Well, I knew this was coming. When I was getting close to finishing my novel, and began to investigate the business side of the publishing industry, this was certainly one term that cropped up time and again.
Rejection. “Deal with it,” is the advice repeated as often as suggestions such as “rewrite” or “edit” or “make it sing.”
Such is the nature of publishing. This, I knew.
Still, the first several rejections from literary agents have been painful. Not agonizing, mind you. Nothing like the time my appendix ruptured. Or the first failed loved affair.
But I guess you can’t completely brace yourself against injury; some of the shock is bound to get through.
Here’s the back story: I finished my first novel, historical fiction set in Perugia, around Christmas time. Written, edited, polished. Then, I began the process of looking for a literary agent to sell it (with a little luck) to a publisher.
Helpfully, many agents and ex-agents have blogs where they write a great deal about the process of querying agents, going into useful detail about how to write a one-page query letter; how to attract an agent’s interest; and, of course, how the odds are greatly stacked against a new writer.
The consensus? Don’t take rejection personally!!!
Many writers have also discussed, online, their experiences. Some devise spread sheets to help the writer keep track of the 100s (gulp!!) of query letters to agents, what the responses are (negative, or the spreadsheet wouldn’t be necessary), who to scratch off your list, etc.
But the stories can be awfully discouraging. One local author recently described how she had sent out 150 query letters and was rejected every time. Then, she ran into the mystery writer Ian Rankin at a pub during a writers’ conference. The upshot was, he recommended this author to his publisher and his agent, and now she’s published.
Which illustrates another point everyone makes: the stars have to be perfectly aligned for success. Even if the novel is brilliant, the query letter is perfect, sent to the right agent who specializes in the author’s genre, it can still amount to nothing. Unless the stars are just right.
So, I’ll press on. Twenty query letters sent, seven rejections, a few who should have answered by now and haven’t which must mean “no, thanks.”
This also means that it’s about time for me to compile another list of 20 agents to query and get those letters out.
Also, it’s time to treat my tough hide with an extra coat of insouciance (also known as “whatever!”)
And also time to write about the experience in this blog, which I’m slowly turning into a writing/travel blog.
But most importantly, it’s time to really sink my teeth into work on a new novel, to keep myself happy and busy with my favourite occupation (that would be writing) to keep from obsessing on rejection.
(Oh, and planning a trip to Italy -- another wonderful distraction.)