Any author who has seriously considered the traditional publishing route for their work has felt it. The skin-tightening anticipation of waiting for a response from an agent or publisher. It’s like the ‘they love me, they love me not,’ game but without the daisy.
So, way back when, I sent out my share of submissions, and like everyone, waited for a response. The first time I received a reply from an agent was quite the experience, but not for the reasons you might think.
I read the response just before heading for bed, having gotten it late in the evening. Because I am an imagination junkie and cannot help myself, I had given a lot of worried thought to how I would react when the responses came in. My fantasies were divided into two categories: yeahs and nays.
Depending on the agent’s response, the possibilities ranged from, “yes, well, I always knew success was inevitable,” (too-cool-for-success sunglasses flip and hair toss) to stoic “I’ll nail it next time” acceptance before galloping along to the gibbering, sobbing puddle of glee (or angst) that was by far the most likely outcome regardless of the agent’s verdict.
Or at least, that’s what I thought. But I was wrong, because none of that happened.
I shared the news with my husband, brushed my teeth and hair, and went to bed. No tears, no angst. Nothing, nada, zip. Ok, to be honest, yes, I was disappointed. The agent in question was my first choice and it would have been awesome had she been interested. But two phrases kept circling my brain like a warm fleece blanket in a snowstorm.
One: They will all reject you except the right one. A friend told me that when I was debating whether to even attempt the traditional publishing route and she had a point. No matter which method we choose (indie or trad), connecting with people who will support our art in the right ways is vital. One should never work with anyone on a project without shared vision and goals. Disinterest in your project is a good indicator that this agent/publisher/editor, whatever, isn’t the one for you.
Two: A rejection letter doesn’t mean your work sucks. What a refusal actually means is that it wasn’t the right piece for this particular agent/publisher/magazine, etc. for any number of reasons. It really, truly, honestly, isn’t personal.
Like so many of the things we are most passionate about, it is the work that is most important. We need to remember that. Success as the world defines it is far less important than success as we create it. So, whatever your definition, keep working towards success. And in the meantime, happy writing.