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Friday, February 28, 2014
These are rejection letters.
When I first started querying agents (8 years ago!), the idea of e-queries was new. Agent Kristin Nelson, on her blog, offered a list of agents who accepted queries via email. It was a pretty small list--but I was excited about it, because, well, email! What's the point of wasting paper and buying a stamp when you can email? It was hard to understand why the publishing industry was so slow to jump on board.
(No one had told me yet that "slow" was the publishing industry's middle name.)
Fairly soon, though, email became the submission-of-choice. But during the first year or so of my querying journey, there were lots of unhappy trips back to the house from my mailbox. After a while, you can tell what a rejection feels like in your hands. I swear.
I saved each one, though. I keep this red-ribboned pile in the top drawer of my bedside table, and sometimes I actually sit down and read through. It reminds me how far I've come, and that there's something to be said for persistence.
The rest of my (vast) collection of rejections is in my email box, in folders by title name.
That's a lot of "no." But it only takes one "yes".
Only one yes.
Are you hearing me? Let your rejections be stepping stones to your success. Pay attention to them, because they are markers of where you are on your journey. Are you getting NO requests for material? Take a hard look at your query--it might be lacking. Are you getting requests for partials that NEVER turn into requests for fulls? Take a hard look at your writing. Voice is an elusive thing, and it's when we find our VOICE that our stories begin to truly soar. Are your requests for fulls ending in rejections that are all saying similar things? LISTEN to those similar things. They might be pointing to exactly what is broken, so that you can fix it.
My pile of rejections is a tangible reminder that "no" doesn't mean "you're doomed to failure". I can hold it in my hands, feel the weight of it, and SMILE.
I have an agent. I WILL be published. It's all about walking across the rapids on top of the stepping stones, instead of letting them hit us on the head or push us under.
Are your stepping stones in a drawer? On your laptop? Or do you discard them to remain unfettered by the reminder of the nos? How do YOU deal with rejection letters?
Share! As we all press on toward our personal yeses.