What to do when you are rejected:
- Refresh your email to make sure it wasn't a mistake.
- Find something to get angry about. You know it's in there. "This is a form rejection!!! I bet they didn't even read it!!!" OR "This criticism is too vague to even help me!!!" OR "This criticism is specific, but it could apply to chapter one or chapter twenty-one!!!" Regardless of how your anger expresses itself, remember to use exclamation marks. Lots of them. We all know there's no better revenge against an agent than multiple exclamation points. Oh, yes. We have our weapons, too.
- Read the rejection again. If it's an email, print it just so you can have the satisfaction of balling it up and throwing it in the trash, or setting it on fire, if you run like that.
- Cry a lot, and make sure to tell people how devastated you are, and how cruel the publishing industry is. Facebook is very helpful in this regard. Don't worry about being an emo. Your true friends will want to know what you're going through.
- Shoot an email to your crit partner crying about number two above. Delete them from your address book if they reply and tell you someone else will be interested. After all, this is their fault for not telling you what you needed to fix in the first place!
- Get a milkshake. That's the drink I'd feel most guilty about drinking that I'd actually drink, but I'm sure you will adjust the beverage to fit your own personal demons. Get fat/drunk/stoned. That will show them!!!
- Make sure not to write anything constructive for a few days. Mull over the rejection for many hours. Accept that you suck and you'll never be published. And everybody who ever said they loved your story has bad taste in literature and is a pathological liar. They're all out to get you.
- OR Make the suggested changes, if the agent was jerky enough to provide any feedback. Stay up all night if that's what it takes. Email the agent back and ask them to look at your revisions. They'll be impressed with your passion, I promise. You might be willing to forgive the agent if they see the error of their ways.
- If some idiot tells you that you're not being very professional, remind them that you would like to be a professional, but you keep getting rejected! What kind of a trap is that? This is a good spot to use any short words based in Anglo-Saxon.
Seriously. Pick the last book that you really liked and go read the reviews. Unless you read Narnia, I guarantee you someone hated it. I was shocked that not everyone loved The Queen of Attolia. There are 58 reviews of The Queen of Attolia, and 6 are very negative. What are these people thinking? That's one of the best books I've ever read! Read the bad reviews. Laugh about how they didn't get it and remember again that there's a lot of subjectiveness in this business.
I am taking querying very slowly, and I think this has been a good thing for me. "Pulse" is my first book, and I've been fortunate enough to receive feedback from some of the agents I've contacted. The criticisms I got yesterday were very hard to hear, but now that I've gone through my stages of grief, I can see that she was right. It's very good that I didn't send out queries to all the agents on my list at once, because I still have lots of options, and that feels great. I plan on taking a few weeks to think about the criticism recieved, then fix it. I'll work on another project in the meantime.
So, when you get a rejection, keep breathing. Cry. Get it out, and get on with your life. I find doing something non writing related for a while helps, like playing piano or taking the kids to the park, or cleaning the disaster that was my kitchen.
Something to think about, though: If you query ten agents a month and lose a day with every rejection, you've cut down your writing time by a third. That would really be a shame, wouldn't it? Good luck, friends.