Monday, May 10, 2010

How to cure the rejection blues

Good afternoon! It is my pleasure to blog with such a talented group of authors.
I write historical romances set in fifteenth century England during the so-called “Gypsy honeymoon” period.

My third novel in the Coin Forest series is written, and I’m wading through the third round of full book revisions. Thanks to my beta readers who are looking at the full manuscripts for ways to make it shine even more.

I’m reviving my agency search, referring to my four-inch three-ring binder, bulging with rejections from previous agency searches.

Oh, such bliss.

I tortured myself in 2008 by collecting all the agents to whom I’ve subbed work, and organized them alphabetically. They list agent name, date, which novel, and results. Alas, not one of them says, “offered representation.”

Two pages, single spaced, 12 point Times New Roman. The agent names fill the page, along with the dismal results.

“Great concept, but didn’t like the characters.” “Didn’t connect to voice.” “Didn’t love it.” “Terrific idea, great writing, but I represent someone whose voice is very similar to yours.” “Not right for us.” “Not for me.” “Bursts with creativity and historical detail, but not at this time.”

I will be forever grateful to Five Star Publishing for seeing the spark in my work, for seeing outside the “current hot topics” box and recognizing the worth of my novels.

Still, the general consensus is that to thrive in the current market, an author needs an agent, so I forge ahead, scanning the lines and lines of names.

It's like a badge of sorts, I suppose, to hold up my work over a hundred times, lifting that stone tablet up for consideration -- that takes courage. So why do I feel so tired?

As I studied the page, it occurred to me that I needed an attitude adjustment. These weren’t agents who rejected me. These were agents who, when they read my query or sub, didn’t see enough promise on that day. They exercised their right to be subjective. Maybe their feet hurt, or they were secretly tired of historicals, or didn’t immediately see a best-seller. Whatever the reason, my work didn’t click with them.

The lines of agent names blur on the page, and I see more than just so many lines of Times New Roman. I see steps.

Yes, steps, steps I’m taking toward success. Gotta collect those rejections to take the next step, up, up, climbing until eventually I reach the top.

With thanks to author Carolyn Kaufman, here is a thought-provoking quote:

“To escape criticism, do nothing. Say nothing. Be nothing.”

Take this somewhat dismal quote and flip it, and you will find more courage and determination to realize your dream. The opposite of nothing is something.

"Do something. Say something. Be something.” Is this simple statement the key?

What coping "antibiotic" do you find useful to beat the rejection blues? I welcome your comments!


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Janet,

I don't have an agent either, and yes, I agree, in order to reach the larger publishers, you have to obtain the services of a major agent. Not an easy task! It is discouraging. However, if you want to write, you should certainly continue. Five Star gives us an opportunity to have our work published in hardcover, hopefully read by reviewers and ordered by libraries. As for rejection, well, it keeps us humble.

Jacqueline Seewald
coming in August: TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, a Regency romance

Anonymous said...

Hi, Janet.

I do have an agent, and I'm also pubbed with Five Star. And I'll compare my binder to yours any day? <>

First, I"m glad you're congratulating yourself for pubbing with Five Star. They're a great press, and I'm not just saying that b/c I'm with them. They produce fabulous work. Kudos to you and the other authors.

Secondly, don't rush the agent thing and keep plugging, woman. You're so correct to see it as steps. You want the agent who is going to look at your work and say "YES! This is the author I've been looking for." That will be the agent who "gets" you and the one who can represent you to the next level. I'm so fortunate to have an agent like that, and she was worth waiting for . . . worth even accumulating said binder for.

Terry Odell said...

I've had all those rejection letters. I actually had an agent for a while, but we mutually agreed to part company after a year.

You just have to tell yourself that somewhere there's an agent who will click with ALL the parts of the story.

I got a rejection today for a short story that said my work had made it to the "Perhaps" file where it sat being mulled over before they finally decided to pass.

As I discussed on my blog last week ... you just have to move on.

Anonymous said...

Here's my recipe:
I remind myself with each rejection that I'm one step closer to acceptance. That works for about fifty percent of the time. The other fifty percent, I let myself mope for a day, nurse my hurt through a glass of wine then move on. That works for about fifty percent of the fifty percent. As for the remainder, well, see, I've developed this tick in my eye. . .

Janet Lane said...

Hi, Jacqueline. Isn't it nice that we receive so much encouragement to be humble? Makes it easier for us to get through the door.

Drue, congrats on finding an agent that works for you. Your success inspires me.

Terry, that's a new one, the "Perhaps" file.
Perhaps this month is the month for success.

A nervous tic, LOL, Rebbie.

Thanks for sharing your stories, ladies!

Joyce Moore said...

Janet: I have a shoebox of rejections. Someone told me, at the beginning of my writing career, that they would prove to the tax man that I was really trying. I keep an Excel file in a folder called Submissions. I stick the rejection in the shoebox, then click on the submission data and mark Rej )guess what that's for). I, too, had an agent, but don't have now. As for Five Star, like you, I'm glad Roz saw a spark of something in my writing, enough to have them invest time and money in producing The Tapestry Shop. So yes, we should value each success, and build on it. Loved reading your blog. Food for the soul.