It’s 2020 and I have no excuse to avoid the dreaded querying process. But why is it “dreaded” for most writers? It’s simple. It’s all about fear of rejection! That’s why I procrastinated in 2019, even though my third manuscript, For Position Only, was polished and ready to go.
How to Deal with Rejection Letters
Unless you have extraordinary parents, who injected you with unwavering confidence and super-human self-esteem, rejection hurts.
The first time I received a rejection letter from a literary agent was tough. Oh, how tough it was to see the word NO in black and white! No? You mean you don’t think my manuscript is a masterpiece like I do? I sulked for a few days, only to discover more rejections. Once I racked up around 15, I realized there was something amiss.
My manuscript was not ready. I was a bit too satisfied with an early incarnation of my work and impatient to get it into the right hands – so I put my mind to querying like a mad person for months. But, as the rejections edged their way in, I had to take a hard look at my work and do some editing.
Reasons for Rejections
I knew my manuscript needed work, but most writers don’t know how important the query letter itself is. Most agents require a query letter and some, a synopsis too. But I learned the hard way that my query letter was not up to par, and my travails have taught me that if the query letter does not spur interest in an agent, they will not go further to read your pages.
I highly recommend doing what I did, which is hiring an expert to perfect your submission materials.
Your Perfect Agent
Agents are in the business of sales and they need to see potential in your work in order to sell it to a publisher. Think of finding the exact right fit in an agent as finding a life-partner. It must be right for both parties for the relationship to be a success.
Do your research before approaching an agent. Find out what genres they represent, go to their website, check out titles they have published. See if there is a match for your manuscript and those for which they are getting publishing deals.
I highly recommend Writer’s Market books, and online resources, including Querytracker.net, Publisher’s Lunch and ManuscriptWishlist.com. These offer a wealth of information on agents who have made deals, agents who are accepting queries and what they’re looking for.
Query a Little at a Time
When you feel that your submission materials and manuscript are ready, you’ve generated a list of those you want to approach, go for it! But don’t bombard the agent community with tons of queries at once! If you’ve done your homework right, you won’t find quite that many looking for exactly what you have, whether it’s Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction or something else. The recommendation I hear most from agents is to query in batches. Narrow your list to those good fits and query them 10 at a time. Remember, you may get great feedback early on.
If you get rejections:
Rejections will either be a form letter, a short reply or, if you’re lucky, personal feedback. If you query and someone requests your full manuscript – BINGO! You’ve conquered the query process and your submission materials are good! If that agent rejects you after reading your full manuscript but gives you good feedback, apply it.
I move rejections into an electronic file, so they are not staring at me every day while I plow ahead. Always remember, there is someone out there who wants your work – just keep swimming!
That is what I will be doing in 2020. Happy New Year and good luck to everyone who reads this blog. #WritingCommunity this could be your year!