I have twenty more days.
Twenty days until the month ends. Twenty days until I send out my next round of queries in an attempt to induce an agent to represent my novel.
Twenty more days with no rejection letters in my in-box.
So far, I’ve amassed 13 rejections. Some agents simply didn’t respond to my queries. Others sent out polite form letters, or more personalized notes.
My favorite started out with, “Your writing has merit, but…” It felt like receiving that yellow ‘Participation’ ribbon at track-and-field day – nice of them to offer it, but not something that you’re going to hang on your bulletin board.
In the grand scheme of querying, 13 isn’t a huge number of rejections. Stories abound of famous authors who had to struggle to get their work on shelves- authors like Dr. Seuss, Stephen King, Kate DiCamillo, and J.K. Rowling.
It’s easy to tell myself that this is all a normal part of the process, but diving back in still leaves me with a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Rather than wallow in nerves, today I’m focusing on the positives! The following are five unexpected benefits I’ve gained from the process of querying and rejection.
1. No more hiding!
Am I the only one who feels a little goofy admitting that I’m writing- seriously writing? (From the comments of other writers online, I’m guessing the answer is no.)
It took me months to admit to anyone that I was attempting to write a novel. It took even longer for me to allow anyone else to see it.
Creativity is personal. Sharing it leaves you vulnerable. I don’t like vulnerable.
It’s hard to admit that I’m going through this process, that I have the gall to call myself a writer. It’s even harder to admit that I might completely fall on my proverbial backside.
I might fail to sell my novel to an agent. And, as I’ve decided to record this online, I can’t even keep it a secret if I do!
However, now that I’ve been querying, now that I’ve had to refine and define my ideas for strangers to judge, I’ve found that I’m much more comfortable sharing with the people who actually care about me.
I suppose it’s better to break through that barrier now, rather than just showing up one day with my finished product.
I’ve failed at many, many things. Most of my failures had to do with ‘character building’ through school sports. I’m about as coordinated as an inebriated gerbil. And the gerbil would still probably have a better throwing arm…
As an adult, I have the power to choose to play to my strengths. I can stay in my comfort zone. I can do things where I’m almost guaranteed sucess.
It’s been a little hard to throw my heart-felt words out to someone I don’t know. (Ha! ‘A little hard’- that’s my Minnesota background talking. Like, when it gets down to 0 degrees, it’s ‘a little chilly.’)
If I wanted to give professional publishing a go, I had to get over it. Deal with rejection. Prepare myself for bring raked over the coals of critique.
It’s time to toughen up- better now than at the first bad review.
3. Confidence in my work
Here’s my process.
-I send out a query.
-I check e-mail compulsively.
-When the rejection comes, either in written form or in echoing silence, I attack my manuscript.
I’ve gone over and over the thing until my eyes blur, and I’ve come to one conclusion.
I like my book.
In spite of rejections, I still want this book to become. Reviewing and editing it so many times has made my confidence grow.
Growing confidence pushes me to put in the time and effort to make it happen.
I haven’t had to go to a job interview since…college? I had my degree to prove that I was a professional teacher, and I knew the rules of that profession.
The rules of the publishing world- not so much.
The querying proecess forced me to read up on publishing, on agents, on writing, oh, on so many things. Many of the agents I’ve approached include tips on their sites, cluing in prospective clients on common writing and querying mistakes.
I’ve had to learn what it takes to be a professional in this industry, in hopes of convincing professionals that they want to work with me.
Whether traditional publishing works out for me or not, I’ve got a better grasp of what I’m in for when I finally get that novel in a (fabulous looking!) cover.
5. This blog happened.
“What’s your platform?” “Who will read your book?” “What’s your sphere of influence?” (Does that last one make anyone else think Cold War? No?)
I probably wouldn’t have started consitently blogging without having to answer questions like these on query forms.
No, I didn’t start this blog thinking, “I need to find people who will read my book!” It did seem like agents expected me to be doing something on social media, though, and of the options, blogging seemed the most interesting.
I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have! Connecting with other writers and learning from them, reading about other people’s insights on history, enjoying stories and poems and fantastic cat pictures- all of these things have changed blogging from something “I guess I should do,” to a pleasure. (Thanks to all of you fellow bloggers and kind commenters!)
As I edit my query letter for the hundreth time (I’m not even sure that’s hyperbole anymore!) and recheck my lists of agents, I’ll try to keep it positive. If you’re in the same boat, I hope you can too!
Maybe this round will include an e-mail that isn’t a rejection.
Whew, that would be a whole NEW level of scary…
What benefits have you recieved from rejections and delays?
Thanks for visiting!