Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
After weeks, possibly months, of waiting for an answer to your submission, you receive a short, polite letter (or email) informing you that your project isn’t right for the agent or editor you were submitting to. Your hopes and dreams were resting on that publishing connection. You feel like you’ve been dumped. Even worse, this letter isn’t the first rejection you’ve received. So what are you going to do about it?
My advice to you: “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” Whenever I hear that quote, I think of Elmer Fudd and his neverending hunt to capture Bugs Bunny. That’s the kind of dedication you need to have to survive in the publishing “hunt.” Like Elmer, however, you need to try new, unique methods to catch that “wascally publishing wabbit,” and if you’ve started to collect a large pile of rejections, that’s a sign it’s time to try something new. Here’s what you can do…
If your query letter is rejected consistently, the reason could be:
#1: Your query letter. Perhaps you aren’t presenting your book the way you need to. Ask a few unbiased readers to look over your query and let them offer advice on how to make the letter clearer–or more exciting. Then take the best advice and revise accordingly.
#2: Your project idea. Perhaps your project isn’t quite right for the marketplace at the current time; consider revising your idea or shelving it and starting in on a new one.
If you have a pile of rejections from sending requested proposals or manuscripts, most likely your query letter presents your idea well and your idea interests publishers and agents, but the writing fell flat. This is the time to have your critique group step in and help you to see what could be improved on the project. Attending writers’ conferences and workshops can also help you to improve your writing.
If you receive a rejection letter that asks you to resubmit after some revision, be sure to follow through, do the work, and resubmit.
I believe that if you are passionate about writing, then you are supposed to write for one reason or another. Even if you never are published, your writing can still touch lives.
For example, about a year ago, my great aunt passed away. I didn’t know her very well, but my dad and I went through her things. While I was at her house, I found a couple of typewriter-written manuscripts in her closet with a pile of ancient rejection letters. I rescued those scattered manuscripts and letters from the closet and was pleased that they were there for me to find. While it seems sad that her dream was shelved, it meant so much to me to see that I shared an interest in publishing with my great aunt. She had literary inklings that our family of mostly engineers never knew about. I’m looking forward to putting the pages in order and finding out more about my great aunt through her novels.
So keep trying! Don’t let rejection get you down, and don’t take it personally. Work on improving your writing and know that your writing makes a difference.