Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't Wring Your Hands!!!

What to do when you are rejected:

  1. Refresh your email to make sure it wasn't a mistake.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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!!!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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. 
Yes, I got a rejection. It was actually extremely helpful, and I still cried. A lot. I emailed a crit partner. I was frustrated. And then I got on with my life. If you're querying, you can't afford to lose a whole day of writing every time someone doesn't like your book. Because how will you be able to write EVER when you finally are published? Have you read any reviews on Amazon lately? Even books I love have pros and cons.

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.


  1. Sorry to hear about the rejection, Kelly. Sounds like you're dealing with it well, though - rejection-handling tips notwithstanding:)

  2. Hey Krista- I'm too busy to mope for long;)
    And I've put you back in my email contacts!

  3. Kelly, I once got a rejection that was so nice and personal, I almost framed it. Then I went to a writing conference where an editor from that publishing company was speaking and he said their rejection letter was just about the nicest one out there. I almost laughed and cried out loud at the same time when I realized all the compliments they gave me were just part of their form letter!
    By the way, the whole Golden Compass series was written specifically because the author HATED The Chronicles of Narnia. So even that one doesn't escape criticism...

  4. Your rejection tips made me laugh. A lot. I'm tempted to throw a temper tantrum every time I get rejected, but then I try to channel that into revisions or writing something new, something I can feel hopeful about.

    I'm glad your rejection was helpful and wish you luck with your revisions!

  5. Melinda- that's funny about the nice form rejection. I didn't know those existed.

    And re:Narnia dislike- I guess that's fair since the religious right boycotted The Golden Compass series. Damned atheists. That was an ecclesiastical term, not cursing, by the way. And I was joking about them being damned. That's none of my business.

    Myrna- I'm glad you found the post funny. I would hate to come across as whiny, and that's the alternative I see here. Have a great day!

  6. A very funny post, and you definitely have grace to handle rejections they way you do.

    Your blog just keeps getting better and better each time I read it.

  7. Aw, thanks Teresa. Laugh or cry...I choose to laugh. Have a great day!

  8. Sorry about the rejection...I am glad you can write a little humor about it. Good luck with your revisions and next round of querying!

  9. Thanks Abby. Good luck to you in your endeavors, too!