“I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”--Sylvester Stallone
"I wrote for twelve years and collected 250 rejection slips before getting any fiction published, so I guess outside reinforcement isn't all that important to me."
--Author: Lisa AltherAs any author or aspiring author can vouch for, rejection comes with the territory. Nevertheless, unless you've somehow managed to develop skin of cast iron (which you should), even knowledge of the inevitable is not enough to soothe the sting. All my life, I did my best to avoid rejection. I never asked out guys I had crushes on; I never tried out for sports teams that I didn't know I would make; I never took any kind of risk. I was content to remain in my own little protective bubble. However, as I grew older--to the ripe old age of 27--I realized that perhaps what I perceived as contentment was really just complacency. My life was/is great, but I was denying myself of a passion that I've had since childhood: writing. Why? Because I didn't think I was good enough for it to take me anywhere. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. The point is, one shouldn't just cast their dreams aside due to their fear of the unknown. This brings me to my blog topic for today: Rejection.
Over the last year (I know, I know, I'm a newb), I've learned to deal with the consequences of chasing my dreams through the harsh waters of query rejections and the brutal blow of a rejection to a full manuscript. I haven't sent out that many queries and I'm really debating between querying and epublishing (that's a blog for another day). But, from the rejections to the queries I've sent out, I've both received and have come up with some DOs and DONT'S on how to handle it.
8. Save them-Most people want to ball up each and every rejection letter and discard them from their memory as though they never happened. I, on the other hand, prefer to save mine in a nice, neat, ever-expanding manilla folder. I save them to remember not to become too comfortable with my writing; I save them as learning tools; I save them to remind myself that taking a risk is always worth it even if it doesn't pan out in the end. Finally, I save them as I hope to be able to look at them one day--ten, twenty years down the road--when I'm published and need a reminder about where I've come from.
Some ways to increase your success with agents (I'm still in the process of perfecting these):
1. Research-Know the agent you're querying. Become familiar with what genre they represent, what authors they've represented, what their particular tastes are, etc. For instance my unpublished manuscript features a strong, female protagonist. While doing reasearch, I found an agent repping my genre who was looking for works featuring a strong female protagonist. You can bet your ass I sent a query to her mentioning that specific statement. Invest in a subscription to Writer's Digest or borrow reference sources such as the Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents, Guide to Literary Agents or Writer's Market. Those are excellent resources that will assist in pointing you in the right direction.
2. Put work into your query-The agents you selected aren't going anywhere. Don't rush through a query letter as though they're going to turn into a pumpkin at midnight. Put the same amount of thought and work into your query as you did your manuscript . You may have a killer manuscript but if your query sucks, that probably won't matter.
3. Don't come across as too pretentious-It's great to have confidence in your writing, but if you try to sell your novel as the next big thing, you're more than likely driving the final nail into your coffin.
I hope you all had a Happy Easter. As always, I would love your thoughts on anything in this post--whether you think I'm right or out in left field. Don't worry, I don't bite.