My First Rejection

To be fair, this is the only publisher I’ve submitted to.

I heard back from Sara at Inspired Quill yesterday evening, although I only read it this morning. Unfortunately, they aren’t accepting Hidden Fire this time round but the advice she gave was really useful. I’m going to go back and look at both Hidden Fire and Fire Betrayed again, with her feedback in mind.

I was chuffed with this:

wonderful authorial voice that flows well and is a pleasure to read. Your characters are interesting, and it’s obvious that you know every detail about the world you’ve created.

… I like the way you don’t end every sentence with ‘said’ or ‘she shook her head’ (or similar!)…

I’m just sorry that currently, Inspired Quill doesn’t have the resources to offer you a contract and work with you.


The feedback boils down to:

  • Dialogue can be hard to follow when there are groups – non-verbal cues
  • More telling than showing – non-verbal cues
  • Episodic (good because keeps readers engaged) but needs a unifying arc running through.

The autistic writer has a problem with non-verbal cues and tone of voice. Now there’s a surprise! (This is a humorous comment, not a criticism of the feedback).

I can work with this. It’s not a problem.

I published Hidden Fire and Fire Betrayed a year ago, and I’ve learnt a lot since, especially during my dissertation writing. My supervisor, although a bit harsh at times, pushed me to write better, and his advice coincides with what Sara has written, to a certain extent.

Yes, it hurts my ego a bit and I’ll be shying away from doing anything for a while, but, I know how I react. Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll start work on them all again.

Completely random thought re: criticism and autistic people:

People say auties are rubbish with criticism, but I think it’s just a case of us needed longer to process and reflect so our automatic response is ‘nope, not happening, not doing it’, because, I at least feel like, when people criticise they expect immediate change and improvement and it’s just not possible, so ‘shut down and refuse’ is the go to response. Given time and no pestering, it’s possible to integrate the criticism into my worldview and work on it, but I need enough processing time (about two weeks). I don’t know if that’s how other auties feel, but that’s how it works for me. Maybe, instead of just listing ‘doesn’t respond well to criticism’, people should ask about how we feel and approach criticism, how we process and integrate it, instead?


  1. Rejection is part of being a writer. Onwards and upwards. Love your cover.

    1. R Cawkwell says:

      It is. I’ve had magazine articles rejected before but this is the first time my novels have been rejected. I’m encouraged by the feedback though, and and Sara at Inspired Quill sent me some links to help with my non-verbal cues issue.

    2. R Cawkwell says:

      Also, thanks, my cover designer, Michelle Conner does a lovely job. They’re the covers for the self-published versions of the novels.

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