Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rejection Still Sucks

By Angela Henry

About ten years ago, I wrote a column for an ezine called You Should Write! I happened to be going through some old email correspondence the other day and ran across one of the columns I wrote about writers and rejection. I was surprised at how timely what I wrote was even today as I find myself in a similar situation as I was almost a decade ago. I decided to post the column for anyone who may also be going through the submission process. And although I'm referring to agent submissions in this column, the same advice can be used for publisher submissions as well.

Taking the Sting out of Rejection


Angela Henry

Ah, I remember it well. Everyday when I got home from work I would eagerly approach the mailbox. Why? Well, I wasn’t expecting a love letter nor was I eager to look at what bills had come. I was looking for responses to the dozens of query letters I’d sent out to agents regarding my masterpiece. Did I get responses? Most definitely. Were they what I was expecting? Not at all! Form letter after form letter, some nice and others not so nice, all saying what amounted to the same thing. Thanks, but no thanks.

Rejection sucks! It can also hurt. No writer wants to endure rejection. It can make even the most confident and talented writers doubt themselves. But rejection is a reality that every writer must be prepared for. No matter how well written your work may be, you are going to experience rejection. However, you can take some of the sting out of rejection by remembering the following during your hunt for an agent.

1. Rejection of your work is not a rejection of you. In other words, don’t take it personally, though this may be very hard to do especially when we view our writing as an extension of ourselves.

2. Publishing is a business. Agents are only going represent work they feel they can sell. Just as publishers are only going buy work they feel will sell. Does this mean only the best books are being represented and your manuscript is crap if you can’t get an agent? No! There are a lot of talented authors who had to endure years of rejection before getting an agent.

3. Appearance does count. Anything you send to an agent should look professional and be free of mistakes. You don’t want to ruin your chances before you get a foot in the door by sending mistake filled illegible query letters. Believe me, it’s no fun sitting around wondering if things would have been different if you’d spelled the word tomorrow correctly. Yes, I’m embarrassed to say this actually happened to me.

4. Don’t get your heart set on one particular agent. You should compile a list of agents that appeal to you. That way you’ll avoid feeling like a complete failure if the one you had your heart set on passes on representing you.

5. Do your homework. Several of the rejections I received were from agents who weren’t representing my type of book, didn’t represent unpublished authors, or only acquired new clients through referrals from other clients or agents. In those instances I could have saved myself time, postage, and disappointment by paying more attention to the agency guidelines I had consulted during my search. Most listings will tell what the agent’s interests are. If they don’t represent a certain type of fiction it will say so in the listing and some listings will even tell what types of work the agent is most interested in.

6. Expect rejection, expect lots of it. If you expect to be rejected then any acceptances you get will be pleasant and unexpected surprises.

Copyright ⓒ 2001 Angela Henry



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