Sunday, November 11, 2012

The First Rejection


"Not right for me..."

"Thank you for your submission, but..."

No response means 'no'.

My first book is finished. I've had beta readers, of the friend variety, and CPs, of the brutally honest variety, read my manuscript and give me valuable feedback. Taking said feedback to heart, I've implemented numerous changes to my MS. Large portions of my book have been completely re-written, some even deleted. In other words, editing has been the nightmare I didn't expect.

When all of that was said and done, I was ready to query. Ah, the Q-word, the second most dreaded word for the unrepresented author ('synopsis' being the most dreaded).

Months of research, entering contests, attending online forums, and then more research brought me to the conclusion that my query was ready to be sent into the wide world of potential agents. Spending hours agonizing over the first email submission, I finally hit 'send'. That was five or so weeks ago.

During those five weeks I've paced, wrung my hands, gone back over my MS, and entered more contests. I've gotten my first request for a full manuscript (not as a result of querying - a contest, which I did not win, led a small press publisher's editor to request *smiles* *jumps up and down*). Still waiting, I've written another query from scratch - again - and re-written that one multiple times.

Many experienced eyes have perused the new query, given me advice, helping me perfect it - again. I've watched online videos of agents giving advice on how and when to query. Researching even more about queries, I have done everything in my power to make sure my query will be the one that twinkles in the light, drawing the attention of an agent digging through their slush pile.

Then it happened.

I woke up Thursday morning, bleary eyed. After I woke the children for school, I grabbed a 'cuppa Joe'. Then cranking up the old laptop, I sucked down Joe and all that wonderful caffeine, steeling myself to open my email.

There it was.

My first response from an agent.

I waited for my heart to stop flip-flopping in my chest. Opening the email, with one eye closed, the other squinting so tight I could barely see, my lungs were a paralyzed mixture of fear and excitement.

It was a very polite form rejection. I read it, and then re-read it.

Waiting for defeat to overwhelm me, I tweeted my lovely tweeps about getting my first rejection. Those same lovely tweeps tweeted back with much encouragement. Still I waited for the crushing blow to fall on my head.

It didn't happen. Surprisingly enough, thanks to all that research, reading other author's stories of how they 'made it', and the tons of blog posts, by agents and authors alike, on how to look at a rejection, the experience as a whole wasn't as painful as I'd expected.

No, I'm not complaining. I'm 'sharing' so other authors, like myself, can see that hitting 'send', with all the excitement and terror it brings, doesn't have to lead to defeat when they receive the first rejection letter.

It's just one agent.

She was very nice and I'm certain she's a fantastic agent who knows what she wants, it just so happens, my book didn't fit her taste of the moment. Turns out, I'm okay with that. The agent who 'lurves' my book will be the agent I want anyway. The other agents out there who have yet to reply either positively or negatively, well, they will eventually get around to my query. If they don't get excited about it that's all right by me. There are other agents to send my queries to.

As a matter of fact, I did just that. I sent out another query (sort of that whole 'get back on the horse' thing - hey, I'm from Texas, there's a horse metaphor for almost any situation). Plus, I began researching yet another agent to send a query to later today. No matter how many times I have to climb back on that horse, I will.

I will send a query to every single literary agent in the English speaking world, if I have to, in my quest to fulfill my dream and get this damn book published. Rejections will not stop me, by golly! I'm committed (not in the men-in-the-little-white-jackets way of being committed, although someday that could be a possibility) to the W.I.T. program for publishing. Whatever. It. Takes!

I encourage you to get on the W.I.T. program, too.

I'm going to create a badge for my blog and website, the W.I.T. program for author's badge. Check back soon to pick it up for yourself! While you're here, share your experience about your first rejection, how it made you feel and what you decided to do with that. If you haven't gotten that far, tell us how you expect it to affect you and how you hope to handle it.


  1. I've had many rejections by now, the most recent of which have caused me to question my entire manuscript. Wondering now whether it's even worth it to keep querying it. I've done so many rewrites now, I don't know if the story is even worth saving. I may self-publish it, because my CPs and beta readers LOVE the story, but there are problems with it that agents see that they don't so... I'm setting it aside for a while and focusing on my new WIP. We'll see what happens! Not giving up on my writing in any case! :)

    1. Never give up. That would be so sad. Keep at it,eventually your dream can come true.

  2. What a lovely, inspiring post. If there is one thing I have learned about rejections, it is this - they happen. You can't take it personally, you can't give up. I must admit - I am that writer who WEPT over her rejections. But experience taught me that even my favourite writers have had their fair share of knockbacks.

    I have written many books over the last 16 years. I have queried many and had many, many, MAAAANY rejections. When I finally got the agent of my dreams...every single rejection was WORTH IT. Remember, rejections will not last forever if you keep writing, learning and submitting.

    I think, with 16 years of querying behind me, I can safely say the answer is DO NOT GIVE UP and know that the right agent match for you is like a little slice of heaven when it finally happens...and it is worth the wait!

  3. I really don't miss querying! It's brutal. For me, rejections always hurt at least a little, but I just pushed through and eventually got my yes. You will too!

    1. Thanks Sharon, I know so many aspiring authors look to you for inspiration and you are such a great mentor to so many of us. Thank you for your encouragement!


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