Sunday, May 22, 2011

Waiting For the No

I sent out my first ever set of queries to agents back on March 7th. And while at times I feel like I'm waiting for nothing, I have learned a couple things in the past few months.

1-There is a such thing as a good rejection: I've had lots and lots of those form rejections (who hasn't?), but I've also had a handful of rejections that gave me just enough feedback to confirm that my writing is good enough to be publishable, even if maybe this particular story wasn't their cup of tea. And while a rejection is still a no, there are those that make you want to keep going.

2- There isn't really any such thing as a bad rejection: Like I said, a rejection is a no. It doesn't move your career along any further. It leaves you right where you started. But it also doesn't put you in a worse position that you were in before. Don't get me wrong, the first couple were hard. They evoked that lovely punch-to-the-gut feeling that's usually reserved for deaths and large roller coasters. I still get that sinking feeling when there's an email in my inbox from one agency or another, but it doesn't bother me so much anymore. Because the truth is, the rejections don't hurt anything but your pride. There's no limit to the number you can get before someone says 'yes.' I'm not using up chances. Even the most ridiculously vague ones that leave you doubting everything about your story--they don't actually do anything but leave you right where you were before.

3-When an agent says they will read your full "this weekend" or "soon" or "right away," what they really mean is "sometime this year, maybe, if I get around to it. Or maybe that's what they just mean when they tell me that. All I know is that they seem to have their own special version of time.

4- Patience is a virtue I do not posses. Oh, wait. I knew that one already.

5-The thing that makes the wait for rejection bearable is writing: People tell you this, but you don't really realize how true it is until you're on your second month of waiting (like I said, no patience) and you realize that no one is ever going to take your manuscript, and what are you going to do now? You come up with another one, so you can start the whole thing again.

How about you? Are you waiting for The Call? What do you do to keep your sanity when the email dings? What has rejection taught you?


Carla Swafford said...

Waiting is hard and so frustrating. That's why I have ten books completed. A lot of waiting.

I think that's part of why I got involved in writing contests. Then again, you have to wait for results on those too. At least, you're guaranteed to hear something back from them. LOL!

Lexi said...

Rejection sucks and so does the interminable waiting that goes with the business of being published. I've got 145 rejections under my belt. Don't give up! You will get there.

Anne Gallagher said...

Ah, the waiting. I've been waiting so long, sometimes I forget what it is I'm waiting for. Which is why, writing the next books is fundamental. I don't worry about waiting any more.

Heather said...

In my lawyer job, I have to make decisions every day about which cases to accept and decline. I know how much it hurts and disappoints a potential client when I tell them I can't represent them. Delivering that news really stinks. There are lots of cases where I am on the fence, and it takes forever to make a decision on those. There have been several cases I passed on that other lawyers turned into gold (and vice versa). Case selection is all about finding the argument you can make passionately and effectively. It is a more subjective process than many people appreciate. I can't imagine it is different for agents and editors. While hearing no hurts, it moves you to the place you need to be. After all, can you imagine how the story would go if Goldilocks sat in the chair that was too big, eating porridge that was too hot while planning to sleep in a bed that was too lumpy?

Lisa Dunick said...

Carla- So true, but at least w/ contests you know when it's coming!

Lexi- I'm slowly but surely marching my way through rejections.

Heather- I can imagine it's hard. I've been auditioning/applying for some intern jobs at agencies and presses, and having to go through and make a decision like that is tough! It goes to prove just how subjective the whole business of being published is

Gwen Hernandez said...

Waiting is definitely hard (as are those rejections), so I try to send and forget and just worry about it when the answer comes in. It's the only way to keep my sanity.

And then I keep busy with the next project. Good luck with the waiting and the answers!