If I kept a spreadsheet — which of course I do — I could tell you exactly the number of times I’ve been rejected with “Finding Kate” — which of course I can.
I don’t want to.
I never kept that kind of information for the other two novels that I queried, but I promise you, it was similarly discouraging.
In the past few days, I got another rejection.
This is what it felt like.
Remember in the old days, when employers used to send out letters in response to resumes or after job interviews? You’d get one of those letters, and you’d skim down to the “Unfortunately…”
That’s how I do my first read of an email from an agent who has my writing sample. I’m looking for the bad news. Where’s the “unfortunately…”?
This email contained the metaphoric “unfortunately” along with a nice good luck pat on the back.
I wanted to hit something. Someone.
I read it again, this time actually reading more of the words.
I remained angry, because I felt his words mischaracterized my work. Also, I resented the implication that I had not already scoured the sample for those exact problems. Does he not understand how many times I’ve revised this damn thing, ESPECIALLY the beginning? ESPECIALLY the first few pages? ESPECIALLY the first page?
I stormed off to the kitchen sink and started angry-washing the dishes, muttering under my breath. I decided I need to get more freelance writing work and start making more money that way, because CLEARLY I am never going to publish a book. Ever.
Clearly my writing sucks and I am never going to find an agent who reads past the first three pages. Clearly I should just give up already. Why do I bother?
With water streaming over my hands, I wallowed good and sloppy. I even snapped at my kids. I’m sure they deserved it, though.
Then I went back and read the email again.
Hold on a second here.
This email was not a form rejection. This agent — a top person in the field, someone who represents a lot of great talent, someone who writes a blog that everybody reads, whose website says right there that he rejects about 99% of people who query, someone I’d be lucky to get to read my work at all — took a moment to give me some thoughts on what could be better.
That is huge, my friend. Monumentally huge.
He said he appreciated the chance to read my work. He offered me advice. He took time out of his ridiculously busy life to read it and then write back a personal email. He chose NOT just to hit send on a form letter, which is what agents do for 99% of stuff they read. So there was something about it that he liked enough to comment upon.
OK, whiny emotional side, quite griping and LISTEN.
Listen, learn, and keep going.