re: Confusing Rejection Letters from Editors

in Submissions by

Dear Editor…

I have received a couple of rejection notices from editors that confuse me. They write they like the premise and voice, but say the execution fell short.  What do editors mean when they talk about execution? Pace? Plot?

Thanks!
Author in Waiting

Dear Author in Waiting…

Pace? Plot? Possibly. The fact is, the editors didn’t specify exactly what they thought fell short, so you’re left to do exactly what you are doing: guessing. Bleh. Alas, useful feedback takes time, something beleaguered editors are hard-pressed to find even for the books they already have under contract. BUT they did slip you some very valuable feedback: that your premise and voice are The Goods. That’s huge. Two of the toughest critics you’ll face just told you 1) that your concept is engaging enough—and shows enough market potential—to get them to stop their hectic day to read your manuscript, and 2) that they bought into your narrative voice. They didn’t have to tell you that; they could’ve just whipped out one of those generic “It’s not for me” replies. So, while those editors didn’t give you a blueprint for revision, they did confirm that your manuscript has key strengths. That should put well-deserved pep in your step. For your revision, I suggest you focus on more abstract items like tension, pace, and character arcs, as those are harder to explain in quick rejection letters than dialogue (“the characters didn’t sound natural”) or plot (“the storyline didn’t hold up”), and thus are more likely to fall into the grab bag that is “execution.”

Happy writing!

The Editor

1 Comment

  1. Thanks! I took a good look at the chapters from a tension stand point and I can see several chapters in the first half that add to the character arcs, but don’t hold their own in the tension department.

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