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Archive for the ‘Rejection’ Category

It’s no secret my goal is to find the right agent.  There is also no hiding the fact I’m an impatient person.  Working on the same goal for over four years can get tiring/frustrating/hopeless/desperate/overwhelming/discouraging.  There are often days I wonder if it’s ever going to happen.  Dori’s re-energizing slogan “just keep swimming” plays on repeat in my head.  The volume has to be cranked up pretty high to get over the “you’ll never do it” white noise on a constant stream through my subconscious.  Fortunately during my insecurity party, my 8-5 job reminded me why there have to be no’s to one day have a yes.

My day job is not usually something I talk about on the interwebs.  I make this exception because last week I experienced what it felt like to sit on the other side of the query letter.  Not literally, of course.  My assignment was to hire eight new employees for my company.  This put me in the position to decide on the right people with the right skills.  A similar situation to agents when a query shows up in their slush.

Finding the right eight people starts with hundreds of applications.  The first passed over are the ones with unrelated experience.  They may have work experience, but not in the field we’re looking for.  This reminds me of the writers who don’t query the right agent or follow the query guidelines.  They are the easy no.  Next applicants out of the running are the ones who can’t pass the testing.  They represent authors whose writing in the first pages isn’t there yet.  This group gets a form rejection from an agent or, in my situation, no interview.

The interview round brings the forty who show potential out of those couple hundred applicants.  These represent the few writers who get a full or partial request.  There’s so much hope on both sides.  I entered each interview hoping to find the right match for my department.  I didn’t have any predetermined ideas to say no.  I certainly wasn’t trying to flex my ego muscles with being a gatekeeper.  My company needs great employees to be successful and that’s what I wanted to find.

In that small crammed room, I realized how true it is when agents feel bad about “this isn’t for me” in a rejection.  Applicants and writers have hopeful and high expectations.  On some you can smell the desperation.  They want it so bad, but you know it’s not going to happen.  The love isn’t there.  Sure, I want good things for them.  I wished I could hire everyone.  The reality is the position I’m hiring for isn’t the one that’s going to bring them happiness.  And it’s soooo subjective.  Just like a novel.  When agents say they have to love it, I understand it now.  I love my company too much not bring in the best people.  I want the applicants to give me the right feels.  For me to have as much excitement in their potential as they have for what the position could bring.  Anything even slightly less isn’t doing anyone a favor.

While it can be heart-breaking to sit on the rejected side, as it is for those applicants who want to support their families, the person doing the rejection has pangs of sadness too.  It’s hard being the person who crushes someone else’s dream.  How can agents or interviewers do it?  We do it for them.  For the person who trusted us by sharing their book or their personal interview stories.  We’re saving them the struggle and heartache that will inevitably happen when things don’t work out, ie the book doesn’t sell or the employee is fired.  We say no because we care.

A terrific lesson for my impatient mind.  An even better lesson for my gnawing doubt.  Rejection may come because I’m not ready yet.  Refining skills and working towards my 10,000 hours keeps me swimming even when it’s up stream.  I also know there will be the day when I connect with the right agent at the right time and we both know it’s meant to be.

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Recently, there have been some posts on my regularly visited blogs (Tawna Fenske and dammit, I can’t remember the other) about how “not to” deal with rejection.  The sentiment was not to whine in public view when it happens to you.  (And yes, of course, it’s going to happen to you.  Although you may view your writing as indestructible as Superman, you’ll quickly discover rejection kryptonite leaves a mark.)  This got me thinking about when I started this process two years ago and the rejections which started rolling in after six months.  Did I handle it like a mature writer who knows it’s part of the process or did I whine and cry like a little baby?

Admittedly, I was a baby.

But aren’t we all when we start the process?  We write a novel with wide-eyed hope of seeing our name splashed across a hard back cover in some fancy font and sitting on the main display table of Barnes and Noble.  At that point we’re basking in the success of having a 70,000 word completed piece of work.  There were times it was a question if we’d even get that far.  But, we haven’t done any research, asked any questions, or done any hard work to find out about the business except for writing the damn thing.  (Which you soon realize is just the first step.)  If you have any questions if writing is for you, check out this blog.

Now, I know I went out to query waaaaay too early with my first book.  I did some research to find out I needed a query letter to get an agent and an agent to get a book deal.  I read through a few query examples on “Absolute Write” and composed a letter following the rules.  All I needed was for an agent to give me a chance.  Another naive thought from a writing adolescent.  The letters were sent with feverish pace to every agent I could find in one of those thick agent books.  

I got a couple partials and one full manuscript request from an evolving query letter.  The rejections from agents who had given my book a chance stung more than the generic mass mailing of “This isn’t for us…Good luck.”  But, I must admit my favorite rejection was my own typed letter back with a big “NO” written in pen across the front.  And while at the time I thought I was right to rant and rave about the process, I know now I was going through the teenage rebellion of my writing lifecycle.

The first mature thing I did in my young adulthood was shelf my first novel.  It was painful because I loved those characters and wrote a sequel to the first.  (Another rookie move.)  I hope one day when I am more mature, I’ll write them in the novel they deserve.  I submerged myself in the writing world by reading books on structure, following agent and author blogs, and understanding other parts of the business.  One example, is following my favorite agents’ reading chocies, writing preferences and clients’ books.  Right now it may look like I’m stalking Suzie Townsend’s reading list, but I’m doing my homework.  I’ve learned so much in the last year about the process that I won’t sabotage my latest work by being impatient or ill-informed. 

So how old am I?  A woman never tells.  Honestly, I’m not quite sure.  I’ve grown a lot and I can see the rejections for what they are…feedback.  (Okay, maybe I’m not that mature yet.)  I won’t brag I have a thick skin because I don’t.  I doubt I ever will.  It hurts when your piece is rejected, but isn’t it supposed to?  If it didn’t, I’d wonder how much passion I had for it in the first place.  But, does it mean I’ll fall on the ground in a fist-pounding, leg-kicking tantrum?  No, I can safely say I’ve outgrown that.

What about you?  How do you deal with rejection?  What stage are you in of your writing life?

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The Agony of Rejection

The title says it all.  Didn’t make it into the top 25.  Pity party commenced.  Will get out of funk…sometime.

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The query letter is a dreaded topic for any writer wanting to get an agent and then published.  I have read blogs where seasoned authors dreaded condenscing their gut wrenching novel into two paragraphs on a one page letter.  This being the letter that makes or breaks if you get an agent. 

I worked my letter for the original push of Crescendo.  I read the how-to’s and what should and shouldn’t be in it.  I studied the craft and wrote my first query letter.  Out of about 14 sent, I had one partial request, one full request, and mostly rejections.  I took a couple months off of querying and went back to studying.  I signed up for a blog site that has a category of “Query Letter Hell.”  I posted, got shredded by others, and went back to the drawing board.  Alas, I had another (and improved in my mind) version.  And so it was mailed out…

Here were are after about 10 more queries have been sent.  To date, I have about 6 rejections (which feel like 100) and one partial.  I’m back to the insecure, baffled stage of is it the query or the story?  Is it because I don’t have any vampires, fairies, or werewolves?  Is it because the letter falls flat and doesn’t sound like someone would want to invest a couple of days to read?  Or is it the reason I can not even discuss yet?

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More Rejections…

More heartbreak…trying to keep a stiff upper lip.

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