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Here’s What We Don’t Want

August 24, 2021– We’ve listed what publishers want, but how about what they don’t want? It’s essential to have clarity, and we can’t have clarity without knowing the opposite. We only know what sadness is when we’ve experienced happiness, and we only know what health is when we’ve experienced sickness; the same goes for publishing; we need to focus on what publishers don’t want just as much as what they want to get the complete picture.

While many things will entice a publisher, let’s focus on query letters specifically and what publishers don’t want.

Do not put this in your query letter:

  1. Love. We don’t want to hear that your friends and family love your book, that your nieces and nephews loved it, or that your neighbours’ goddaughter’s dog thought it was terrific. Let us be the judge because it’s our job to be objective, and we know what the market demands. Your friends and family love you…we don’t. Publishing is a business, and the bottom line is if your book is saleable or not. We don’t publish books to lose money.
  2. Rejection. When querying a publisher, don’t put in how many times you’ve been rejected. This doesn’t make us feel sorry for you and is irrelevant. Plus, you might make us second guess ourselves if you’ve been rejected a million times and we want to publish your book after everyone else has passed on it. Rejection is a part of life, and a huge part of publishing, so get used to it and move on.
  3. Fame. I really hate this one, and I’m not even sure hate is a strong enough word. Despise, detest, loathe? Do NOT put in your query letter that you’re the next NY Times bestseller or insert famous author name here. It makes you sound like an arrogant, out-of-touch, idiot and I guarantee that the publisher will throw your query letter in the virtual trash. You may think that you’re the next James Patterson but never say it. A lion never has to tell us it’s a lion. Get what I mean? We’re the ones who decide whether your manuscript will see the light of day, so don’t anger us right off the bat with a ridiculous query that makes grand claims, ESPECIALLY if you can’t back it up. I’ll get queries like this now and then, and I purposely ask for the manuscript in full to see if the author is reaching. 99.9 percent of the time, they are, and that 0.1% that does make it never puts how amazing they are in their query letter.

We’re wrapping up what publishers want (and don’t want) over the next week, so stay tuned for more tips!

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Don’t Fear the Reaper…I mean rejection

June 9, 2021– I hope you love this month’s theme, which is author mindset! Let’s dig into a topic today that is the bane of many authors’ existence-rejection and the fear of it.

Rejection is part of life, and the sooner we accept that as authors, the better. Every rejection gets us one step closer to getting a YES! Think of some of the greatest people in history; they were rejected time and again but refused to give up, and most importantly, their mindset remained positive.

Fearing rejection is like waiting for the axe to fall; it gives us a deep sense of dread in the pit of our stomachs and paralyzes us instead of pushing us forward despite it. Things like fears of people not liking our work, or worse, ridiculing it, the fear of being “found out” (see my blog post on imposter syndrome), fear of being vulnerable in that once the words are on the page, they can never be taken back, and the fear of being not good enough.

Rejection is an opportunity! Look at Tom Edison and his perseverance in the face of MASSIVE rejection.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”-(uky.edu) Wow! If we authors could only have that outlook, our writing lives would change completely!

Some of the most famous and prolific authors were rejected hundreds of times collectively-Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, Louisa May Alcott, Dr. Seuss, James Patterson, and John Grisham. And they persisted. I don’t know about you, but when I look at the list above, it looks like every single author who made it big got rejected tons of times. That’s good news for the rest of us!

What happens when you embrace rejection? Lots of wonderful things:

  1. You become untouchable. When you embrace rejection, a cool thing happens-you’re not emotionally affected by people’s opinions, words, or made-up situations in your mind. You’re free! The value that you place on yourself and your work is higher than what anyone else may think of you, and that is where your power lies!
  2. You get closer. When you embrace rejection, you get one step closer to your goal. Remember the Edison example? Here’s another one-Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 144 times; what if they had given up after 143 times? The point is every time you hear NO as an author, it helps you get to the 1 YES that you need faster. Get the no’s out of the way before you hear the YES!
  3. You grow. As a publisher, I have a rule. I never reject an author’s work without telling them why. I figure that they’re brave enough to send in their work and ask me to look at it that the least I can do is give them more than a form rejection letter. When I first started writing, I had enough rejection slips to wallpaper the side of my house! But I revelled in the advice written on a few of them and took that advice to grow my skills as a writer and be better every day.

I urge you to look at rejection through a different lens; it’s just part of the process, it’s not personal, and what is supposed to be yours is waiting for you on the other side of fear and rejection!

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We Will…We Will…Reject You

January 31, 2019– Listen up fellow writers, what I’m about to tell you is absolutely imperative to set you on the path of successfully getting published, not only with my company but also, with other potential agents/publishers. Here’s the thing, writing is hard work, and we receive approximately 175 submissions give or take per month, so narrowing down the field of manuscripts is essential. Here is what will cause your work to be automatically rejected.

  1. You didn’t follow the submission guidelines.  When a potential author doesn’t follow the submission guidelines that are posted on every publisher’s site, you give us the clear indication that you cannot follow instructions. If you can’t follow directions, how are we going to work together longterm? Easy answer-we can’t. Here’s a link to our submission guidelines: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/about/
  2. You sent your entire manuscript in an attachment. I don’t open attachments. Ever. Next.
  3. Your query letter/synopsis didn’t grab me.  If you don’t know how to query a publisher, I suggest that you find information online that is accurate and trustworthy. Also, your synopsis is something that is your HOOK! It is exciting and makes me want to read more of your manuscript. It’s like a movie trailer for an upcoming attraction.  For expert help, you can click on this link to our products page to find out how to write the perfect query: https://pandamoniumpublishing.com/product/mini-course-crafting-the-perfect-query/
  4. Your opening pages were boring. The first few pages in your writing must be attention-getting not only for me but for your readers! If the opening of your story is dull, if it starts with a cliche (it was a dark and stormy night), or if it starts out as a dream, your chances of getting a publishing deal have pretty much vanished. Understand that yes, introductions to stories can be fixed, but you only have one chance to make a first impression. If I read your first five pages and I do not love it, what’s going to make me think that the rest of the book is any better? Start where the action is; the rest can be explained later and sprinkled throughout your story.
  5. You weren’t patient. You decided to call my bluff (or not) and say that another publisher was interested in your work, and you tried to rush me into making a decision. You needed an answer in two days or by five o’clock, or before Cinderella’s carriage turned back into a pumpkin, these things take time, and when I’m pushed to decide in a rush, my answer will always be no. Please understand that it takes between 4-6 weeks for me to review your work, sometimes longer based on how many submissions I have. Your patience is appreciated, and I will always respond, either way, so you know where you stand with your submission.

So, those are five ways to get rejected. We hope you’ll follow our advice, X LLB

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Get Punched.

January 22, 2020– I read a quote recently that said, “Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.” (-David Barr Kirtley)

More real words have never been spoken. Of course, being rejected sucks, it hurts, and it makes us question our capabilities and sometimes even our sanity. But, I’m here to tell you to embrace the suck. I’m here to say, stick out your chin and get punched as many times as possible. Because the only way that you’re going to get a YES is by taking all of the NO’s that come before it and using them to your advantage. When we fail, we become better. We can see where we went wrong, and we can tweak things to improve our writing. No one is born as a fantastic writer. Nope, not even Shakespeare, King, or Hemingway. They’ve all seen their fair share of rejection, and if you don’t believe me, Google it.

As writers, we MUST write because it’s who we are, and we can’t imagine doing anything else with our lives. That’s why I’m telling you to get punched. Get punched and get punched hard, because it’s part of the process in making you a better writer, in causing you to wake up and change your strategy, and it will give you a much sweeter victory than it would if you’d never been punched in the first place.

Being rejected is part of the gig. You want to be a writer? You’re going to be rejected… a lot. But who cares? You’re in great company. The point is, you have to keep going. I personally have enough rejection letters that I could wallpaper the side of my house. And I keep them in a special box that I go through when I need motivation. I look at the comments that say, “Consider a different career,” “Too out of the box, not saleable,” “Go back to school and learn proper grammar,” and my favourite, “Your writing is unoriginal, and frankly, boring.”

So what did I do when I received these comments? I read them, thought about them for a few days, changed a few things in my storytelling approach, hired a professional editor, and then KEPT WRITING. There’s a big difference between arrogance and self-belief. Arrogance says that everyone is an idiot except for you and that anyone who criticizes you is a dumbass. Self-belief is when you take constructive criticism to improve yourself because you KNOW that you can do whatever you want to with enough hard work and practice. Do you think that the first time that Wayne Gretzky picked up a hockey stick, he was perfection? Don’t answer that, what a terrible example…You get my point.

So dear friends, today, I hope that you get punched. X LLB

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Why My Opinion Doesn’t Matter…

October 18, 2019– Recently, I received an email from someone who submitted their work to me for consideration. There was one line in the email that hit me, “I’ll take your opinion to heart.”

I’m here to tell you NOT to take my opinion to heart when it comes to your writing. Why? Because it’s my opinion and not absolute, undisputed fact. Let’s face it, I have to send out a ton of rejection letters each month and it’s up there with being one of the worst parts of my job, but that’s the nature of the business. I find that sometimes, aspiring writers tend to get so discouraged when they get a rejection letter from a publisher that they stop writing altogether and that’s the worst thing that can happen. Yes, it’s difficult to accept that people don’t appreciate your work the way that you do, but art is subjective and writing is art. There are a hundred of reasons why your work may have been rejected and sometimes it just comes down to the House being full with upcoming projects.

Never stop writing, write the story that you want to read, and take all criticism with a grain of salt. Now, I’m not talking about being arrogant and saying that the professionals in the business have no idea what they’re saying and that you’re the greatest writer of our time and that we’re all idiots and that you’re the next Poe…(that’s a true example by the way) I’m talking about taking the criticism and doing something with it to improve your writing. A lot of times publishers don’t offer critiques and they just don’t respond at all, in that case, try and get an opinion on your story from a third party, not someone who is related to you or thinks you hung the moon. Get a beta reader group, ask an editor, or find someone that doesn’t like you, (I’m serious, they’ll tell you the truth) and have them read your manuscript and offer feedback.

Never give up. Continue to improve your craft and I promise that the magic will happen. The universe is in love with stubborn hearts.

X LLB

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Publisher’s Corner…

May 17, 2019– Today on Publisher’s Corner, I’ll answer a question that everyone wants to know!

Q: “Lacey, is it hard being an author?”

A: Yes. Done. Thanks and see you next week. Ok, but seriously, yes-it’s extremely difficult to not only become an author but to stay an author. Let me explain the rollercoaster:

  1. Beginning: You’ll be rejected more times that you can count. You will think you’re a no-talent hack and that’s on the good days. You’ll cry yourself to sleep and then wake up the next morning and do it all over again. You’ll suffer from insomnia and find yourself asking, WHAT THE F*CK at least once a day when your characters refuse to speak to you.
  2. Middle: You’ll finally get a book deal and be on top of the world! You’ll feel like you’ve made it, but now the work truly begins. You worry about the next book and what if the publisher hates it, what if you’re a one-hit wonder, what if people hate your book? You’ll feel totally vulnerable and second guess every single word you write. The waiting is the worst part as it usually takes 2-5 years for a book to be released to the public. You’ll want to throw in the towel but don’t!  You still have to fight with your editor and publisher when they recommend taking out the best part of your story.
  3. End: Your book comes out and now your work has increased four hundredfold. You have to market the book, (yes, even if you’re traditionally published), sell the book, talk to people about the book, set up your displays, network, make contacts, do book signings, lug your crap from place to place and sweat your ass off while doing it in 5 inch stilettos.  You’ll have people tell you to your face that they don’t like your work or even better, that they don’t like you. Some days you’ll go home with your tail between your legs because you didn’t sell a single copy of your book even though you tried with all of your might.

But listen, it’s not all bad. Being an author has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And the icing on the cake? Reading my nephews and niece the books that I WROTE and dedicated to them. You’ll make friends with amazing people and those friendships last for life. You’ll have fabulous opportunities around the world to talk about your books and visit international book fairs in various countries. You’ll be asked to be a guest speaker at major events and you’ll get to read your book to kids in schools all over the city and the country. People will find your books on the shelf at major stores and around the world. Your books make a difference and one day, someone will tell you that YOU are their favourite author. The GOOD outweighs whatever bad there is. The world needs your art so go out there and create something that outlives you. X LLB

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Happy Birthday, Walt!

December 5, 2018– Ok, so today is Walt Disney’s birthday and I know he wasn’t an author, but he was one hell of an entrepreneur! We talk a lot about entrepreneurs on this blog, and as authors and illustrators, well, we are entrepreneurs. Walt was an artist, producer, and game-changer. To celebrate his birthday, let’s look at some interesting facts about the man behind the magic!

  1. He failed. A lot. Legend has it that Walt failed an epic 320 times before getting the financing for his dream of Disneyland. Imagine if he had of given up!
  2. He helped with the war effort. Even though the Disney Company was not in a good financial position at the beginning World War II, Walt decided it was vital that he and his company help in the war effort.  Walt Disney Training Films unit was created which were instruction films for the American military and propaganda films for the American public.  He won an Academy Award in 1943 for his short propaganda film, Der Fuehrer’s Face.
  3. He learned to draw by doing this. Walt spent most of his time at school doodling. He learned to draw by copying newspaper cartoons, specifically from an American Midwest newspaper called Appeal to Reason which his father was an avid reader of. Walt wasn’t interested in the political editorials, but he enjoyed looking at the front page cartoons. At this time there were no animated films or comic books, Walt found the cartoons exciting and the style demonstrated in the cartoons would later appear in his own!

Happy birthday to the legend that is Walt Disney!

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Rejection…Why Does This Keep Happening?

May 25, 2018- Rejection isn’t easy, but it’s a natural part of life. A lot of the time editors and publishers give very little insight/info about why your work was rejected.

Usually, there are a couple of major reasons why work is rejected-I’m speaking from my own personal experience about why I reject manuscripts.

  1. Your work isn’t ready to be submitted but you submitted it anyway.
  2. You queried me incorrectly, didn’t follow the guidelines, disregarded the submission process and were unprofessional.

Yikes! I know that this sounds harsh, but you deserve the truth. Now, I’m not saying that these are the ONLY two reasons, there are others. Let’s explore some of the additional reasons why editors/publishers reject submitted manuscripts.

Reasons for rejection are totally subjective, but here are some possibilities and additional reasons why I would reject something:

  • Something was recently published that is similar. Simply put, someone already thought of it, and it’s on my desk at this moment in queue for publication.
  • The timing is wrong. I’ve cut back on my list or maybe I’m at my max for whatever genre has been submitted. Maybe something has changed in the market or perhaps the manuscript submitted is not saleable.
  • You have no author platform or you have major controversy surrounding your online presence. This is not always something that will disqualify you from getting a deal with my publishing house, but it’s a pretty big factor.

Keep these things in mind when you’ve been rejected and remember to never give up!

Happy Writing!

X LLB

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