- On October 28, 2020
I had a setback this month. Not a major one, not something devastating I’ll never be able to recover from — but still, a setback nonetheless. For a writer, it’s the worst type of blow: rejection. Yes, I was rejected by an agent via a boilerplate email saying simply, ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ It hurts.
The rejection was especially disappointing because this particular agent seemed very interested in my work based on initial contact. I submitted a short pitch for my book via QueryManager.com (if you’re looking for representation or just want to get an idea of how the Agent Biz works, check it out!) An automated reply informed me I should hear back from (I’ll call him Bob) in 2 to 4 weeks to let me know if he was interested. An hour later Bob responded with a personal email saying he liked the concept and asked to see my first 50 pages! Wow, I thought, such enthusiasm! I gave my manuscript a quick once-over then sent him the pages, positive I was on my way to signing with Bob’s agency.
But alas, no. My hopes were dashed about a week and a half after that, when I got the ‘sorry, good luck elsewhere’ communique. It was polite. It was professional. It offered a quote from a famous author who’d suffered dozens of rejections before being published about not giving up. Obviously I harbor no ill will toward Bob, who certainly has the right to decide who he will or won’t represent. Still, it stung. It’s like being the last kid picked for softball teams, or the girl no one wants to take to the prom. Only times a hundred. Make that a thousand. Because this isn’t some personal, private hurt, it’s a kick in the face to my struggling career just when I thought things were really taking off.
And it’s not just that I’m disappointed, it’s that I don’t know why Bob went from anxiously excited to ice cold on my project. Was it my tone? Is the manuscript too verbose? Does the storyline sag? All of these? More problems? I asked for additional feedback from Bob but got another generic response about ‘this doesn’t meet our current needs,’ so that’s the end. I don’t want to be the bothersome writer who keeps pestering and pestering once I’ve been told ‘no.’ No one likes or wants to work with ‘that’ guy, and word gets around in the publishing game. Better to move along graciously, my reputation intact.
My plan now is to set my manuscript aside, work on some smaller projects, then go back to it with fresh eyes in a week or two. Maybe something will pop out at me, some big correctable issue that I’d missed before. Or maybe I’ll make a series of small ‘tweaks’ that make the book more attractive to agents. Who knows? Whatever my next review yields, I know I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off and try again.
Just not right now. Today, I’m giving myself permission to feel sad.