Rejection is inevitable when writing professionally. With thousands of books in book stores, online and in libraries, it’s tempting to feel “good writers” never get rejected. It’s not true. Your favorite NYT Bestselling authors had first drafts, revised those drafts multiple times, were told their material wasn’t “a good fit,” and revised again.
They kept writing.
Professional rejection by agents and publishing houses is not personal, and it happens to every single writer.
Still, rejection feels like a punch to the gut.
“Not a good fit.” That’s OK!
You poured you soul into your manuscript for months and even years. Late nights, the same sweat pants for days, and you’re finally ready to submit your manuscript to your dream agent. You research Dream Agent, their #MSWL (manuscript wish list), and you just know that Dream Agent is going to beg to represent you.
You craft the most epic query letter to grab Dream Agent’s attention, quadruple check the submission requirements, and hit send. And then you wait. And wait some more.
On a random Tuesday, Dream Agent replies to your query (maybe! Sometimes no response means a pass, more on that another time), and it’s a standard “This is not a good fit for me at this time” response.
You’re shocked. Stunned. But take heart! It simply means that there’s another agent who would be a better advocate for your material.
I’m an analytical, practical natured person, and used spreadsheets to track my queried manuscripts.
I was rejected 154 times before I was offered representation.
They aren’t rejecting you. They’re passing on this manuscript at this time.
You pitch this manuscript to other agents or you revise. But how do you know what to change? What didn’t Dream Agent like?
First, joining a critique group can be one of the most invaluable resources to both new and established writers.
Authors spend hours in solitude hoping to reach the masses. Ironic, isn’t it?
Critique groups pull out the strengths in your manuscript and your writing and call out spots needing improvement. They’re a fresh – but critical – eye who support your efforts and sympathize with your hardships. Invaluable.
Secondly, read. As Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Who’s writing do you like? And even better, whose writing don’t you like… and why?
Use these examples to bolster your story telling arc, character development, and plot. And revise some more.
Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this. — Roald Dahl
Keep Your Spirits Up
You don’t need to be published to be a writer. If you write, you’re a writer. Find a community or organization who loves writing like you do, and surround yourself with those who sympathize with the publication path.
Remind yourself why you love writing. Even though being published is a bucket list item for most us, dreaming about it and working for it are two entirely different things. You already know how to work hard and plow through doubts. Keep doing that. Keep doing what you know how to do – write.
One random day – just as random as that rejection letter you got? – you’ll get the call from new Dream Agent, and the emotional ebb and flow that comes with writing will ALL have been worth it.
Keep going. I’m cheering you on.