So I wrote this post a few weeks ago, actually. Then the end of NaNoWriMo hit and #Pitmad, so it didn’t seem like the best time to post it. But now that those are over (though #SFFPit is coming up), I wanted to share my sarcastic ramblings on the subject of query rejections.
Recently I’ve been receiving responses to my queries in the realm of “You’ve got great talent” and “You obviously know how to create rich characters and plot” and “this reached the highest level of consideration” —
And it’s always followed by something along the lines of “but this project isn’t quite right for us.”
(You know that if a email starts with “Thank you for…” it’s going end with “…but unfortunately we’re going to pass/isn’t quite right for us/etc.” My brain now associates “Thank you for…” with “REJECTED, SUCKER!” – Yay! *blows raspberry*)
Now, in order to prevent the spiral of writing-self-loathing-doubt-black-pit-of-despair that is encroaching, I’m going spin all my doubts into positives for the world to see.
Cuz… evidently I don’t bare my soul enough with writing.
Okay. Okay, okay.
Pep talk attempt #1:
All of these things means I’m improving, right? I can’t glean much from a form rejection that’s along the lines of “this just isn’t right for us;” but coupled with the occasional real responses I’ve received, it has to mean I’m getting better. Right? Right. I’ve gotten compliments from those scary people in places of publishing authority. THEY LIKE SOMETHING ABOUT ME.
(Or maybe it’s just the law of “throwing enough stuff out there will eventually get a hit”.)
No! I will remain positive.
Pep talk attempt #2:
Instead of “I’m doing all this work and no one cares,” it’s that “I’m doing all this work and I’m improving and it’s showing.” Writers are always improving. The improving and re-writing and getting myself out there will be a part of the rest of my career, not just gaining attention from publishing authorities.
Now I’ve just got to get good enough for someone to actually love me.
What did I say about being positive!? Re-write that sentence!
(Yes, I talk to myself. Oh, don’t lie, you know you do too.)
Publishing is a subjective market, and what works for one person may not work for another. I have to find the right person to champion my work or it could result in an unhappy, unproductive relationship.
(Okay, gag, I kinda sounded like I was spewing a log-line there, even if it is true.)
Pep talk attempt #3:
I don’t need to garner the attention of publishing authorities in order to be worth something as a writer. My rampant need for respect and praise from people in authority is my own problem and has nothing to do with my craft and its journey of improvement.
Look at that!? —
I totally sound like a self-help book.
Pep talk attempt #4:
They’re really not trying to piss you off when they reply with a forum letter that holds completely unhelpful and vague things like “I’m just not the agent for you” and “not a good fit at this time.”
Like, what am I supposed to do with that, people? At least rip my story apart! Tell me how boring it is! Where did I go WRONG? I can’t do anything with “not a good fit.” There’s no where to go from there.
(Sigh. Yes, I know, you’re busy. I respect that. I truly, truly do.)
So instead of falling into the pit of despair, I’ll actively strategize my options. I’m terrified of the self-publishing option due to the necessity of completely relying on myself to edit/design/promote my work. But will I have to submit to defeating this terror if I turn to the self-publishing route because my story isn’t original enough to capture traditional publishing interests? You betcha!
(Do I need to come up with a marketing plan anyway because it’s a good idea and will only help? That too!)
So until the day I decide to turn to self-publishing because there’s no way to improve on “it just isn’t right for us,” I’ll continue on. Keep plugging away at the queries, of course. Keep writing. Keep researching agents and publishers. Participate in twitter pitching contests. Try to keep my spirits up.
Is anyone else having a difficult time keeping their spirits up in the face of unhelpful rejection? What do you do when you feel like giving up?
P.S.: I use the word “publishing authorities” in a self-deprecating manner in regards to my rampant desire for praise from people in positions of power. I am well aware there are MANY different authorities on publishing, in the realm of non-traditional publishing and beyond, and the use of the term here is not meant as a slight in any sense.