Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thursday Q&A: Why am I not getting published?

Today’s question comes from Natasha B.:

 My family and friends read my story and loved it, so why does it keep being rejected by publishers?

You have to love family and friends, especially the truly supportive ones.  Always make sure you appreciate them!

But, there are two general reasons why it isn’t such a good idea to have them critique your writing. 

First, most loved ones only want to encourage you and don’t want to hurt your feelings by saying anything negative.  This doesn’t mean they are lying to you or didn’t like the story, simply that they will usually tell you what you want or need to hear—even if you ask them to be hard, they won’t, for your sake.  Admirable and loving, most definitely…but not helpful.

Second, and most important, most family and friends don’t know the technical aspects of Goal-Motivation-Conflict, POV, Pace, Validation/Details, Characterization or Sentence Structure.  So, they may enjoy your story, not knowing the facets that could make it better, and more important, publishable.

Not that you shouldn’t let family and friends read your work if you so choose, simply that you also need an impartial third party to evaluate and see what's really going on in your manuscript.

Critique partners are INVALUABLE for this.  Getting with a group or even just one or two other writers to help motivate, and especially assist in helping find the areas that aren’t working in your manuscript is essential for the up and coming writer--well, in truth, any writer whether new or established. 

Now, I will say that I equate finding a critique partner to that of dating.  It may take feeling out a few to find the one or two that you can work with.  Everyone has different personalities and different work ethics, and it is important that you find those that you are compatible with.  BUT, let me tell you, when you do, the added bonus is often building great and long lasting friendships. 

If finding a critique partner isn’t up your alley or too time consuming for you, then having your manuscript assessed by a freelance editor is another option.  There will obviously be fees associated with this choice, but the knowledge you will gain and the guidance in the areas that need to be worked on can more than make up for the cost.
So, let your family support you, but don't put the pressure on them to evaluate your manuscript.   Find a critique partner, writing group or freelance editor to guide you down that path to publication.

For those of you reading this, do you have critique partners?  And if so, how did you find them?  Feel free to share stories and benefits!



Thank you again to Natasha for the question today.  She will receive a thank you envelope with a pen, bookmarks and other fun stuff from a number of my authors. 

For a chance to receive a fun stuffed envelope, simply send me a question about writing, editing or the publishing process.  No question is too little, too silly or should be too embarrassing to ask--knowledge is the key that opens many doors. So, go ahead and ask me: 

And if I use your question on my blog, I will send you a small thank you envelope, too.


  1. I went 7 books without a critique partner. I write pretty clean, so it was never an issue of contract or no contract for my problems. But when I decided to go indie on a 3 book series, I knew I needed help. I asked an author friend whose work I enjoy and who has excellent editing skills if she wanted to swap manuscripts. A relationship was forged. Amazing what someone else sees that you miss in your own writing. For me, it's the overused phrase. Seems I pick a new one with each book and beat it to death. LOL I agree with everything you said, Stacy. A good CP is invaluable!

    1. LOL Jannine! But good for you and great way to find a critique partner by exchange!

  2. I was going crazy asking my friends and family to help critique...they were so impressed that I could write - period - nothing helpful came out of their readings. I hired someone to help edit the first book, and while she gave me some great insight, I know my e-novella will not cover the cost I spent.
    I'm hoping to find a critique partner going forward, and have joined my local RWA group, so hopefully something will come from that. Right now I'm waiting though because I know I don't have the time to give to a partner what I am hoping to get back in return.

  3. Charlotte, all very good points. And that is one thing I forgot to mention--you have to be as available to them as you want them to be with you.

    Good luck!