The first time is always the worst. I don’t think you ever get completely hardened to it.
You send all your hopes and dreams off out into the world and expect the world to instantly be dazzled by their worth and startling beauty. To recognize their barely disguised merit – ‘cos if there’s one thing you’re not going to do it’s hide your light under a bushel.
Instead the world flicks you off its tabletop like a ten day old mouse dropping with the smallest of sneers.
If you’re lucky.
Most of the time the world doesn’t even realize you’re there and merely brushes you away accidentally along with all the other crap and detritus that has built up around its privileged higher echelons.
My latest novel, The Great Escapes Of Danny Houdini, received its first rejection slip yesterday.
Polite, polished and perfunctory.
Simply not what the agent was looking for.
This particular agent dealt with writers who guarantee a huge audience and generate a good income. Or so it said between the lines. Well, duh! If I’d known that I’d’ve sent my novel to an agent who was looking for little or no success and hoping to earn just enough to buy a baked potato from the marquee operating in the square outside.
*slaps head in frustration*
So it’s back to the drawing board. Back to the writer’s yearbook to pull another random rabbit out of a bottomless, unknowable pit of a hat. There’s so many to choose from and you never know you’ve chosen the wrong one until you’ve paid for the postage, sent off your novel and they write back to tell you so.
They want this, that and the other – not what you have presented them with. But they’d like you to try somewhere else because another agent might see things differently.
Normally I can cope with the rejection. I’ve become pretty immune to its bloodsucking effects over the years. But sometimes, just sometimes, it sneaks a punch in below the belt. Wallops your tenders like a couple of cathedral bells at a Royal wedding.
It gets you when you’re at your most weakest...
When you’re at your most hopeful.
I knowwwwww I know I know. I won't list all the things your rational, professional, business-logic mind *does* know. For now, it smarts. I just wish it hadn't have come back to you right now.
That is all.
I wonder if JK Rowling kept all the rejection slips she got. If she framed them and put them on display, it would make the agents who rejected her look like right plonkers.
Don't give up!! Have you thought about self publishing and making it an e-book.
Being Me: yep. Timing is everything. It's smarting like a good 'un right now. But I feel better already for having got it off my chest. I'll print it all off again at the weekend and send it somewhere else... already got a prospective agent lined up.
Gorilla Bananas: I plan to hang mine above the toilet. Trouble is I now need a toilet suite of the kind you find in plush hotels.
Vicky: I have and am still toying with the idea but the mad man in me still wants to make it by the traditional route.
Keep on keeping on. I enjoyed what I read. Is self publishing an option? It'll happen in the end, you'll get there.
don't give up. don't you fucking dare give up! Or I will come and kick your arse. i mean that. Chin up old boy, you can totally do this. xxx
Kelloggsville: I keep paying lip service to self publishing and e-publishing but when it comes to actually doing it I am highly resistant. However, I can feel my grip relaxing... it might have to be an option so I can at least have the balm that someone somewhere is reading my work.
DON'T give up Steve. Remember all the world famous books that got rejected time and time again before they were finally published and became classics.
Lord of the Flies.
Just keep going.
If I didn't know you but saw your book in a shop, with its catchy intriguing title, I would want to pick it up and read it. And I wouldn't be disappointed as I loved it. Keep believing in it. I do.
Heather: nothing like the threat of violence to keep me going! ;-)
Gappy: I know. I know. I keep telling myself that rejection is good for the soul but...
Trish: that's very kind - thank you.
Getting something published must be like seeing a child face a milestone exam.......
seeing it "fail" must be heart breaking
so sorry mate
I can only echo all of these very intelligent people's sentiments - don't give up! Anyway, self publishing is the future!
shite! what do they know? it's a great read and as Trish said if you saw it in a bookstore you'd be intrigued enough to pick it up and then, you'd have to buy it once you looked it over.
cos it's good that's why.
don't give up.
you will get there.
Steve, give Authonomy a bash. There's a wealth of experience on there and loads of people who have experience of what agent is looking for what genre of book. It can't hurt.
John: cheers... all you can do is dust yourself off and throw yourself back into the ring.
Very Bored in Catalunya: the way things are going it could very well be my future...
Clippy Mat: thank you for the massive boost of confidence and the marketing feedback!
Wylye Girl: I may very well do that - thanks!
I know you are honest as the day is long but if I were you I'd just bung out about fifty submissions - just do the ones that accept email submissions. You can even tell them you are sending your novel to multiple agents. That way you really increase your chances... and I am sure you will find one who is interested! Good luck
Rejection slips? pah...you will only receive so many and then the tide will turn..you wait.
EmmaK: never thought of trying that though to be honest most of the agents in my trusty writer's yearbook seem to prefer paper submissions...
Libby: thank you for your faith!
I'm sorry to hear that, but I guess a thick skin is what's needed.
Going direct to smaller publishers can be a good idea too.
I always think they should explain more than 'not for us' or similar. I'm getting the same reply from newspapers...But then i guess they might get themselves into trouble.
Have you tried mentioning your blog in your cover letter? It can really make a difference if you show an agent / publishing house that your writing has already found an audience that keeps coming back for more, leaving praising comments, etc.
Also, it might be an idea to find out who the agents of your favourite authors are. Sometimes, authors thank their agents in their novels, which makes them easy to find. If not, it can be worth it contacting a writer you admire through Facebook. Imagine you really really loved Corpsing by Toby Litt. He's on Facebook, and I imagine he will gladly accept a friend request if it's accompanied by some fan mail. When he responds to your message, you can respond to that praising him again and explaining how his novels inspired you to... (this is where you pitch your novel in one line). And ask if he can recommend any agent that might be interested in fiction in that genre.
Remember, once you've got an agent, you're stuck with him/her for a long time, so it's just as important that (s)he's the right one for you as that you're the right one for them.
Do you know a friendly computer geek who could make you a trojan which would sneak your magnus opus onto every computer, iPad, Android and Computer Cloud in the Universe.
You could then earn huge fees deleting it on request!
Mark: in my experience small publishers tend to be even more choosy... however, I'm not ruling anybody out at the moment.
About Last Weekend: some rejections I have had do go into detail... and that is invaluable. Most just don't have the time.
Deborah: the barrier that I have found is that most of the popular agents - the ones my favourite authors use - are all "full" at the moment. Not sure if that's a result of the current economic climate or not.
Marginalia: thanks for the suggestion, Dr Evil.
A good friend of mine is a writer, David Treuer, and he had something like 80 rejections before being accepted. AND he was mentored by Toni Morrison (so he had connections). He's now had several novels published.
That's not meant to be depressing, it's meant to give you stamina. Keep going forward, it's the only way you'll get there. We're all pulling for you!
Michelloui: 80? Gosh that's sobering. Onwards and upwards, eh? I hope I don't have to break the 80 record to get there though!
I can empathise, and I'm sorry. Rejection of something we have put our hearts and soul into can be painful. I am also very cross with myself because I still haven't read it. There is something about reading on the computer which puts me off, but I will start to read it this weekend. Please don't give up.
Suzanne: I know what you mean, I am the same and printing stuff off all the time can be expensive... thank God for Kindles!
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