BAM! Right in the Soft Underbelly

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.

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

4 responses to “BAM! Right in the Soft Underbelly

  • Aura Eadon

    You made me smile with your post. Attempt #2 was good and entirely true (although the champion part is gag-worthy, agree). Oh and yes, I talk to myself all the time.

    I’m not querying yet because I’m still writing the books. Are you after agents or publishers? Both? Have you tried indie publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts? With agents I’m sure you’ll find the right person (champion? 😛 )

    Also, what do your beta readers think about your book?

    Finally, self-publishing is not a bad option. Yes, the logistics are a bit complicated but the traditional publishing industry is currently ailing and dying a slow painful death. They tend to regurgitate the same crap that will make them money. A new author is not favoured because they are not selling. Umm no, how can they? You aren’t helping by refusing to publish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • R. K. Brainerd

      I’ve been mostly focused on agents thus far, but have been expanding to include publishers more so. I really need to sit down and do another round of research – small publishers included. I’ve thought about indie or hybrid publishers and actually have a query out to one now, but I’m trying to be cautious. Firstly, because the main reason I’m aiming for traditional publishing at the moment is because of the support factor (be that what it may) and smaller publishers tend to rely on the authors for more things like marketing. And also, like all things, there are a lot of scam artists out there and I tend to get sucked into my own excited emotions. So must be careful.

      And oh yes. I know self-publishing is a wonderful option. I’m just scared of it and standing in my own way at the moment, ha! I’d hate to jump into it without knowing what I’m doing, because then I’d really flunk. I need a marketing plan, an editor, a cover design artist, etc, etc, etc… and I need money for that, too.

      So really what I’m saying is I need to develop a marketing plan for myself. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aura Eadon

        Yes, I totally agree and to be honest, your fears are my fears too. I’m simply not there yet. Marketing plan, editor (two editors? developmental and line?), cover artist, and then figuring out how to promote the book.

        I hope you get a positive reply soon. Crossing my fingers for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • R. K. Brainerd

        Thank you! I appreciate it. Good luck with your writing – and good luck when you reach the point of publishing.


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