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Manuscript Rejection – Dealing With The Feedback

You’ve sent your manuscript to several agents and now the feedback is starting to come back. One thinks your characters need a bit of pizazz but your setting is perfect; another loves the story but feels your voice is all wrong. How do you deal with the feedback? The first thing you need to do is figure out whether the criticism is constructive and worth listening to or destructive and not worth another minute of your time. Concentrate on the feedback that surrounds your craft and not those that pertain to the agent’s taste. Here are three that you should consider and two that you can ignore.

Your subplot doesn’t match your main story

Don’t ignore this – it is very valid criticism. You may have a fantastic main story and a fabulous subplot but does the subplot distract the reader too much from the main one? Maybe consider reducing the subplot so it keeps your main story as your main story. You could always keep what you wrote as the subplot and turn it into another book…

I’m confused by the way you structured your novel

Again, this is valid. You may have chapters that are wildly different in length, an inconsistent story, and so on. You will need to revise your structure – it won't be easy and it won't be quick but it will be worth it. The only time you should ignore this is if the way you structured the novel is integral to the story.

I don’t like your main protagonist/antagonist/any other character

You can ignore this. No two people will get the same thing from your story and different people will love or hate different characters.  Don’t change your characters and don’t rewrite because this is a personal opinion; no doubt you wrote your characters the way you did for a reason! Likeability or otherwise of your characters is very subjective.

Your monster is not really a monster

Don’t ignore this. Conflict is what drives a story and if your monster isn’t terrible enough or isn’t behaving badly then you need to rewrite a little. That monster is figurative of course; if you have a bad or evil character in your story, then it must be bad or evil enough to make the story interesting and give it that conflict. Consider narrative tension; it's what most readers want to see.

I couldn’t connect with your voice.

This one you can safely ignore. And don’t panic when you see it either! Your voice is what you write in and it is you. It changes slowly over the years; no author writes the same throughout their entire career. If you see this in any rejection letter, it is just the agent telling you, quite kindly, that they didn’t like what you wrote. There’s nothing wrong with that; you can't cater to all the people all the time.

You will likely see more than one rejection letter in your time and you will see many different reasons why your manuscript is rejected. The trick is in determining what to take notice of and what to ignore.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds