July 1, 2024

rejections, fast rejections, being positive
                                                                                                                                                                          Photo: Simran Sood


I am crushed whenever I receive a rapid rejection.  I'm talking about querying a manuscript and getting a rejection in a few hours after submitting it.  

This kind of a response feels personal even though I know it isn't.  It makes my goal of finding representation that more urgent.   

A speedy rejection gets me wondering:  How did the agent know so quickly that my submission was not for her?  Could she tell by looking at the title or word count?  Did she dislike the voice of the story?  The theme?  The message?  What made her decide so fast?  

Is it a magic yes-no radar some agents possess?  It must be because I've received a one-day reply from an agent who LIKED one of my manuscripts and wanted to read more of my work.  

The positive takeaway of a quick rejection lets me know right away this agent didn't connect with my work and I can go down my list and submit it to other agents.  Even still, it frustrates me.  I spend hours revising my manuscripts and the query letters and filling out the Query Manager forms.  So, receiving a rejection so quickly makes me feel like my writing and querying is a waste of time. 

However, I am grateful for the response.  In most cases, writers may have to wait up to 6 weeks or longer to hear back from an agent.  Sometimes, and quite often, an author will never hear back.  These days, no response means no thank you. In fact, many agents state on their guidelines that after X number of weeks the manuscript is no longer under consideration. 

So after the sting of a lightning-fast rejection wears off, I bounce back ready to submit again.  I'll peruse another agent's wish list to see if my manuscript might be something she's liked to see in her inbox.    

Easier said than done. 

Agents have to fall head over heels in love with the story and be able to sell it a publisher.  They have very specific openings on their lists for perfect fits.  Writers can get a sense of an agent's goals by studying wish lists and guidelines, but these merely hint at what the agent needs.  Writers don't know exactly what an agent's list looks like and how an agent wants to fill her list.    

The best thing a writer can do is try to make a very good match.  Take for instance the time I decided to send a manuscript that seemed to meet the needs of the agent.  My submission also included back matter for teachers (a good marketing approach) and sent it to an agent who had been an educator.

And the reply in less than two hours:  "Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, my picture book list is quite full so I have to be extra picky and this one just isn't a fit. Please know that this has nothing to do with your concept or the quality of your writing - I love what you've done here and wish I could represent every good book to come across my desk.  Don't let this discourage you. Another agent may feel differently and you deserve to have an agent as passionate about your work as you are."

Super nice rejection.  Personalized.  But, thought I had made a very good match.  Evidently not good enough.  

Negativity started to get me down.  At this low point I searched the internet to find how to deal with rejection and found I found Powerful Positive Thinking, a website where anyone can send a wish into the universe.  As silly as it may seem to some, I like having the opportunity to visualize success.  It feels empowering.  Nearly every day I make a wish.  But that's not all.  The creators of Powerful Positive Thinking insist we take action.  So, after making a wish, I work on my queries and my agent list.  I polish my manuscripts.  And I try not to compare myself to others.    

I believe in the quality of my writing.  So does my husband and my critique partners.  But when life delivers a knock, I begin to doubt my abilities.  Then I remember a rejection (no matter how fast it's received) is the universe's way of saying keep going.  Keep learning.  Keep envisioning success.  Sure, it would be easier to give up writing to avoid the pain of rejection.  But then, I'd never know.  The next submission could be the perfect fit.     

 À la prochaine!  

"Giving up is the only sure way to fail." Gena Showalter, author


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