Handling Rejection

The last 72 hours has been a rollercoaster for my writing.  I have resumed sending out query letters for ‘The Forgotten Road’.  Writers who have been doing this a while, learn to set their expectations very low.  Sending out a query letter has the following possibilities:

  1. No Response.  If your query letter is crappy, this is probably what you’ll get.  Writing a good query letter is crucial.  It has to be perfect, and entire books have been written just on how to write a query letter.  You also have to know the targeted agent and what they are interested in reading.  Miss there, and you probably will never hear from them either.
  2. The ‘thanks but’ Response.  This is probably the most common, now that most agents, or at least the one’s I’m querying, work by email.  The ‘buts’ that I have encountered include things like not taking submissions right now or not a market we’re interested in.  The only thing you as a writer can do to avoid this response is to do better research.  But you will always get some of these responses, as no amount of research will tell you that just lat week that agent was slammed with 200 manuscripts, and they just aren’t accepting any more right now.
  3. The ‘We liked your work, but.’ response.  This is different from the ‘Thanks, but’ response.  This is definitely a step up from the ‘thanks, but’ response, because it means they got past your query letter and looked at your work, and there was something about your work that wasn’t quite right.
  4. The ‘We loved it.  When can we offer you a deal.’  I haven’t seen one of these yet, so I’m just guessing how it might look.

I got a #3 for the first time yesterday.  I sent out a query letter on Thursday evening, and received a reply back that they wanted to see my work.  They sent the note on Thursday, which either means they really liked the query, or they as fastidious about keeping their email in box clean.  Either is fine with me.

On Friday night, I sent the first 50 pages to the agent, and they replied they would try to read it within the next two weeks.  Most agents say to allow 6-8 weeks for a response on submitted material.

The response was in my inbox by 1:30 that afternoon.  It was a rejection, but they had read the entire fifty pages that morning.  That is pretty amazing, seeing as it was a Saturday.  An agent doesn’t work normal business hours, I guess.  I won’t post their feedback here, but the gist of it was that there is a lack of conflict, of foreshadowing, of ‘something happening’ in the first thirty pages.  However, they loved some of it, calling it ‘wonderful.’  They gave me a full paragraph of explanation of why they thought what they thought, and I agree with them.  So it’s back to the editing process, adding here, subtracting there.  I’ve got multiple ideas on what to do, but it’ll take me a few days to dig in an settle on a course of action.

For me, getting a rejection like this is inspiring.  It’s a step forward from the form rejection letters, and a confirmation from someone in the industry that tells me that I am close, that I have some talent.  I’ve heard that from friends and relatives before, but they don’t know the industry, and what it takes to sell.  So I won’t mind doing ‘1 more edit’ on a book I wanted to be ‘done done’, if it puts me that much closer to getting a #4.

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