• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:


    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!

     

     

Fallon Friday: Why manuscripts are rejected – Jennifer Fallon

Manuscripts are rejected for any number of reasons, and not all of them because of the writing.

They can be rejected because of:

  • Inappropriate subject matter (you sent your horror epic to Harlequin)
  • Litigation concerns (I slept with George Dubya, but I don’t have the dress to prove it…)
  • Insufficient funds – budgetary constraints (it’s the end of the financial year, we’ve run out of money and your agent is asking for a seven figure advance)
  • Lack of author credibility (this applies mostly to non-fiction – unless you’re a world authority on the subject, your brilliant dissertation on the “Chemical Composition of Belly Button Fluff” probably won’t get a look in)
  • Bad timing – You need to send in your hilarious children’s Christmas story in February, not December – it takes a minimum of 9 months and probably longer to publish a book
  • Too long (300,000 word romances rarely make it off the sludge pile. Actually, 300,000 word anything, tends to be doomed)
  • Too short (40,000 word fantasies won’t be considered for the adult market – publishers want a minimum of 130,000 words)
  • Someone else (perhaps an established author) sent in a MS on exactly the same topic last month and they bought it
  • Brilliant writing – terrible plot
  • Terrible writing – brilliant plot (see note below.)
  • The publisher is not accepting unsolicited manuscripts
  • Author is known to be difficult to work with
  • Last work by this author only sold 4 copies (and they were bought by his mum)
  • Unoriginal, cliched and done to death.
  • Too original… (no adjectives… no letter “e”…”I’ve written my whole story without using the word ‘the’…” etc)
  • The girl in accounting didn’t like it

Frequently, it is not the editor who picks up your MS in the first instance. My agent often employs an outside “reader” to wade through the sludge pile, as do quite a few publishers. It might be one of the secretaries, the IT guy, even the tea lady, who reads your MS and then, having read it, goes back to the editor and says, “you should look at this – it was great!” or “see what you think – but I thought it was dreadful…”

The editor will glance through it after that, and might decide differently, but the chances are, if the girl in accounting who loves romances reads your romance MS first and didn’t like it, you’ll soon have it back in the mail with a photocopied rejection slip.

This may seem cruel and arbitrary, but it makes very good sense. If your book ever hits the shelves, it won’t be well-trained editors who pay cold hard cash for it; it will be all the regular people (like the girl in accounting) who buy it. Editors use the resources around them to filter out the junk. If you can’t appeal to the girl in accounting who is a good example of the market for your work, the publisher isn’t going to waste time or money publishing it.

The chances are that if you have submitted your MS yourself, you may never know why it was rejected. If your agent submitted the MS, you have a much better chance of getting some feedback.

A final on the subject of terrible writing – brilliant plot. It’s not enough to be able to write well. You have to be able to “tell a story” and the two skills are quite different and often it’s not the writing it’s the storytelling that lets a writer down.

Jennifer Fallon’s next set of Fallon Friday posts will be a three part series dispelling some of the myths around getting published. Look out next Friday … and the Friday after that … and the Friday after that, for some very good advice.

Click here to visit Jennifer’s website.

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