Don’t Give Up the Search

books on writingIf you are a writer who’s serious about getting your next article or book published, then you no doubt have endured some rejections. Ow. That’s a harsh word. Let’s call them “declines” or “no thank you’s.” Or, how about you comment with clever names for the letters and emails we get when an agent, editor or publisher doesn’t want our work.

You’ve probably also grown accustomed to waiting, waiting, waiting for a response. Fortunately, many  agents are more lenient now and accept queries that have been sent simultaneously to other agents, making our wait for one to respond less of a time waster.

And boy can time be wasted. I sent a query December 2015 and received a reply July 27, 2016. Here it is:

Dear Author,

On behalf of the agents here at Lowenstein Associates, thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work. I apologize for the form letter, but the volume of query letters we receive means we cannot send every writer a personal response. Please know that we do give each and every query serious attention.

Unfortunately, we do not feel strongly enough about your project to pursue it further. Agenting is very subjective, however, and even though we could not take on your project, another agent might feel differently. 

Please accept our best wishes for success in your writing career.

Assistant to Barbara Lowenstein and Mary South
Lowenstein Associates
I’m not giving up. I know my query is written well and my novel has a readership waiting for it.
How about you? Do you know you are sending your best work out? Will you give up?




Nicest Non-rejection Rejection and Then Some

Read this “no thanks” I got on my query from FinePrint Literary Management:
Thanks for writing to me about your work.

I’m sorry, this is a pass for me.

Right now my list is very full, and I’m fortunate that business
is very good so I have to pass on projects that are not only
good and publishable but ones I really like. That’s a good
problem for me, but it just stinks from the writer’s
viewpoint, yes indeed it does.

I strongly encourage you to query widely. Other agents have more wiggle room
on their lists and are able to take on more than I can.

Please think of this as redirection to another agent, not rejection.

Very best wishes to you!

Janet Reid
FinePrint Literary Management

help on query letters-

my blog:

my website:

Wasn’t that nice of her to write a gracious rejection and include helpful links?

About my published YA novel Ken’s War: As the conflict in Vietnam escalates, army brat Ken finds himself in Japan when his hot-headed dad, Captain Paderson, is suddenly deployed to a remote post there. Culture clash is one of the many sucker punches that knocks Ken’s world upside down. He struggles as his assumptions about friends and enemies, loyalty and betrayal, and love and manipulation are fractured. An army misfit, a Japanese girl and a martial arts master play unforgettable roles in Ken’s rocky journey in this coming-of-age story.

How to Get a “YES” to Your Query Letter

Beth Fowler headshot Before sending query letters to hardcopy and online publications, use the Analyzing Magazine and Newspaper “House Style” guide to raise your odds of getting eager, favorable replies from editors.


Look at a publication’s table of contents, illustrations and advertisements to determine the targeted readers’:



  1. Gender and age range
  2. Marital status
  3. Occupations and income levels
  4. Education levels
  5. Social group
  6. Moral, political, religious outlooks
  7. Main likes and dislikes


Scan several articles in one magazine, or several articles in several issues of the same magazine, to determine:


  1. Technique used in most opening paragraphs.
  2. Average number of words per article.
  3. Average number of words per sentence.
  4. Average length of paragraphs.
  5. Vocabulary – informal, academic, slang, jargon, colloquial
  6. Simple or complex sentences.
  7. The extent adjectives and adverbs are used.
  8. The extent of descriptive passages.
  9. Proportion of narrative and quotes.
  10. Proportion of subjective passages (feelings/emotions) and objective passages (facts/data).
  11. Technique used in most concluding paragraphs.
  12. What is the mission of most articles? (educate, entertain, titillate, amuse, persuade, etc.)


Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”


 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.




How to Impress Editors and Get Published: Part 2

(c) Beth Fowler

(c) Beth Fowler

During my two-week stint as an editor, I developed sympathy for editors who’d rejected my work in the past. (Contact me for your free copy of Travelers’ Tales, the anthology I edited.)

While wielding the red pen, I learned what pleases and annoys editors. I’ve also gathered advice to writers from other editors. Here’s the scoop.


WRITE FRESH: Editors love word combinations that convey image, emotion and action. “Words,” said one freelance editor, “can engage readers to keep on reading.” Keeping readers reading is every editor’s mission.

“One of the ways you can judge a good writer,” an editor at Delacorte Press said, “is if he shows you something. You see it in action. You don’t have to write adverbially.” Or adjectivally.

Adverbs and adjectives tell instead of show. Action should convey the person’s manner. “He ate greedily,” comes alive as “He crammed biscuits into his mouth. Melted butter dribbled down his chin.” Happy, generous and similar adjectives are interpretations filtered through the writer’s judgment. “Although poor, they were generous,” becomes fresher rewritten as “The family invited us into their tin shack for tea and tortillas.” The author’s job is to draw word pictures. Let readers draw the conclusion.

“Write with a unique twist and include lively quotes and statistics,” said Kim Lisi who’d edited Home Business Journal. “Show some creative effort.”

CUT THE CHATTER: After her vacation, an acquisitions editor returned to work only to get buried under 800 e-mails, phone messages and letters. She begged writers to hold off communications until she’d dug out.

Editors appreciate writers who resist asking about the status of submitted material until a reasonable period has passed, who send in their best work the first time (not submitting minor revisions after the piece was accepted) and who don’t ask questions that are covered in the guidelines.

In Book Editors Talk to Writers, Judy Mandell reported that editing is “…a world of deadlines, bottom lines, and all-out stress. Editors would like to deal personally with every writer. But, they can’t. They’re just too busy.” Editors usually don’t have time to tutor novice writers or enter into philosophical or gossipy exchanges. “Keep the personal commentary brief unless we’re well acquainted,” said The Phoenix editor Pat Samples.

The editor of a magazine for an organization with 180,000 members worldwide was more direct. “Don’t pester editors. We’re busy and we’ll get back to you when we can. We remember the names of the people that have bothered us and it’s not in a good way.”

PROVIDE THE VITALS: Electronic mail is a double-edged sword in editor-land. While transmission is virtually instant, some authors omit the basics. “Include all contact details when sending ideas for articles,” said Mark Berriman of New Vegetarian and Natural Health. Surprisingly, he also receives articles without bylines included!

Editors who accept e-mailed queries and articles appreciate “netiquette.” Write specific topics in e-mail subject lines. (Unless directed otherwise.) E-mails with common subject lines such as “submission” or “article here” are difficult to find when editors want to refer to them later.

When attaching documents, write brief explanations or introductions in the bodies of e-mails. Some editors won’t open attachments if they don’t know what they are. (They’re too busy, for one. And, two, attachments spread viruses.) One editor said, “Don’t put me on your e-mail distribution list.” Editors don’t want digital photos of pets and junk that’s been forwarded a jillion times.

In subsequent communications, continue to supply your full name and title of the project. Editors working on myriad projects can’t remember if Jason Smith wrote “Recycling Batteries,” or was that Jackson Smyth and “Battered Cycles”?

Stay tuned for Part 3


When teen hormones and culture shock collide, describes the story of Ken’s War, to be released in late May by Melange Books LLC. Get the inside story at

ken's war cover


Write a Winning Query Letter

What about query letters to magazine editors?

Query letters are previews to coming attractions, therefore, I write query letters after I’ve gained adequate knowledge about the topic. This enables me to insert enticing tidbits. I also list my interviewee list so the editor knows whose expertise and experience I will incorporate in my article.

I consult my query letter as I write the article to ensure I deliver the promised goods.

For more sure-fire tips that have helped me convince hundreds of editors to request my articles (and pay for them), listen to Paul Lima of the University of Toronto.

In a future blog, I’ll share the query that landed a deal for my novel, Ken’s War.

The novel highlights Ken’s attempts to find his place in a world turned upside-down. Exquisitely portrayed characters play indelible roles in Ken’s rocky journey from boyhood to manhood.