As a writer, you may think you have the market cornered on this. This is one job where you can plug away for twenty years without positive reinforcement from the industry. Then one day, everything changes. Instead of an endless string of no-thank-yous, you get a yes, please. That sale or signing with your agent may change everything.
But that first breakthrough doesn’t mean you’ll never hear the word “no” again. And you may not realize it, but agents get rejected as well. Sometimes a book pleases a lot of different agents at once. They all offer representation, but the writer only needs one agent. Which means the rest get a “thanks, but no”. If they really wanted that particular project, it can be crushing. Why didn’t the writer pick me? I thought we really connected on the phone and via email. Did you know agents have these kinds of mental conversations? They totally do.
Editors, too. I know, right? It’s kind of mind-blowing. But in fact, editors don’t always get the writers they want. Sometimes the budget is such, they just can’t offer enough money to tempt that person to sign on. Sometimes there are multiple offers on a book and the editor isn’t the chosen one. If this person loves the book enough to offer for it, this is going to be a disappointing outcome. It’s a great scenario for the writer whose book has engendered such massive love (and maybe it will be you!) but on the other end of your delightful dilemma, there’s a person with his or her fingers crossed. And you can only pick one person.
So the next time you get a rejection, remember you’re not alone. Other writers have been there. They’ve felt the sadness that this angle didn’t pan out, so maybe it’s time to try X or Y or maybe even Z. More to the point, agents and editors have been there too. They’re not unable to imagine what you’re going through. Chances are, at some point, they’ve been there. And they’re sorry, but whatever you have, it isn’t a good fit at this time.
That’s the point of my post, actually. We’re all humans before our jobs. It can be tough to remember, but it’s not personal. And it’s never too early to don your professional hat, take that rejection on the chin, and then pull yourself up by your bootstraps to implement plan B. If you really want this, you have to dig in and be prepared to go that extra mile. Nothing worth having comes easy. I feel that’s true in relationships and writing.
What are your favorite strategies for dealing with rejection?
Photo courtesy Flickr’s Brandon Christopher Warren