Monday, 28 January 2013

Self Publishing: Creating Your Own Cover (I)

Are you an artist? Are you? You are? Well, in that case, carry on.

But if you're not?

The temptation of the author who wishes to move into the self publishing arena is to create their own cover. "Why?" I hear you ask. "Money," I answer. It's cheap.

Thing is, not all of us know how to do it. It's not easy, per say.

So I looked at it. I'm not too shabby with Photoshop - I do poster design for work. I looked at the legality minefield. It is a minefield. The thought of doing it was something that I could actually get my head around. So I began:

Deciding on a design.

It's easy to picture how you want the cover of your book to look, when you haven't got to create it. So you picture it. Once it's pictured, think about how you want to create it. Is it a photo? Is it a masterpiece of art? Is it plain?

Just taking these things: First, the photo.

You want a book cover that looks like, say, this:
The Leather Maiden: Joe Lansdale

Yeah, okay, fair enough. Let's also say you don't own a $400 camera. Or indeed know how to use one. You need to buy the photo.

And no, just because it's on Google, doesn't mean you can use it. That is stealing.

You need to grab hold of a photo legally. And that is where the minefield starts. So, first to Istockphoto.

I find an image that I think fits the bill. It's about $22. No problem. I buy it, create the cover and all is well with the world. But no, hold on. Try looking at the licensing options for the image. There are two choices - $22 is for the Standard License. If I choose the Extended License I get a drop down list asking me five questions, and with each answer of yes, the price goes up. It starts at about $130. It's asking about Multi-Seat Licenses. What in Hell's name is Multi-Seating? Do I need that? Aah! 

So. Whilst each site is different, I shall go through Istockphoto.

First of all, neither the Basic, nor the Extended license can be used for:

"Online "print-on-demand" products"

So that means what? I can't use an image from this site to put on a book that I want printed through Createspace? 

Umm... yes, I can, apparently. Like I said, minefield. When Istockphoto talk about print on demand they're talking about things like tees and mugs. Not apparently 'print on demand' books. Confused? You will be.

The Basic License:

Can I use it for a book cover?

Yes. With a basic license you can use the image to create a book cover that will ship no more the 499,999 copies. Not a problem for most of us. This is good news.

Can I use it in my marketing?

Yes. With some limitations. For an advert on, say, your website, the maximum image size permitted is 1200 x 800 pixels. The maximum video image size limitation is 640 x 480. However you can use any size reproduction as long as the image has had 'substantial changes to the content'... which is? I don't know. I'm not going to pretend to know. I've trawled the interwebs for an answer, and not much is forth-coming. I'd say contact support on a per image query basis.

For leaflets and the likes, again, yes. But again only up to 499,999 copies.

So, all in all the Basic License will do for most of us. But what about...

The Extended License:

Book cover.

The Extended License plus the additional fee for Unlimited re-prints allows you to tip over 500,000 mark. It does come in at a whopping +$180 ish, but hey, what's a couple of hundred dollars if you're planning on shifting over half a million units? AmIright?

Marketing.

The same as the Basic License.

So, buy the basic license unless you're expecting to sell over half a million copies of the book.

Okay, that was simple. Anything else down there in the legal jargon?

Well,there is Multi-Seating. This appears to be legal jargon for 'using it more than once' at any one time. So you'll need to shell out for this if you want to make a book cover, and a marketing banner out of one image. It'll set you back around $180.

So what about the other big player, Shutterstock?

Well, it's much the same, the numbers are a bit different (substitute 500,000 for 250,000), and there is a clause that on print books with print runs over 250,000 (which requires the Enhanced License) you have to place a credit to the Artist and to Shutterstock themselves.

Okay, fine. So expecting to go with less than say, 100,000 copies and ebook imprint only, I can buy the picture. But there are also free sites. Yeah, it's this complex.

Stock Xchng have free photos for corporate use. Yes, free. You can stick them on your book cover. Yes, I know that perhaps there is not the choice that that others give, but hey, budget, remember? And yes, if you have a grasp of Photoshop, you'd be surprised how you can warp a stock image to look like... well, anything.

So there you go. I've rambled a whole post talking about stock images, and only on three of the hundreds, possibly thousands of sites.

So next time it'll be more Creating Your Own Cover...

PS: These ramblings on licensing are libel to change, so always check the site when you're looking at purchasing.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Self Publishing: Premade Covers

So, the cover. They say in cheffing that the first bite is with the eye.The same is true for a book.

The self published author must decide on how to go about the cover of their book. It is complicated.

I have decided that there are three primary routes to consider:

You can: do it yourself, purchase a pre-designed cover, hire a designer/artist.


So I'll start today with...

Buying a Premade Cover

I didn't know anything about this until I was looking at covers for myself. I thought there were only the two options. Little did I know that I could buy a cover off the shelf. You just pick it, tell them the title of the book and the author's byline and bam! Book cover.

To be honest, they look good, too. And they're not that expensive.

So what are the downsides?

Artistic license.

You have none. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Hell, you can't even most of them what font you'd like. You get what it says on the box. Which is pretty good, unless you have some creative ideas of you're own. If you do, this is the end of the line. Of course, this can be changed but a financial transaction, but then you've shifted into hiring a designer turf.

Genre.

For genre, depending on where you are will depend on the choice you get. For example, Romance premade book covers are copious, roll in generally between $20 and $40 and feature couple/man/woman material. Seems reasonable. Horror... er... yeah. The horror covers that I've looked at are fairly generic (haunted house type) and too be honest stay safely away from anything that could be considered 'edgy'. So, yeah, it depends what you need.

Uniqueness.

No. You don't get any. Well, not guaranteed... without, yes, you guessed it, a financial transaction.


Here is a site that sells premade covers (typical off the shelf stuff) see what you think. (I am not affiliated with the site in anyway, and do not endorse their work - it was just one of many I looked at)

Anyway, next time, more covers...


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Being an Author: Where I'm at.

Drowning.

That's where I'm at.

Projects. I want to say too many to name, but hell, I'm gonna start naming.

This week 'naming' has caused me some concerns. I won't go into it, but I was angry and hurt by something that I stumbled across whilst looking into open calls. But as my Random Ramble stated at the beginning of the week - keep moving forward. I've decided to bury the hatchet. Whether that is in someone's head or not remains to be seen.

Shutter Speed.

Novel. Horror. Touting. Anyone wanna buy a novel?

The Human Condition.

Waiting to go to print. Ain't it sweet:



Redemption.

What started life as a collection of interlinked novellas have been Frankensteined into a novel. I just need to add a few parts here and there, and work out what to do with last remaining character I want to kill off and then it is done. It doesn't help that a couple of weeks ago I made a rather emphatic change to it. I sort of gave it cardiomegaly. Which is a good thing long term, but meant that my meanders into one characters hatred of a film star had to be changed. It will soon be revealed.

The Devil's Hand.

What started as a short for an open call has morphed. I completed it. Looked at it. Realized I loved one of the characters, and had to keep going. I have plotted and planned (yes, me) a five novelette serial based on the character. I'm working on finalizing covers for them, the first is done, the second all but and then forward. Watch this space.

Spoiler. First look:



Untitled.

The second solo novel. Ah yes. My new, somewhat secret project. I'm keeping this one close to my belt. It's all horror and supernatural stuff. Got a good feeling about this one.

Untitled Collab.

The talking is done. We've both agreed to wait until a couple of other things are out the way, but this one is new for me. I'm going a little off-genre. Yeah. Me. Not doing the straight horror thing.

Anyone would think I was growing.

I still have other projects, but they are currently on hold while things get sorted out.

So that's where I am.

As an aside though:

I've just had word that Pill Hill Press has closed it's doors. I haven't worked with Jessie or Alva in many years, but they were the press that published Haunted Mansion. It contained my first ever published story. For that I owe them, possibly, my whole writing career.

I wish them and their family well, and the best for the future.

Good luck.

'Til next time...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Being an Author: Ethics

I was half way though writing a post on the state of play of my current projects.

Then, in a moment of thought, I changed my mind and wrote this.

Some time ago, the mighty Chuck Wendig wrote a post on Terrible Minds that said he wouldn't read a manuscript for fear of being accused in the future of possible plagiarism. I can't find it to link to it, so may have dreamed it. Either way, check out his blog. It's awesome.

Then some other shit happened.

And then I was left writing about ethics and fear. You see, I sit here writing on my corner of the internet telling you to have your work read, edited, proofed, advertized, shouted about... the list goes on... but sometimes you need to sit back and think about it.

And I'm not just talking about plagiarism.

Being a writer, new and inexperienced or old and seasoned, can leave you wide open to all sorts of different predicaments when your work is left in the hands of others. Whether that is the blurb of a book, the artwork, title, concepts, or, of course, content.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to trust. Or perhaps naivety. Or gullibility.

Most writers, myself included, have access to other people's work. We help each other. We proof, we edit, we work in the long term, exchanging favors for favors, in the hope that one day the art will be better, we will all be better writers and product is the best it can be.

It transpires that not everyone thinks like me.

Does that make me gullible?

Does it make me foolish to think that because I would not plagiarize someone's work, that someone would not mine or anothers?

To some, that answer is yes. I've considered it myself all this week.

That is why I stopped writing about my work that has not been released yet, in favor of this.

I don't think that it would be right for me or my work to hide in a box. My art would suffer. So I will pick my friends carefully and soldier on.

But to those of you who do read others work before or after it has been released, remember that the work is that of someone else. Whatever it is.

And whilst the line of legality may not be crossed, remember the creator of the work. Think about your morals.

Have ethics. 


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Self Publishing: Story

Story rocks.

That about sums it up. Whether you wish to self pub a novel or a short is of no consequence here. (In fact, as a point of interest I looked into what the minimum word count that Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is, and couldn't find one, but that is an aside)

Story. Okay, now I'm not about to tell anyone anything about the quality of their work. I'm not here to do that.

But you'll hurt yourself in the long term if you self publish what the mainstream decide as 'garbage'.

Real Amazon reviews on fictional works:

"the only mention of the developing world is so racist you have to suppress all memory of it if you want to continue"


"Only got past the first chapter and then deleted it"

"This crude, pathetic, unknowledgable load of rubbish should never have been published in any format!"

If you see too many of these, it can't be good for the book. Fine. But longer term, as a writer, do you want to be tarnished with that sort of reputation? Trying to part people from their hard earned cash is tough at the best of times, but if you're labeled as a bad writer, people won't be forgiving.

People also have long memories.

So do publishers. If in the future you want to get picked up by a publisher or press, having the memory of an awful work in the background isn't going to help.

So, how do we avoid this?

Whether someone likes your story or not is a very personal thing, so I'm not really going to mention that. Just make sure it is a story worth telling.

No, I'm going to bang on about other things.

Like grammar. I know, it's a horrible word. Truly, it's a horrible thing, and one of my personal problems. See, I'm rubbish at grammar. I can't even spot I'm wrong.

Thing is, neither can most people.

It might not be grammar, per se, but spelling or incorrect word usage. You can't trust a spell checker. Sure run the spell checker over it, but pay firm attention to what it wants to change - it isn't always right - and it won't see incorrect word usage. Only people can do that.

Find people to read it, proof it, edit it. As many as you can. They'll find some problems. And they won't be the same.

Use a piece of reading software - like Text Aloud - and listen to your work. You hear things that you didn't see.

Ack! Read it aloud. To yourself. When there's no one there. Do it slowly. As slowly and as carefully as you can.

Each of these things will help the final piece to be the best it can.

Next time, I'll begin with my expecedt three part offering on covers...

Three Random Writing Rambles: 15/01/13

Make a choice about your writing. When you step into the world of being an author you can hide in the closet, or shout about it. If you shout about it, you have to be prepared that things will go wrong. Plagiarism is a crime and you do not have to put up with it. You can do something about that shit. There are other things you can do nothing about. Sometimes you've just got to suck it up.

Don't get pissed off at people. It's not their fault. (Well, okay, it probably is, but why would they care?)

Keep moving forward. It's the only way to better yourself as a writer, and as a person. Work hard, try to work often. As they say: write drunk, edit sober. (or in my case not - my fingers stop working after one drink).

Sunday, 13 January 2013

An Interview: Donald White


Today, FilingWords is proud to be joined by author, Donald White. 

Donald White: Author
FW: Donald, thanks for stopping by. Please, tell us a little about yourself.

DW: I grew up on the North Carolina coast, but I now reside in Durham. I am currently employed at a software company in Raleigh, but my real passion is writing. I have over two dozen original works in various genres.

FW: You have several ebooks available at Amazon. Tell us about them.

DW: “Lady Killer” is the story of a killer, of course. Rick Smith has a proclivity for murdering women of a high station in life and Elizabeth Montgomery is his latest chosen victim. However, in the fine tradition of Hitchcock, there are a few twists and turns. Rick Smith will come to face a true predator.
 
“The Face in the Mirror” is a tale of a man struggling to write erotica who encounters a ghostly seductress in the form of Melanie. Who is she? What does she want? And why can he only see her when he looks into a mirror?

“Vengeance and Valor” is a work in the fantasy genre: a group of men are trapped in a cave by dark elf sprites. The inevitable conflict is bloody and brutal in the fashion of Robert E. Howard. It is a tale of uncommon bravery and unexpected heroes. 



FW: You’ve self published. Can you share any experiences with us, particularly as someone new to it?

DW: Self publishing is a different animal altogether. I have been published in print and in electronic formats; but when you self publish, by definition, you are doing it on your own. YOU are the publisher. YOU are the editor. The whole project stands or falls based on the decisions YOU make. That can be a daunting task, but it is also a satisfying one. I am the kind of person who is constantly putting themselves to the test, and then raising the bar. I like something I can sink my teeth into.

FW: Do you self edit, or do you have an editor?

DW: I do not have an editor as of yet. So, I constantly read and reread my work for grammar, structure, and economy of words. I do test my work with a few fellow authors, and any possible problems they point out are evaluated and, if necessary, the story is amended. Editing is an ongoing process with me, and it can take awhile to render the tale in its best possible form.

FW: Where is your writing going next?

DW: I would really like to put together a short story collection. I already have a title in mind and an idea for the cover. I intend to write an introduction for each story, delving into its psychological aspects. Once I am able to gain a foothold in the writing world with my shorter works, then I have a few novelettes and novellas along with a couple of fantasy novels that I intend to release. There is a LOT more to come.

FW: Is there anything that you enjoy more than anything else, when it comes to writing?

DW: I like stories about people. The characters are the life’s blood of any story. If you like them, then you will care about what happens to them. If you don’t like them, then you will not invest yourself in the work. When I write, I envision my characters as real people, with real motivations. Even the villain is a person, albeit with a fatal flaw.

FW: Is there anything else you like to add?

DW: I would like to thank you for your time and for the space to speak about what I am most passionate about. Writing is a passion that consumes you every day and every night. Each hour is an opportunity and not a minute should be wasted. I love to write. I have been writing for many years now and I look forward to sharing my visions with the world. 

Thank you Donald, for being here.

You can find Donald's work at his Amazon page here, and why not come on over and meet him on Facebook.

Not a Facebooker? Then here: Good old fashioned email: don73w@gmail.com

Friday, 11 January 2013

The Next Big Thing

Man, am I tardy. I got tagged on this 'ere blog hop by both Darren Gallagher and Eden Royce waaayyy before Christmas. It's been so long, mine may very well be the last...

So anyways, here's my next big thing:


What is the working title of your book?

Shutter Speed. That’s in concrete.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I have no idea. At all. I just sat down and started pantsing. When I started it could have finished at anytime, and been any length.  

What genre does your book fall under?

Horror. No, wait. Chiller.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a bit of a challenge. I don’t want to give too much away. Hm.




Ever since I saw him on Big Bang Theory, DJ Qualls was Puppy, the degenerate, paranoid, drug dealer.










I knew when I was writing the character of Simon, that Ray Winstone would be perfect. The father figure with a heart, who runs a breakfast cafe specializing in exotic foods.






What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I actually can’t. Dear God, this has got to be the hardest sentence in the world. Hold on...

Jimmy’s got a problem he can’t control and it’s the other half of him; the split personality is going to bring down Hell tonight.

How’s that?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s sitting with a publisher now, fingers crossed. I might self pub if I can’t find a publisher. Conceptually it’s a bit of a character piece, so I might have trouble finding it a home. Who knows?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?


About ten months. There’s a whole other half of the story to that. Time passed. What I will say is that next time when I start, I’m going to finish. No mucking around in the middle. No excuses.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?


Richard Barking?
Off the top of my head, I have no idea. It's sort of dark like Richard Laymon and Clive Barker, but character-y like King. So if the three had a love child, it would be like that. Richard Barking.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I've been writing horrors and chiller shorts now for a while now, and I saw the novel as the next logical step. That was actually my only inspiration to do this. I just wished it had been finished sooner.

The reason it is the story it is, is because I had just finished up The Human Condition and was off supernatural horror. The next solo novel's going to be all that.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Jimmy, the antagonist/protagonist of the piece is part of a two-part person. He’s got dissociative identity disorder. For the first half of the novel, the reader has no way of knowing which character in the cast is Jimmy. It’s all played from the other half of the personality.

See, that wasn't so hard. I know I'm supposed tag five people here at the bottom, but most people I know have already done it, so instead, I'm going to say visit these here blogs and check out their awesomeness:


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Self Publishing: Writer Beware.

I will, on many occasions I'm sure, say that things have gone wrong. They will. Of that I have no doubt, and of course, even with the best laid plans of mice and men, this cannot be avoided.

Self publishing is a minefield.

But every time I look at the minefield there are more mines.

For those of you who are looking into this for the first time, please, heed my words.

I'm not talking about Amazon or the likes, and I'm sure each of you could regale me with the best outlet for self publication, e-publication etc., but for me, where I am at, I keep seeing things that terrify me.

The next planned post is about the story, whether it is a novel or a short is of little consequence, but obviously I am thinking further ahead.

I have been looking at people and sites who design covers especially for ebooks.
I have been looking at publishers who specialize in ebooks.
I have looked far beyond the stage of I have a story and have decided to self publish.

I was on a site today that would publish chosen books (e-publish) and give a 50% royalty payment on sales. I didn't go into whether that was net of sales or blah blah, small print. I stopped before that. The gig was that if they published a book (it has to be novel length) the author would receive 50% of sales, but they would deal with cover work, and the actual publishing. (I know this isn't self publishing, per se, but my investigation in self publishing had me knocking at this door and hence it's not unreasonable that it wouldn't happen to others also)

Okay. That seems reasonable, to me, a layman.

Then I looked at the submission process.

Submit a book.
Get the book accepted. (this doesn't appear to have a 'condition')
In order for the publisher to put the book into publication, two existing authors must have agreed the book is good. (This seemed fair. Judged by your peers for consideration. Sorta cool)
The author must PAY the peers £60 ($85ish) to read the manuscript. Each.

The author has to hand over £120/$170 (non-refundable) to be judged by someone that they don't know and who doesn't work for the publisher, to back the book.

Sure, they provide feedback to the author, and you are 'paying for their time', as the site puts it. I can think of fairer ways to do this.

This is what terrifies me.

I have never handed over money to someone to accept a submission. I never will. It is not something that I think is right, or fair.

I pay for services, not chances.

I strongly recommend that anyone considering to do something like this, think again, and think carefully.

Please be careful. The minefield is wide. It is deep.

... I'll be back.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Self Publishing

This year, myself and the blog are going to take on the world of self publishing. These days I see many authors self publishing - primarily ebooks - and I, as an author, am intrigued. But taking a quick look at the market proves without a doubt that whilst anyone can 'get a book out there', there seems to be a number of factors that affect the bottom line: Readership.

Many authors, artists, and small presses have agreed to be a part in what I expect to be a year long exploration.

So shall we begin?

No.

Before I begin, I just want to say that as I write each of these posts, I am learning. I am using this space to chronicle what I find, good and bad. That means that I might make horrible mistakes and stupid judgements at times.

Hopefully, in time, things will become clear, but for now, these opinions are only mine. And let's just say that there will be a fair amount of guesswork and assumptions to start with. 

What is Self Publishing?


To self publish a book means, in it's most basic term, to put it out for people to read, independently. That doesn't mean that the author has to charge for it.

There is free flash on this site. I have not granted my permission for you to say that you own a copy of it, and therefore you cannot purchase it. I won't be talking about this type of self publishing in these posts (although I might do one later on the legalities of such).

For the purpose of these posts, let us assume that when I talk about self publishing, I'm going to be talking about putting work out for others to purchase perhaps from a third party store (like Amazon, but more on that later), or perhaps from your own site (say, as a PDF download).

I'd like to define a word first.

Purchase:

When you download a free kindle book from Amazon, you are still purchasing it. To attain a book from a reseller or store is to purchase it. Even if you are purchasing it for $0.00. There are legal reasons why this term is used, but for now, trust me. When I talk purchasing, I'm not always talking cold hard cash.

Should We Self Publish?


Yes.

Not so long ago self publishing was seen as the last desperate act of a failure. I've seen the term vanity publishing used. A while back self publishing was seen only as a tool for someone to use who couldn't find an agent, a press, or a publisher to take their work.This stigma is no longer attached.

Sure, I want a publishing house to grab my latest work with both hands and pull on it. But I have no qualms with pushing my own wares.

And why not?

Gone are the days where you could only purchase a book from an honest-to-god 'shoppe', you know, full of paper. Going are the days where people purchase books on paper (and yes, it does pain me to say that).

I write a book, a tale, a short, a tome... within hours it can be available to buy globally. Listen to that word: GLOBALLY. Hell, yeah.

With self promotion and marketing tools at our finger tips, the digital world a web of wideness, hey, with companies like Lulu you can be in print at Amazon - self published. Through KDP you can be on kindle... the list goes on.

Do I sound excited by this?

But Really, Should We Self Publish?


Again, yes. Well, actually that depends.

The next post will cover the things that I am trying to cover before I look at self publishing: The Story.

So, as, 'Being an Author' would say... 'Til next time...


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Death in the Times of Madness: A Review

I actually know author Michael S. Gardner of old. 

And his stuff is creepy. Not for the faint of heart. 
This work...
is... not... for... children...

Michael S. Gardner: Death in the Times of Madness
Yeah, And you've gotta love that cover too.

Death in the Times of Madness is a collection of short stories. They go from odd to creepy, from mind bending to truly terrifying. With stories stretching from touching zombie tales, to apocalyptic time travel, there is certainly something for everyone.

Michael has a great ability to extract emotional responses from the reader.

Taking one of my favorites - Times of Trouble - the reader is led on an emotional, not long, but complex, story, which reminds me of the classic story "-All You Zombies-" by Robert A. Heinlein. The actual concepts presented in the piece are not the focus. Yes it is a time travel story. But more importantly - like much of the writing in the collection - Michael's focus is people.

You don't learn about time travel, you learn about people dealing with things far beyond the need for your own comprehension. You don't experience a zombie apocalypse, you experience people fighting for their lives against an unstoppable foe.

Michael writes people.

People you like. People like you.

If you want a great read on the fly - and for a mere .99c - at Amazon US, or for .77p at Amazon UK.

But you could go all out and get it on paperback, hey, it's still a bargain!


Paperback:

Amazon US

Amazon UK


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Being an Author: Rejection


Rejection is a good thing.

(Shut up... down in front!)

It is. Really. I have received rejection. It is common amidst writers. But why do I say it is a good thing?

Rejection means growth.


And I'm not just saying rejection from publishers and presses. Rejection can come in many different forms. True, that can be from a submission to a call. But it is more than that. It is when your beta says, "No, dammit! That's donkey balls!" It is when your peers say, "Andawhatnow?" It is when an Editor says anything that starts with the word 'unfortunately'.


Look at it this way:

Every time you ask someone to judge your work, you are basically putting yourself to the test.

When you fail the driving test, you buck up and try harder next time. 

Writing is the same.

When I submit to anyone - unless I pre-warn them that it is first draft type material (beta etc.) the work should be good, cleaned, polished. Hey - it's never perfect. But it shouldn't have piles of glaring errors in it. This comes from rejection.

If my tale weens a complicated path - too complicated - I rein it in next time. Try to make it easier to follow. This comes from rejection.

Rejection makes you a better writer, and that's what we all want, right?

Without rejection, you cannot learn. If you cannot learn, you cannot improve. 

My last rejection was pretty much a form letter (one that is sent to many writer's with no personal feedback). It is hard to learn from that, but if you keep getting them from a story, then perhaps it is the story. Not the people rejecting it. 

If you have received a form letter rejection it is unusual - and unlikely - that the sender with open into a discussion with you over the reasons. And to be honest, it's rarely because they don't want to tell, or talk, to you, but rather they don't want the abuse that experience tells them they are likely to receive when a fickle writer is told, "It simply doesn't make sense." I take people's opinions on board - I learn from it. Many do. 

Some writer's will turn around to an Editor and thread them a line of expletives over a genuine reason for rejection. No one needs that. So they shy away from opening a dialogue.

That's when if you want to know the truth, you must ask for it from someone else. 

I edit/proof sometimes, and I always try to be honest to a fault with feedback. Whilst it might massage someone's ego, me saying is all awesome and such, it won't do them any good. 

And hey, a rejection from me over a few lines here and there, makes for a better rejection that the one shot deal you get with a publishing house. Right? 

'Til next time...