:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share in your work. Your language and prose are beautiful, but unfortunately the manuscript isn’t a good fit for us at this time. We encourage you to submit future projects to our agency and wish you every success in all your literary endeavors.

I’m disappointed, of course, but I do take heart in the fact they thought my language and prose are beautiful. I view that as half the battle. I feel honored that they have invited me to submit another project. That’s a point won, also.

I wish I knew more about why it isn’t a good fit. They asked for a full, so I assume they read the full. They requested an exclusive read, which meant that I was not allowed to share my manuscript with another agent while this agency had it. Wouldn’t you think that they would have given me a more substantial reason as to what wasn’t working for them? Was it subject matter? Too much action? Not enough? Poorly developed characters? Faulty structure?

This rejection for a full is way too similar to rejections I get from just sending out a one-page query. That is disheartening. I can understand that agents can’t write personal rejections for every query they see. However, how many full manuscripts do they request in a month’s time? I’m an invested author. If an agent had some suggestions or pointed out problem areas, I would pay serious attention to the matter. Even if they thought the story won’t fly and needs a complete re-write. I’d be on it.

Alas, that isn’t even the worst of it. I shared my bad news with some very important loved ones. Family and friends who have watched my struggle in the writing game, some from way back in the day when I was writing a family gossip column and handing out copies to all the family members.

One person completely went off on me. “Now will you give up writing? Stop trying to get your damn story published. It is NEVER going to happen. NEVER. I know this is your dream, but not everybody’s dream can come true. And that’s just the way life is, Kate! After a while you have to tell yourself it’s not going to happen and do something else. This has gone on and on way too long. Face the music—give up the writing and move on.”

Yeah, well, that’s pretty much the gist of it. Some other things were said, none of which are appropriate to post here. Needless to say, I’m not the happiest Limebird out there.

I am trying to push through that garbage, because anyone who has the audacity to kick someone while they’re down wouldn’t normally be worth my time. However, this isn’t just a nasty anonymous blogger. This is someone who is a part of my life. Somehow, I have to work around this obvious glitch in the relationship. That, on top of figuring out what is wrong with my novel, and I’m kicking off March to a beautiful start.

I post this traumatic experience not to seek sympathy. Rather, to show all the jerks out there that I. Am. Still. Writing.


117 Responses to “I. Am. Still. Writing.”

  1. Oh Kate, when I read this I actually felt my whole body sink. I am so gutted for you, really.

    It’s a real shame that they didn’t take the time out to actually give you more constructive feedback than that, but I guess that’s the type of writing world we live in. 😦

    Oh and to the person that told you to give up writing, I say a resounding (and you can quote me on this) bugger off! Do not give up your dream for anyone, if you want something you should fight fight and fight some more until you succeed. You can do this, I know you can. You’ve got it in you to do whatever you want to. Someone will pick up your manuscript and scoop you up and you can sit with your head held high that you did it.

    I’m looking forward to buying your shiny printed book (signed copy of course).

    Never give up.

    B x

    • Hi Beth,

      Thanks for your support. ‘Tis a shame they couldn’t go one step further, but you’re right, it’s just the way this industry operates sometimes.

      Right. I have to keep fighting. No matter how much it might annoy someone, and boy, does it annoy someone! lol. Oh well, you certainly learn a lot about people when the chips are down. It’s an eye-opener.

      Of course, signed copy reserved for B. 🙂

    • Amen sister friend!

  2. You won’t say it for you, but I will. !^@&%#^%@%@ bastards!!!

  3. Okay, one more thing and I promise to shut up. I shouldn’t reply before I finish reading posts.

    I hereby volunteer to jump on a plane, fly to wherever this wankchop lives, and slap the living daylights out of their fool self on your behalf.

    Because sometimes violence IS the answer.

  4. Sorry that your work was rejected and that you didn’t get the feedback that you would have expected after they asked for the full script, I would contact them again and ask them for feedback as you would like to get it right.
    Family and friends can be your harshest critic and most of the time your ally, When f/f start critisicing you for having a dream maybe they are jealous or have had a dream shattered themselves. You do right to carry on writing, it is better to have dreams than not so I say GO FOR IT.

    • Hi Sandnige,

      I guess I could ask for a more detailed reason. I am not pushy by nature, which is partly the reason this whole process has taken me this long. I suppose I shouldn’t look at it as being “pushy” either…

      Family and friends, ugh. I don’t know anymore if I can continue to share news or updates with them. You hit the nail on the head with this particular person, because they gave up their dream a long time ago and is miserable in their current job. Jealousy is definitely a player here.

      Thanks for your encouragement. It’s nice to know I’m not as irrational as I feared. 🙂 Stubborn, most definitely.

  5. Thank God you are still going! Don’t let ignorant people tell you to stop. Sounds like this person doesn’t know the writer-Kate or even what your story is like!

    Keep going! Just revise your ms before sending it out again. See if you can find a beta reader or new critique partner to help you out.

    • Hi Novel Girl,

      I guess you’re right about that. This person definitely doesn’t know my writer-self, which as we writers know is a completely different persona than any other we project.

      Thank you for your encouragement. I will scrutinize the novel to see where I went wrong. I am in a writing group, but I think your advice is right. I may need to find some new sets of eyes. But I’d been thinking that for a while anyway. It’s funny how things come together at the same time.

  6. I heard the same type of comments back in 1980, when I performed a “jury” – think musician’s final exam at university – in front of symphony players. Not the most pleasant experience, but I went on to a different aspect of professional music and earned a living for the next 27 years until I retired. You can do it! And those that dismiss your dreams aren’t worth your time. Keep at it!

    • Hi D.J.,

      I didn’t know you’re a musician. What do you play?

      I can imagine what a stressful experience that must have been. Ugh.

      You’re absolutely right–people who stomp on someone else’s dreams aren’t good for the soul. Unfortunately, this poses a problem for me as it is a “close” relationship. I shall have to do a lot of thinking about it…but I prefer focusing on my novel for now. That’s a more enjoyable fight!

      Thanks for your support.

  7. In my personal and often hurtful experience I have discovered that even though there is that one that can really hurt, there are many more supportive beings out there, so make sure you listen to the majority who believe in you and keep repeating that excellent affirmation.

    The best thing abut rejection is you get your baby back, it is good enough, it just wasn’t a good match and they didn’t have the foresight to know that earlier, so get it back out there, keep taking steps forward. Bonne Courage!

    On a side note, I just saw this which may be of interest, agent Jonny Geller lets the cat out of the bag on what those standard rejections really mean. Now he’s finding he has to start facing the truth!


    • Hi Claire,

      Yes, this is when I am so relieved to belong to this great site at Limebird. Everyone is so supportive of each other and I do feel like this is my writing family. We’re all in the same boat, more or less. I feel like my experiences, as dreadful as they are, will be helpful in some way to another writer.

      I like the way you think re rejection. It’s true. I got my baby back, and now I will look at it from the perspective of knowing that my writing isn’t necessarily the problem, but the story. Heck, it’s a starting place.

      Thanks for the link. I will go check it out right now!

  8. I am sorry if I grossed you out, Beth. I’m a bit rough around the edges. I will try to play nicely with others on your site though.

    • Oh, it’s a gross thing! lol Okay, now I’m getting a visual. Thanks for that, er, lovely image to start my day. 🙂

      • Sorry then.

        I remember once joking back and forth with a co-worker calling each other “w**ker” (edited the grossness out for you there) and laughing out heads off..only to hear an outraged “oooh!” from an ancient lady who was sitting there. We had forgotten she was British.
        My coworker sheepishly asked her, “Is that a bad word?”
        She replied in an utterly scandalized tone: “It’s a terrible word!”
        We retreated to the next room. Out of her earshot, we kept calling each other “w**ker” and laughing for the rest of the afternoon.
        British bad words just aren’t real to us Americans.

      • Haha, yes if you called someone a wa**er here, it would be pretty bad!

    • Nah, wankchops is a goodun, no offence taken by this brit – feels like quite a playful insult to me!

  9. Hi Kate, don’t let them get you down. The very fact that you sent out your MS and opened yourself up to such scrutiny took a lot of courage. And the rejection simply means that the agent wasn’t quite ready to invest in you yet. I reckon they have a pre-compiled list of books they want for the year, and yours just missed out on genre or another silly reason like that.

    The very fact that you wrote this post shows your determination, and I am glad you you refuse to give up. Never mind what your mean family member said. They are obviously smarting from their own shortcomings, and lashing out at you to make them feel better. Send them on their way with love, and focus on your own goals. You will succeed. You are a successful writer.

    • Hey Spooky,
      Thanks for your support. It’s encouraging to know that some agencies have a list of books they’re looking for, so maybe that’s why I miss the mark.

      Yes, I would say I am determined, maybe even more so now that I’ve been told it will never happen for me. I guess I’m like a dog with a bone, I’m not letting go now for God sakes. I have put in way too much time and effort to just stop. What a ridiculous thought.

      And yes, you guessed it–this person is suffering from having given up on a dream, and is stuck in a pain-in-the-arse job. A cl-ass-ic case of jealousy.

      Thanks for your comments 🙂

  10. I’m Frustrsted for you! You expect your friends and family to be encouraging no matter what. To tell someone to give up a dream is cold hearted. There’s no need to stop trying just because you were rejected. That’s like telling someone to stop dating because their boyfriend left them. Love doesn’t die just because you dated a loser. I feel like I should start routing for you so you keep going. Keep going! 🙂

    • Hey there!

      True, you would expect family and friends to be the one support group that never wavers. Unfortunately, they’re also the ones who do the most comparing/contrasting.

      Great analogy. I love it. So true! How many times should you try anything before you give up? You can’t succeed if you give up, so the thought makes no sense.

      I appreciate your rooting for me. You can be head cheerleader. 🙂

  11. Oh dear goodness Kate I’m heartbroken for you, and ready to kick some booty! I can’t imagine someone kicking you down like that! That is just terrible, and I’m truly sorry that someone in your life is talking about your dreams like that.

    I think they are wrong! I’m just going to go back to where I always go…. STEPHEN KING. He is truly one of the greatest authors in America, at least success-wise if you don’t like his writing, and he was told time and time again to give it up. So I am glad to see you aren’t taking the poo-pooers to heart. You keep writing! Now you can send out for more queries right? ( I know nothing of this process you are going through).

    Well, like they say things happen for a reason. Maybe this agency didn’t take you but something amazing might present itself in a year or two or 10, you never know!

    I do send you virtual hugs!

    • Hi Laura,

      Thanks. I’m feeling a little heartbroken myself but I’m trying not to focus too much on it. I think that’s why I wrote the post. I want to turn it into the next stepping stone across the raging river, rather than the dam that stops me cold.

      People are cruel, especially when they’re feeling bad or low about their own stuff. And that’s what the problem really is–that they gave up on their dream at the first obstacle, so everyone else should too.

      Hearing about other writers who have endured similar struggles is helpful certainly. It is part of the process, and I am okay with that.

      Yes, I can go back to sending out queries. Although, I will probably take another gander at the story and maybe find someone who would be willing to read it through. I do belong to a writing group, but the downside is that none of them are fiction writers. This has posed a problem for me all along, but because of my limited free time, it was the only group I could meet with. Having said that, though, they have been extrememly helpful in many ways. So, I’m not knocking them. But I do feel like I need someone with an eye for fiction writing to take a gander at the book.

      Yes, things happen for a reason, and I keep trying my best. That’s the healthiest way to look at it.

      Thanks for your support!

      • Kate,

        I know I haven’t got a completely finished MS myself, but I’ve got a bit of experience in fiction writing (and reading lots of fiction! :P), if you wanted me to look over your MS? I would be more than happy to. However, I understand that you might prefer someone you didn’t know quite as well (or with more experience). Anyhoo, give me a shout if you need me!


      • Hello again Kate,
        Have you tried http://www.writeandshare.co.uk? It’s a great community where we critique each other’s work and share experiences. They will soon be offering a proofreading and editing service (of which I am one of the editors) that you might be interested in.
        Kind Regards,

      • Hi Beth,

        You’re a sweetheart for offering. I will definitely shout when I decide what I have to do next. I am not giving up on the novel, but I do know that I need a break from it for now. Just to gain some perspective. Thanks 🙂

      • Hi Spooky,

        No, I am not familiar with that site. I will definitely check it out. I have been down that road before with a similar site, but then I found my wonderful writing group and I liked the in-person critiques. However, I am open to all paths that will help me fix what’s broken.

        Thanks for sharing the info.

      • I’d be happy to have a read too – again, like Beth, not a professional set of eyes, but lots of reading experience and an analytical mind. x

      • Thank you both Sally and Beth for offering to read. It’s nice to know I have some options with all of this. Hmm. Maybe I should start taking bids?! lol. Seriously, I appreciate the outreach. It really turns things around for me. 🙂

  12. Hi Kate…so sorry to hear about your disappointing news. But hang in there and never give up! I don’t usually mention one of my own posts in a comment but can’t help myself this time–I recently posted a piece “Seven Tips For Dealing With Rejection Slips” that you may find interesting to read.

    I’ll be anxious to hear when you find a good home for your novel…keep us posted!

    Editor’s Note – I’m fine with the link being put on here as it may be helpful for others – http://sylviamorice.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/seven-tips-for-dealing-with-rejection-slips/


    • Wow, thanks Sylvia. I appreciate the link. I’m glad there are only 7 and not 17! lol

      Thanks for your confidence, too. I’ll be sure to be screaming it out at the top of my lungs so loud you might not need a blog post!

  13. You need to kick the person who said you should give up square in the arse. And, as my father would say, make sure you wear your pointy toed boots! Who knows, it might help them shake out of their fit of the blues so they can see that giving up on some dreams isn’t an option. <> Disappointment is hard enough — being a writer, admitting it and embracing it, is hard enough. Surround yourself with people who support you and your dreams even if, to them, they seem unattainable. Not everyone will understand our dreams but as long as they support them, it’s okay. I train and trial working stock dogs. My brothers & sisters never really paid attention to that. My oldest brother came out to the farm when we were having a trial and spent the day watching. He said to me later, “I don’t get this stuff you do with the dogs, I don’t understand it or why you put so much time into it, and I never will. But I guess it’s pretty cool.”

    Anyhow, stick with it. You made it further than a lot of people ever will! 🙂 But I agree, would be nice if you would have gotten a bit more feedback. I suppose it’s against literary agent protocol to ask them???

    • Hi Kathils,

      Yes, a good kick is in order and I love your father’s advice! Having family/friend support should be without question, and it’s amazing when they’re the ones who can be the cruelest. I’m glad to know that your oldest brother finally figured out what he needed to do to reconnect with you. It isn’t about understanding the dream, it’s about supporting it. Some people just don’t get that.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  14. Kate, I’m so sorry this happened, but take heart in the lovely compliment and send it out to the next on your list. Don’t listen the dream killer…they probably don’t have a dream and are bitter from admiring yours.

    An agent asked to look at your whole manuscript. That is amazing.

    • Hi subtlekate,

      From one kate to another kate, thank you so much 🙂 You’re spot on, the dream killer (luv that btw) has no dream left and they are very bitter about it. It’s a horrible thing to turn into.

      Yes, thank you. I focus on the good points and trudge on from there.

  15. I’m so sorry for that rejection! Now gather up your strength and do it all over again…on to the next agent or publishing house…you have perseverance!!!
    You can do it! Look at the upside: You have beautiful prose. You are a writer and all writers must get rejected it is the path to success. No?
    Thanks for sharing. My fingers are still crossed. I’m waiting for that rejection letter or redemption letter…

    • Hi Chrissy,

      Thanks for your encouragement. It’s a bear of a journey, but I can’t imagine giving it up after everything I have invested into it so far. That would be a crying shame.

      Yes, rejections are par for the course and I was prepared for this possibility. The more I get, the easier they are to handle, lol.

      And I’ll cross my fingers for you as you wait for your news!

  16. Oh I’m absolutely gutted. It’s very frustrating that they haven’t given more feedback on exactly what wasn’t working for them, although it could be something as simple as they’re currently pushing an author writing in a similar area, which is why further comment on the reasons for the rejection isn’t possible for them. I reached the full submission stage a few years ago and got back some very brief but tangible feedback that she felt it was more for a YA audience (it was targeted at adults – I haven’t re-written it as it’s too slow but I’ve played around with the genre a bit since then, although I’m still trying to find my natural voice). I do think they would elaborate if there was a fundamental issue with the novel rather than an internal reason why it’s not right for them.

    The fact they’re encouraging you to send new work shows the important aspects are there with the quality of your writing, which we’ve all seen on here and on your blog. I’m sure they have more than one rejection response that they use and wouldn’t make casual use of the word, ‘beautiful’.

    Hmm, now what delightful English terms could I introduce to you for the person who made that ridiculous comment…I rather like one that begins with t and ends with face (Beth will know what I mean, but I’ll end there as it’s particularly offensive!) The fact that you’ve got to a full submission says that you certainly should be pushing on with this. If this is the kind of person that feels you should give up at the first rejection they clearly have no concept of either the writing industry, or who you really are, as your determination, talent and love for writing is obvious to anyone who’s ever read your posts. So no sympathy or good luck wishes from me as I know you don’t need them! x

    • Hi Sally,

      See, that’s really helpful advice–that you might have to re-target your audience. Something like that would send me over the moon because it gives me a direction. Even if it’s not what you want to do with it, at least you know why your book isn’t a good match with that particular agent. You either change it according to that suggestion, or you decide agent is wrong and you query on.

      That, to me, would be a gold mine of helpful info.

      Ooh, another bad English word? This has been one educational day. 🙂

      Thanks for your encouragement and your lovely compliments. I’m blushing.

  17. This is just one person’s opinion. Sure, the agent found something that didn’t fit him/her with your manuscript, but that doesn’t mean it’s severely lacking. What if this agent gave you pointers that made you rewrite the whole thing in a way that didn’t really fit you?

    Could you send your manuscript out to two/three trusted writing friends and get their opinion on it?

    As for the person who said you should give up on your dream: slap that face!
    Whenever I feel like giving up, I give myself two tasks: 1. I think of why I want to write. Why it’s my dream and what I’m willing to do to get there. 2. Then I read something from the most horrible published writer I know, just so I can think: “they published this garbage? No way they won’t publish me too!”

    • Hi nascent,

      It’s true, suppose the suggestions wouldn’t have fit with how I envisioned the novel? I guess then I’d know that it’s definitely a matter of poor match between agent and book and I wouldn’t fret too much over it. However, I’m left hanging and now must really make some decisions based on …what? Still don’t know for sure.

      I like how you get yourself to keep going. Especially the second one. Reading garbage helps me realize I’m a lot better at this than I give myself credit for.


  18. Lack of feedback is par for the course if my own experience is anything to go by. But reading between the lines this Agency have given you the most important information you could have hoped for:-

    “Your language and prose are beautiful…We encourage you to submit future projects”

    In other words a Professional Agency thinks you write well, and certainly to a publishable standard. So ignore those who don’t know what they are talking about. It’s just that this particular Agency doesn’t think they can sell this particular book at this particular time to the particular publishers they normally deal with.

    I lost count of the rejections I had from publishers and agents. The worst was something to the effect of “This might be difficult to place and quite frankly I don’t love it enough to bother.” I even signed two publishing deals which foundered at the last minute.

    But my book is now out there – and two days ago I saw it in the shop window of a bookseller. So don’t lose heart. You know you can write, and that’s the biggest hurdle.

    • Hi unpub,

      Thank you for the encouragement. I must focus on the good points because those are huge battles won. And yes, that’s true too, it could be that the story itself isn’t marketable with this particular agency.

      Oh, I wouldn’t like getting that kind of a rejection. How dismal and cruel, really. Why do people forget that there are feelings/emotions involved in this? If we didn’t think we had something of worth, we wouldn’t be trying to submit. No matter how rough the draft might be, there is no call to be rude.

      Wow, congrats on your book. And in the window of a bookseller to boot! That must be an amazing feeling. So, wait, does this mean ‘unpub’ should be changed to ‘pub’? 😉

      Thanks for commenting.

  19. Family (especially) and friends can be hard on you even after you get published. I’m sure you know which ones are likely to rain on your parade when (not IF) you get an agent and get published. Relegate their opinions to your shoulder and brush them off like so much dandruff. You write very well!

    • Hi Lynnette,

      Ha, yes, I am quickly learning who NOT to go to if it concerns my writing. Dandruff! That’s great. Gotta remember that one. Thank you for your kind words.

  20. Keep writing!!! Given I don’t know you or your family, but usually when someone responds like that it is because they have given up on their dream for whatever reason and taking it out on you. You have gotten a lot farther than a lot of writers so don’t give up.

    • Hi Janet,

      Yes, you have guessed right. “Dream Killer” (subtlekate, in an above comment, came up with that one) doesn’t have any dreams left, gave up because it got too hard.

      I have gotten very far, and for that reason giving up is unthinkable What’s the point in that? Just so I can be miserable and regretful that I didn’t do what I was meant to do? No way.

      Thank you for your encouragement.

  21. Sorry to hear that you got turned down with your manuscript, Kate. I swear to God, it drove me crazy when I got coments Like that.

    But there is no doubt kin my mind that you have the talent. So, yes, Keep writing. You know that all of us in the group are pulling for you.

    • Hi Tony,

      Thanks for stopping by. Miss you btw! Yes, it’s been rejected and I’m really okay with that aspect of it. I had hoped for an explanation, and not getting one is really what threw me the most.

      Thanks for your kind words. I will keep writing, and I appreciate the cheerleading!

  22. Kate, I was ready to cry in outrage when I began reading your post, but by the end of it I was cheering and I’m pretty sure the theme song “We are the Champions” was playing.

    You might consider yourself in highly esteemed company; Dr. Seuss was rejected by many publishers before he became known as one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors.

    Stephen King’s first novel “Carrie” was rejected 30 times by publishers he sent it to. If his wife Tabitha hadn’t fished it out of the trash and sent it out herself we might not even know who he is. How is that for familial support?

    Have you ever heard of Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen? They say that publishers they sent their anthologies to said, “anthologies don’t sell” and that Chicken Soup for the Soul was, “too positive”. 140 rejections from publishers. Maybe they should have called their books “Perseverance for the Soul,” but I digress.

    I know you can see my point, and I know it’s hard to lift your head when you are battered and bruised, but my dear you are a gifted writer. You are, we all know it.

    I say send a letter back asking for clarification, include a SASE if need be, to encourage them to quickly reply. Your words are worth it. Sorry to go on so long.

    • Hiya Neeks,

      Haha. That’s great. Love the idea of a theme song. Now it’s in my head…

      It is helpful to know that rejections happen to the best of us. It reminds me that I believe in my novel and am willing to do what it takes to get it published.

      Yes, I think I will see if they will give me a clearer explanation…and go from there.

      Thanks for your encouragement and kind words!

  23. Way to keep on pressin on! I love your determination! It is good for those who just want to give up after something like that. Keep. It. Up!

    • Hi mizzblonde,

      Well, yes, determination has become my middle name in the past few years! Oh, yeah, well, that was one of the reasons I posted this too. To show that rejection doesn’t have to be the end of your journey if you don’t want it to be.

      Haha. Yes. I. Will. Keep. It. Up.

      Thanks for your support!

  24. Oh Kate I really feel for you. I had a full rejected and there were no personal comments at all. It can be so deflating but I’m really pleased to see you’re still writing. It’s the only way. And I can’t believe what that person said to you, you don’t need that in your life! If you can dream it, you can do it. Never give up!

    • Hi Victoria,

      Ahh, so you’ve been there. It is baffling, isn’t it? Are you still querying that manuscript?

      Thank you for your support. I will still write and fight for my story. Otherwise, I think I would be very disappointed in myself.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. And if you are still querying, then I wish you lots of good luck!

  25. I really think this is a point of intolerable rudeness—born of arrogance, I might add—all too prevalent in the publishing industry. Naturally, agents can’t be expected to do more than send a form rejection letter to a query, even perhaps after reading sample chapters. But the least they can do after requesting the Complete—not an inexpensive matter to print and send off—is provide a detailed rationale for their rejection. At this point in the submission process, a form rejection slip—and that is all you received—is simply inexcusable, especially in view of all the demands they impose on the writer during the submission process. I’ve found myself in a similar position, have been treated with the same disregard, and my heart goes out to you.

    • Hi Raymond,

      You put it so well. A lot is asked of the writer, and this in no way means the agent isn’t under the gun. But here is a chance to improve the, let’s face it, struggling reputation of literary agencies, and the opportunity was missed. People wonder why writers are bypassing this stage and just doing the e-publishing route, and it’s moments like this. Not that I’m exactly heading out the door to go self-publish, because I’m willing to accept the possibility that I screwed up the story in some way, and self-publishing a mediocre story isn’t going to make me feel better, nor solve the problem (hello, long sentence!)

      But if I had some idea of where I went wrong, I would be ripping apart the problem area and rewriting. But that’s also because I believe in this story.

      I’m sorry to hear that a similar rejection happened to you. I hope that you have pushed through it and that you. are. still. writing. 🙂

  26. Well for yours truly who is currently having a love-hate relationship with his own paltry effort to write a novel, Kate’s post is very scary. So all I can say to all of you who have completed a manuscript, I take my hat off to you. Writing the book seems to be the most magnificent of achievements. Having it rejected by an agent is a place I can’t go to so will remain applauding those who just complete a book! Paul

    • Hey Paul,

      I’ve seen your writing, and you shouldn’t let something like this scare you off.

      At the very least, write the book you want to write. Whether or not you try to submit it to an agent is a question you can ask yourself later. But writing, first and foremost, should be enjoyable, pleasurable, and ALL FOR YOU.

      Write it, give yourself the chance to finish it, and enjoy what it feels like to complete a novel. It’s a stupendous achievement, an amazing feeling, even if it never gets published. Trust me 🙂

  27. Yeah. This is all too familiar. The manuscript request happened to me twice last year and I’ve lost count how many times before. The person who tells you to abandon your dream could easily be categorized as someone who already abandoned theirs and is galled by you sticking with yours. Keep sticking it to them. Overwhelm them with words. I have more than 400 rejection letters over 17 years from an appalling amount of manuscripts. It pains me even to admit that. But I’m not giving up. You shouldn’t either.

    • Hi Bill,
      I’m sorry to hear that you have been going through the same disappointment. Yup, “dream killer” is miserable without dreams and likes to trod upon others’ dreams.

      Goodness, you are very dedicated and determined! That is a lot of work that you have put into your dream. I hope that something wonderful comes your way soon, you certainly deserve it. I’m glad to know you’re not giving up. You’re an incredible fighter.

  28. Keep writing, Katie. I’m in a similar place right now. It’s discouraging, defeating and deafening to hear those words of rejection when writing is something so personal. But keep on writing as you say! Turn that anger and frustration into art. I look forward to hearing more about your literary journey in the future.

    • Hey Todd,

      So, you’re querying right now? It’s a big job, isn’t it. I will keep plowing on and learning as I go. Some other commenters have given some extra thoughts about changing tactics. So, I’ll be looking at other possible routes to figure out where I might have gone wrong with the ms.

      Good luck to you in your literary journey as well!

  29. Please, please, please do not listen to the naysayers! Do not give up your dream unless you feel it is time to do so. If I had listened to all the well meaning people in my life, I would still be lingering in a ho-hum marriage, working in a career I was burned out in, and not living in the perfect city and living out so many of my dreams, one of which was writing. Hang in there and tell those people, “thank you for your concern, but I am doing just fine!”

    • Hi Words,

      Ain’t that the truth! Sometimes we just know what is best for ourselves, and we have to ignore what others might think or suggest. I will hang in there and write away. And good for you for doing what you love to do, no matter what.

      Thanks for your support!

  30. I agree with above comments. Writing should be for you and not others. Therefore, even through rejection, though it sucks…I give you kudos for getting back up on the horse. After all, success isn’t measured by how many failures we’ve had, but by how many times we’ve gotten back up after falling. As the saying goes, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

    • Hi Amelia,

      Thanks for your encouragement. I think you are right about success, and the minute we stop getting up then we surely have failed.

      Yes. I will keep calm and carry on. 🙂

  31. As others have said, this rejection is one person’s opinion and they have said positive things about your writing.

    It is disappointing that you don’t get more feedback. Like you say, if they want to read the whole novel you would think that they would explain their views more. Keep the faith and keep submitting.

  32. Kate, please keep writing. Ignore that person in your life. What they did was so out of bounds. But they don’t get it. They don’t write. And clearly they failed at a dream and assume everyone else will.

    It is horrible when those closest to us are unsupportive. I’ve had many people tell me to give up on several of my dreams in life. But I went on to achieve them in spite of them. So keep at it!

    Rejections stink. I’ve gotten dozens. But I keep finding new readers, attending workshops and revising. It really really stinks when a full request ends in rejection without feedback. Even a line saying I didn’t connect with the voice or the writing isn’t there yet. Something you can work on.

    Kate, I am very proud of you. Go eat some ice cream and wallow a bit. You’re allowed. Then send out a new query. 🙂

    • Hi Kourtney,

      Thanks for the encouragement. That’s really the only way to get through it, is to remind myself that they’re unhappy in their own life and this is how they feel better–by stomping on other people.

      It is hard to get back and do it all over again, but because I believe in my novel I know that I will keep at it. I wish there had been a small sentence letting me know what direction to take. Even if its something I disagree with. That would help a lot.

      Thanks, Kourtney. Your support means the world to me. 🙂

      • Kate, it’s wonderful to not be in this alone. To have writing friends who get it. The sting of rejection, the self doubt, the almost getting an agent. It’s so hard to explain this world to anyone who doesn’t live in it.

        I’ve had agents read the full and say I just didn’t fall in love with it. So that may be the case. There may be nothing wrong or they have a similar book they just took on at the agency. Sometimes it’s not your writing. Sometimes it’s luck and timing.

        Keep querying. If you get a ton of not for me, then maybe go back over the manuscript and look at it again.

      • Kourtney, it’s so true. Non-writers really don’t understand what goes into writing. And it doesn’t even have to be a book, writing in general can be all-consuming. I think it’s tough to be on the outside of that, especially when you’re really close to a writer.

        I will keep at it. I believe in the story, and I will look it over again to see if I faltered anywhere. But the story needs to be told. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

  33. da Vinci once said that art is never finished, only abandoned. I am sure your novel is fine, but revise if you think it needs it; then perhaps get qualified people to read it. I agree with the other comments about retargeting. I just met a great agent, but she doesn’t really handle what I like to write. Keep sending your query letters. You will find the “right” one.

    And to answer your question – I played classical (clarinet) at the start, then went to the dark side and played sax in a variety of contemporary bands while in the US Marine Corps’ music program. Now I just enjoy listening. My latest find is a US/UK folk singer named Zoe Mulford. Simple yet awesome. If I could only write like she sings.

    • Hi D.J.,

      Wow, I love the da Vinci quote. I will have to jot that one down on the wall of my study with other inspirational quotes.

      Clarinet would be a wonderful instrument to learn. I used to play piano from the ages of 4-8, but I got bored with lessons. I preferred writing stories about animals and adventures in spaceships instead. I regret it now, especially because I have two children and I see how important knowing how to play music is. I have been trying to get them interested, but they’re like me. Easily bored with repetition and would much rather write or draw.

      The “dark side” lol That is funny. But I totally know what you mean. I think in some circles, writing about vampires and other supernatural beings is considered the “dark side” because it’s so trendy now and it’s hard to find awesome writing in conjunction with that kind of a story.

      I don’t know Zoe Mulford. I like learning about new music, so I will have to check her out.

  34. Kate, I know it’s already been said in several different ways, but you absolutely need to know whether ‘the manuscript isn’t a good fit for us at this time’ literally means that it is not exactly the type of work they want to publish at this time, or whether it is a kind way of them saying that they consider there to be something wrong with the way it is written. If it is the first point, and they didn’t consider there was anything wrong with the manuscript itself, then maybe they felt no further explanation was needed. But you do need to know, rather than spending a lot of time trying to rewrite something that may not need rewriting at all. I don’t see how they could refuse to at least clarify that for you even if they don’t give more detailed feedback.

    • Hi Vanessa,

      You’re right. I need to see if they will give me further feedback. Hopefully an email requesting a reply won’t take 3-4 months like a query! 🙂

      Thanks for extra push.

  35. Most of us writers have received yucky rejection letters like that. Life spirals into depression for a week or so while you try to stop consuming over it (at least that’s how I am). I’m going to self-publish mine (because after listening to lots of authors and realizing the publishing companies still want me to self-promote and yet they’ll still take most of my cut, I’m writing them out of my life. Good riddance.

    • Hi Char,

      Yes, rejection letters like that are so common! And it is difficult to not let it get you down in some way. But very important to get back in the game if this is what you want to do with your life.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  36. I felt those comments in my gut. I am thrilled to hear you say that you are still writing. PLEASE keep going – that was amazing feedback from that agent (although I agree they could have been a little more specific!), and I once had a similar situation when I was very, very young, and was disheartened enough not to resubmit. As a matter of fact, I sort of let writing go, and didn’t pick it up again for many years until I couldn’t stand NOT writing anymore. I have since been published in small journals and magazines, but even better, I signed my first publishing contract in Novemeber, and have also made some extra cash from my self-publishing.
    It is your life – not theirs. Make it your dream.

    • Hey Wren,

      Thank goodness there was a silver lining in the rejection. It helps offset the negativity on the homefront.

      I can relate to giving up writing due to a bad experience, because I’d done that a long time ago also. And like you, I couldn’t stay away from it any longer. That was when I stuck with it, leaping over many obstacles along the way.

      Congrats on your first publishing contract. That is amazing! I’m sure you are over the moon about it.

      Thanks for chiming in!

  37. So sorry to hear about your family’s reaction. Hope those wounds heal soon.

    • Hi Darla,

      Thank you for your kindness. It will be a tough road, but I am so blessed to have the outlets here in Blogosphere. That helps a lot.

  38. I really admire your courage and tenacity despite your knockdowns! It’s so disheartening to read that people closest to you reacted this way but you sound like you dealt with it maturely.

    • Thanks Charlotte,

      Well, I hope I handled it maturely…I don’t remember exactly what I said or did at the time. All I know is this post was my big reaction. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  39. I’m so glad you’re going to keep writing. To have an agent request a full manuscript and an exclusive read is huge. It sucks that they didn’t give you more feedback. But you are so close, you can’t give up (but I know you know that). I’m so sorry about your family member’s reaction. Keep fighting. When your book is published, give them a copy and tell them to eat their words or yours (literally). Okay that was cheesy, sorry, but I can’t help it. Sending a big virtual hug.

    • Hi buddhaful,

      Haha. I love cheese! 🙂 I will keep writing, I know this more and more every day. And I look forward to the day that my book is published and undo all the negativity for good!

      Thanks for your encouragement!

  40. In the bazillion comments, on this post, I’m sure someobe already said this: that family member is JEALOUS. You are chasing your dream and they AREN’T (probably :P). You are amazing Kate. Always believe that. I am so glad you didn’t listen to them.

    • Thanks Ottabelle,

      It’s hard to imagine the jealousy, but more and more I think about that the idea makes sense. You’re right, they aren’t chasing their dream anymore. Gave up after the first couple of blows and settled for something less. Now they’re miserable and unfulfilled. If anything, I feel more pity than anger towards them.

      Thanks for your kind words, Ottie!

  41. Keep on keeping on. I had a full manuscript read by an agency last year on an exclusive but it failed to make the cut. However, I did get good feedback and have since completed the rewrites and it is better for it. I am now about to send it back out and I’m nervous and reading what you blogged has just made me more so 🙂 However, I’m still going to go for it because that’s what writers do in between writing 🙂 Good luck.

    • Hi GJ,

      Oh no, I don’t want to make you more nervous! 🙂 But I guess it would be impossible not to be nervous in this game.

      You are fortunate to have received feedback that helped you make the necessary changes. That’s no small thing, and I long for that opportunity. Kudos to you, also, for being open and willing to make the changes, assuming you thought them through and agreed with the suggestions. I think it can be easy to shrug off advice, especially after the ms has been through hundreds of revisions. The idea of rewriting again can be a downer.

      But, I do think that when we believe in our work then we will do what it takes to make it the best it can be. I hope you will keep us informed on how it goes! Good luck and thanks for commenting.

  42. I’m glad you’re not giving up! Keep going and pay no attention to what the family member said. I can only imagine how hard it would be to get a rejection on a full manuscript. So far I’ve only sent out things for magazines. I would love to be in your shoes though and have an agent request to read my full manuscript. That in itself is an accomplishment (at least it would be for me :)) Just remember, there are lots of authors out there that took sending their manuscript out multiple times (and I mean multiple) before they sold. Even ones that became best sellers. That’s just the nature of writing. Good luck!

    • Hi exhausted,

      Now that the initial shock and disappointment has worn off I am more determined than ever to succeed in this pursuit. Giving up, my arse! 🙂 It is a great privilege to have a full ms requested when you consider the hundreds of manuscripts out there, and I take heart with the compliments they gave.

      Yes, I will just get back on that proverbial horse and try, try again! Thanks for your encouragement!

  43. Perhaps the reason is not related to your writing. It is possible that “not a good fit” means “this isn’t what is fashionable these days” or “we want the next big thing to be werewolves.”

    You are a good writer, anybody who says you can’t do it needs to have their words replaced with elevator music.

    • Hi Shannon,

      That’s something to consider, the werewolves. No such thing in this ms, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what agents are looking for. Ah well.

      haha–that’s great. Elevator music! Now that would really tick someone off.

      Thanks for commenting.

  44. Kate, should you feel discouraged, there’s a great quote at the top of this (Freshly Pressed) post I saw.


    • So cool–I spied that post on the freshly pressed page. I will check it out…sounds like it’s right up my alley!

  45. How did I not see this when you posted it? I would’ve been offering my support and encouragement on the 29th! Absolutely the best thing to take from that response is the compliment on your language and prose. I’m glad to hear you’re not rushing into changing anything. There may not be any need to. A fresh eye doesn’t hurt, but I wish some agents would realize the impact that their response (or lack thereof) can have on a writer.

    • Hi JM,

      Aww, thanks, you were around in spirit lol! Yes, I focus on the positives, not the words my family member lashed out at me, and keep trying.

      It is unfortunate in the grand scheme of things that some/most agents don’t take that extra five minutes to help out a writer, especially if there was something promising in the ms.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  46. Reblogged this on buddhafulkat and commented:
    My days are built around art and writing.

    When people ask what it is I do and I tell them I’m focusing on art and writing, they look at me skeptically. Then they often ask questions to assess how good I am. I don’t know how to respond because the answer is that I don’t think I’m good, keyword yet, and I don’t think it actually matters right now. Until recently I’ve been able to block out fear and just focus on improving, sketch by sketch, line by line.

    I can handle criticism and lack of support from strangers, well or not so well intentioned friends, people I barely know, even family members. However, I need the full support of the person nearest and dearest to me and last week when I realized that I didn’t have it, I was devastated. We’ve hashed it out and now we are both committed to supporting each other more fully, but while my defenses were down, fear crept in. I started to question what I was doing and began losing faith in both faith and discipline.

    However, in the back of my mind was this inspiring post by Kate at Limebird Writers. Despite rejection and lack of support from a close family member, she is still writing.

    I will keep going too.

    • We’re all rooting for you, too, buddhaful. Very poignant post. Thanks for the reblog, and I’m on my way over to your site…


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