Being a writer, a gentle, artistic and creative soul, rejection is sometimes even more difficult to bear. You put your blood, sweat and tears into a work, it is your baby, your muse, your everything. You spent days, weeks, months and sometimes years perfecting it. Everyone you've had read it says its incredible. Your mum, your sister, even your cranky old aunt.
You decide its time to show your talent to the world...you do your research, learn the lingo of the literary world. The art of the query letter, the mastery of manuscript formatting and synopsis writing. You have everything ready, and the possibilities seem endless.
You start out with a few chosen agents and or publishers. Of course, landing a deal with one of the big five (Random House/Penguin, MacMillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster) is the goal, but they do not accept manuscripts that have not come from an agent. A minor road block, you're sure. No doubt, the first agent you reads your premise will jump up, crying with elation, that they have finally found the book of their dreams.
Time passes. And then more time. And even then, a little more time.
Then the rejections start rolling in.
"Thank you for your query. Unfortunately, this isn't quite the right fit for me at this time."
You are disappointed, but don't lose hope just yet. Until the next round of queries, and the next, and the next, all returning with the same response:
Thanks, but no thanks.
It isn't an easy thing, to be rejected. Whether with writing, when applying for jobs, or in relationships, rejection sucks no matter the means. The key to moving forward and not giving up, is simple: learn to deal, make adjustments, and keep trying!
Here are a few tips that I have learned in my own pursuit of that elusive book deal that I found helpful, and thought I would share with those seeking the same proverbial golden egg.
1) Be realistic - No matter how much your mum and cranky aunt loved your book, you need to be realistic. You are not the worlds greatest writer. There is no such thing, in reality, as everyone's tastes are different. Checking your ego, and re-evaluating your goals and plans is the first step in this process.
2) Re-evaluate your goals - Not all of us are meant to end up with one of the big five. But there are countless other, smaller, equally as supportive and incredible publishers out there that you should consider. Look in to them, see what they have published, even contact some of their authors for a real, first hand account
3) DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! - I cant stress this one enough. There is NO more important step in this process than research, research, research. Look in to the agents and publishers you are considering. See their track record, the types of authors they support, the books they favor. Especially when looking directly to publishing and bypassing the agent route, make sure you are submitting to publishers who are producing the type of work you want. Do you want to see your book on store shelves? Then a digital only imprint is not for you. Want worldwide publicity? Then maybe a small, local imprint isn't the right choice. You need to have a firm grasp on who you are sending your work to. Because if they do offer you a contract, and you haven't done this work, you may be surprised to find a lot of what you wanted isn't offered.
4) Take a break - sometimes when you have been faced with countless rejections, with no change in sight, it is best to take a little break. Taking a step back from the process, distancing yourself and focusing on other things for a while will help you see clearly again. How long should you take? That depends on you. Sometimes a couple weeks...maybe a couple months. But staring at those pages you poured over so many times already isn't going to help when its all you've done for months. After clearing your mind and grounding yourself, you may be able to come back to your work with a new wave of focus and energy. During this break, read! Read other works that you love, read other authors who have written the same genre. This too will help you make adjustments to your own work and improve your writing.
5) Self Publish - this is always a viable option for any writer. The self publishing market is a force to be reckoned with, with some writers even making the NYT best seller list by publishing their own work. There are countless forums for this route; some you pay for, others you don't. Again, I refer back to #3 for this. Research your options here and find the one that is right for you
Obviously, this is just a short list of things to consider when trying to find publishing or agent representation. I have done all of the above, and am still doing them. My focus has changed from the big five (because lets be honest, its like the Oscars of writing to make it in with them) to smaller, but just as influential publishers. I have researched my options time and time again, making changes and adjustments based on my findings. I have spoken to other authors, and gotten direct feedback on routes to take, their opinions on agents and publishers, all of which have been incredibly helpful. I have made self published version of my work just for myself, so that even if nothing were to come of my lofty goals, I still have something tangible in my hand. And most of all, I took a break. That was the most clearing thing for me. Taking a two month hiatus from my laptop, from the writing community, from countless hours spent searching for the agent or house that may fall in love with my work. And it was the best decision I made. Because now, I can approach my work and my goals feeling renewed, with all the past rejections left behind me.
It is hard work trying to break in to the publishing world. But I am certain that then that big break finally comes, all the hours spent will be worth it.