A Nice Rejection - If there is such a thing.

Comments: 9

Yesterday I received a very nice rejection from an agent, but don't know what to do with her suggestions.

Here's what she said:

Thank you for sending the beginning of SWEET REVENGE and for your patience in waiting to hear back from me. You have an intense story line here, and I can see from your synopsis how the tension escalates throughout the story. However, I must be honest and say that I didn't make a strong enough connection with the story itself to pursue it further. I've found that setting a novel in the recent past, like the 1960s, can make the story a tough sell, unless the 1960s setting is absolutely crucial to the story. I'm not sure how crucial the time period is to your story, but I thought I'd mention it as food for thought.

As some of you know, this novel is set in the mid-1960s and I do mention important events happening at the time, including the Vietnam war -- I have Jeff calling Mark a draft dodger, among other names, etc. Aside from that, I don't know how to make this novel more salable. As you also know, I've considered rewriting it to make it contemporary, but I would have trouble mimicking today's teenage jargon to make it sound realistic, and that would probably mean a total rewrite and I don't have the patience for that much effort, not after several years of working on this version.

So, I'm wondering: should I just keep trying to sell it as a historic novel? Or should I just trash it? I guess I need to sleep on it some.


Now, for my gospel take for this week:

I heard in the news the other day that the Pope has issued a letter to all Bishops that they should not give genealogical information to members of the LDS Church. His reasoning is that we will take that information to our temples and perform baptisms for them.

While that is true, I can't help wondering why he should care? If you believe, as we do, and I'm sure the Pope does also, that the people on the other side are still individuals with free will to think for themselves, they can either accept the work or reject it, just as people here in mortality can do. So, what's the issue here? To my thinking, it's part of Satan's plan to frustrate the work God has given us to do. But, knowing the work is God's work, He will not let a little frustration to stop His work. We will eventually triumph over Satan and the work will be accomplished, with or without the help of Catholic Bishops and Priests.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Thursday, May 08, 2008

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  1. I think that if Paul West were telling Geoffrey Halstead, in Mrs. Bly's 6th grade class at Tamarisk Elementary School in Palmdale that HE were a draft dodger, it would be incredibly interesting to me, and I would pay a lot for the book.--wmnlinda42@hotmail.com

  2. I don't think you should trash it. I'm not sure how many agents or publishers you've tried but someone somewhere might be looking for novels that are set in that time or just looking for something different.
    And I'm not ever sure why it would be a tough sell. I can't picture any reader not wanting to buy a book because it was set in a time period certain. If the story is good, I don't think it will matter.
    Besides it's just one opinion. If more than one person said that, then I might be concerned.
    Good luck!

  3. Oh, wow! Two more readers. Now I'm up to 3 or 4. This is great!!!

    Just kidding.

    Thank you anonymous and ashley for your votes of confidence. I really do want to publish it the way it is - set in the 1960s.

  4. The time spent on the novel is considered a sunk cost. Meaning it has already been spent and can't be brought back. Therefore, it should not be a consideration for the decision you have to make now. (That is not to discount the emotional investment you have spent on this.) What is it you want going forward?

    Also, getting a teenager to help you speak the contemporary lingo shouldn't be too hard. The vocabulary list probably is not that extensive. (At least from my memories of my teenage years, there were only a certain set of words that were repeated ad nauseum like awesome.)

  5. Steve, you sound like an economist. I appreciate the logic of what you're saying, but I also need
    to emphasize the emotional aspect. Something few people realize is that I've revised this thing so
    many times I can't count them. Frankly, I'm tired of revising it. If I do revise it one more time, it
    will be to make it timeless. No set era. No set time frame. The only problem with that would be
    to the people who lived where this is set during the time it is actually set - does that make any
    sense? I doubt they'll care much, if at all. I suspect they may like the nostalgic look into their past
    like it was originally intended anyway.

    But for right now, I think I will keep trying to attract agents with it the way it is. If this agent
    thought so much of it to respond so positively, though it was ultimately a rejection, another agent
    may think it’s great.

    Thanks for your comments.

  6. It's best not to get into teen jargon, as it gets dated too fast.

    I wouldn't trash all that hard work! There is a huge audience of baby boomers out there looking for a good read that takes them back to their time. You may have to try a hundred agents before one bites, but that's the name of the writing game.

    By the way, if you love excellent photography, there is a superb FREE Salt Lake Temple screen saver by photographer, David Terry, on my blog today.

    Please help yourself, and spread the word! David has amazing skills.

  7. Thanks Anne. Do you think I should try selling it as an adult novel even though the characters are all YA?

    I hadn't thought of doing that.

  8. What about adding a subplot that is specifically oriented to the sixties--war, integration, something like that? Then you tie it in without totally impacted your main storyline.

  9. Hi Terrie,

    Thanks for your idea. It took me some time to find it. Fortunately, I got an e-mail notification that you'd made a comment.

    To answer your question: I have done that, at least I think I've done it enough to make it work.

    Thanks again for your ideas.