On Rejection

For my second post about querying, I wanted to address something I hinted about last week, something that any querying writer will know all about.


I don’t even really like saying it.  It’s depressing and hard and sad.  So, this post isn’t going to be about rejection in my specific case.  I’m not here to wallow – I truly want my book(s) to be published, so I’m willing to work hard to get to that point.  So this post is going to be about how to get through rejection and what you need to remember.  I’m going to try to stay positive here.  So here is what you need to remember during the querying process when it comes to rejection.

It’s not personal.

This one is really difficult for me to remember, because I have the tendency to take things very personally.  But you have to keep in mind what the goal of the querying process is – it’s to try to find an agent who is going to be an advocate for your story.  You don’t want just any agent – you want the right agent.  You’ve got to hold out hope and remember that it is truly not personal.  It’s just that that agent isn’t the right fit for you and your story.

It makes you and your story better.

This is something that Chuck Sambuchino always says:  If your query is not getting any partial requests, then you’re either (a) not researching your agents properly, or (b) your query letter needs some work.  And then, if you’re getting partial requests but no requests for the full manuscript, that means your book itself needs some work.  In either case, the reaction from agents should make you a stronger writer.  For example, this is an email I recently got in response to Something Beautiful:


Now, when I first read this, I was upset.  Near tears, actually.  I even tweeted about it:

But I have since revisited the email, and I realize what a gift it is.  I have been trying to pitch this story for years.  YEARS.  And I’ve never gotten that much excellent feedback all at the same time.  So my story still needs work.  Yeah, so?  If I’m not working, I’m dead, right?  And now I know exactly where I need to start.  This is going to improve my writing and improve my story.  It’s brilliant, and so SO helpful.

It’s not the end.

A couple rejections are never the end of your pursuit, and if they are, then you weren’t serious about your writing in the first place.  Once I go through a complete revamp of Something Beautiful, I’ll likely try querying it again.  And again, if needed.  And I have other stories to query in the meantime, and other stories to write and edit in the meantime.  This is not the end.  This will never be the end.

The most difficult thing about querying is that it is discouraging.  When you’re not hearing any good news, you can start to feel beaten down and exhausted with the process.  You can start to question yourself and your talents.  But you have to keep the whole thing in perspective.  Any feedback is good feedback because it exists to make your story and your writing better.  Rejection is a part of it all, but it’s okay.  Persistence is character building.  And any agent who is interested in your story will appreciate all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into making the story what it is.

Happy writing, editing, and querying to you all!


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