Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Julia Tagliere – How to Avoid the Rejection Blues

How to Avoid the Rejection Blues

by Julia Tagliere

Rejection sucks. There. I’ve said it. Is there anything worse than pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into your life’s work, sending it out into the world, and having it rejected? All right, I’m sure there are worse things—death, IRS audits, fingernails on chalkboard, those are pretty bad, too. But for writers, rejection letters inflict a singular kind of pain that we’re happy to avoid whenever and however possible. A few helpful hints:

  • Do your research before submitting. Ensure your work is a good fit for the agent, publisher, genre, and market. Research the submission requirements for each of your submissions and follow them to the letter. Writer’s Market is a good resource, but be sure to follow up on the individual’s/company’s website for the most up-to-date information.
  • Have your book professionally edited.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. Don’t expect an answer right away. Agents and publishers receive thousands of submissions every year; it takes time for them to give them all due consideration. Expect at least 4-6 weeks for a reply at a minimum—though some take far longer than that.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Unless the agent/publisher to whom you’re submitting explicitly specifies “exclusive submissions only,” submit to multiple agents and publishers.
  • Take seriously any feedback you receive. IF you get any feedback with the rejections, and often you won’t, take it seriously, especially if it’s repeated multiple times. But be aware that sometimes, all you’ll receive is a form letter (in one case, I received a postcard with the single word “Reject” on it—ouch!). In that case, your feedback may be that in that case, your research wasn’t thorough enough to reveal that that particular agent was a total jerk.
  • Don’t take it personally. That may sound disingenuous after my last bullet, but this is one with which I still wrestle myself. Try to put yourself in the agent’s shoes—it’s just business for them. They need to publish works that will make them money.
  • Plan to be rejected. Have a ritual for each letter. Some writers keep a collection of their rejection letters. Some affix them to dart boards. Some go for long walks. Some self-medicate with copious amounts of ice cream. My ritual is to read the rejection, make a note of any feedback, and then file it away, never to see the light of day again (until the day I can wave the offending letter under the agent’s nose and gloat, “You fool! You could’ve had me before I won the Pulitzer!”). Then, I get right back to work—all right, maybe I pause for ice cream, too.
  • Seek out literary support. Find a supportive writers’ group, not only to commiserate with you, but also to serve as a sounding board throughout your process—from outline to book sale.

It’s true, rejection sucks but it’s part of our business; you can either let it destroy you, or learn from it and move on.

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Genre – Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG13

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