July 17, 2011

Define Rejection (and make it work FOR you)

Rejection. I've given my pep talk on why rejection isn't so bad because it brings you to something better, but I've been thinking about it. You know what? I'm really weird.

Rejection isn't just something I get through. I actually look forward to the query process. The form letters don't tear me apart. They used to. Man, those stupid emails filled with 'no' used to sting. But I think I understand more about the publishing industry and about my own weaknesses that rejection isn't personal.

We've all heard that: it's not personal. It's not a rejection of you, it's a rejection of this book at this time.

But if that's what the form letter isn't, then what IS it?

I'm not sure if that makes any sense. You can't define something by defining what it's not. You can't say that 'black' means 'not white'.

So what IS rejection?

When I'm querying, I check my email every day (okay, MULTIPLE times a day) hoping to hear back from an agent. Of course, I'm hoping for The One, but even if it doesn't come, I love to get replies.

Because a rejection is information. It's an evaluation of your query letter and maybe your first few chapters. Some agents request five pages or three chapters, others just want the query. Pay attention to who requests what. (I keep notes on each query using QueryTracker.net.) Because if you're getting form rejections from all the agents who requested pages, but you're getting personalized rejections or even partial requests from agents that only saw your query letter, you've learned something. It's your writing, and not your premise.Your query letter is fine. It's the writing sample that was weak.

There are lots of things you can learn by paying attention to your rejections. If you get nothing but form rejections no matter what you send, then you know you need to write another book. Don't bother killing yourself trying to make this book perfect. It wasn't even close. Go back. Try again.

So, I think that's why rejections don't completely suck for me. A rejection isn't a 'No'. It's a "No, but..." or a "No, and..."

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