About two months ago I did something that I have never done before as a writer – I sent out query letters to literary agents (yikes!). I have taken advantage of several opportunities to meet with and pitch my project to agents at writing conferences, but never before have I had to hit ‘send’ on the keyboard with my query attached. It has been a learning experience.
Having other writer friends who have been through the process, I knew enough to be optimistic, without being unrealistic. Following the advice of some agents who are active bloggers online, I came up with a list of 20 agents to start with. From there, I divided them into groups of 5, starting with the 5 I wanted to work with the most. Of those first 5 agents, these are results I have from my queries:
– 3 flat out rejections – 2 were form rejections and 1 gave honest, encouraging feedback of why that agent wasn’t the one for me, but gave me hope by saying that I was “doing everything right.”
– 1 request for first 50 pages – from the initial query, the agent was interested in reading part of the manuscript; still don’t have final word yet
– 1 still waiting to respond
It would be easy to get down and discouraged…”if nobody has picked it up yet, nobody will”, “why does it have to take so long”, etc. And those feelings are certainly present, especially after you have put all your blood, sweat, and tears into your story, your baby. But there is silver lining in all the rejection, if, as a writer, you are open to looking for it. For myself, I learned that my query was good enough for a couple of requests, but something must be missing. The 1 agent who told me I was “doing everything right” was very sincere and really helped me keep a positive attitude. So before my next round of submissions, I am going to get some critiques on my query, synopsis, and first 10 pages (usually what agents request). Then after I send the next round with my submissions tweaked, hopefully, I’ll get a more positive response. If not, well then it’s back to the drawing board.
When it’s all said and done, be thankful for rejection, because it means two things: 1) you are willing to submit your work and as long as you keep doing that it means you are not giving up and 2) even with rejection, you are still getting feedback on what directions to take next.