I write a lot about rejection because I *think* a lot about rejection. I’m on both the giving and receiving end of it almost every day, after all.
On any given day, I receive about 20 to 50 queries. I just checked and so far today I’ve received 18. Most them will be rejected, not because they are necessarily “bad” or unworthy somehow, just because for whatever reason (and I’ve blogged about this before), they weren’t right for my list. I don’t exactly know what my request percentages are, but I think I probably request more than many other agents, I think it’s part of my optimistic nature to do so. It’s so hard to tell from a query and ten pages what the potential of a manuscript is and so I often ask to see books that I’m a bit on the fence about. And I have definitely offered representation for titles that I have initially been unsure about.
But you guys know all about this, and if you are an aspiring writer reading this blog, you may have even been on the receiving end of a rejection from me or from one of the other agents here.
This is what I want you to know about this: we don’t like rejecting manuscripts! Nothing makes me happier than requesting a manuscript, loving it, offering representation and then selling it. It’s not a happy process to turn people down all the time and I don’t know a single agent who does like it. And here’s what I also want you to know about this: we understand rejection and we know how hard it is and how much it can hurt because we also get rejected ALL THE TIME.
In the past few months, I have offered representation to two authors who I thought were absolutely terrific. Both of them had multiple offers of representation and both of them went with other agents. So not only I got rejected, but a bunch of other agents got rejected. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time for any of them and it won’t be the last time for any of us.
So there’s that kind of rejection. Then, consider this: I have never, not in 20 years, sold a book that didn’t receive multiple rejections in addition to the offer or offers of publication that it received. Even when I sell a book at auction, and there are multiple bidders, there are always also multiple passes. Sometimes it takes two or three rounds of submissions to sell a book, in fact, and I can get up to 20 or 30 passes before I sell something. So even the “success” stories are full of rejection.
And here is what I have learned from all this rejection. The very most successful authors and agents I know do not get fazed by rejection. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it sucks. But if you don’t personalize it (it’s your book that got rejected, not YOU, is one helpful way to look at it), and you keep up the good fight, every single day, and you just keep trying as hard as you can, you are going to succeed. I truly believe that. I have certainly been laid low by rejection. It’s battered at my confidence, I’m not going to lie. But I have never, ever let it defeat me. And I want all of you reading this to promise yourselves that you won’t let it beat you either. Believe in yourself even when it feels like no one else does. I am rooting for you!