Bracing for Rejection

AHHHHHSo, now I’m back in DC and reality is rushing in. Not only do I have to face the prospect of returning to teaching, but I also have to brace myself for the process of querying agents. Over the summer, I’ve compiled a list of agents, some of whom I submitted my first manuscript to and others whose names I’ve come across by way of recommendations and research.

I find the submission process daunting, because I know rejection is on its way. It’s just a matter of course. And although I feel really good about this novel, I know it won’t be some agents cup of tea. Questions float through my head, such as: Will they see the gay angle as a marketing plus or minus? These days, I really do think it’s a plus, especially because gay marriage is such a hot topic, but I don’t know. Will they get what I’m doing with the structure? The dual narrators? The interwoven pulp pastiche, which serves as a thematic echo for the main story? I don’t know, but I do feel like I sending them something that’s high quality, character driven, and ends really well.

We’ll see how confident I sound after a few rejections. Sigh.



Filed under Finding an Agent, Marketing You and Your Work

2 responses to “Bracing for Rejection

  1. What worked for me in seeking an agent was to cultivate a deliberate split of self into a business person who protected the writing self, from having to know in any great detail how the agent search was going. The biz person (me) made a plan that required resubmission of the query packet to the next agent on my list as soon as a rejection came back–it was a task, and already predetermined, and that kept me from ruminating, and kept the search going. I chose carefully the agents I queried, and then I just let the plan roll. I didn’t scrutinize the rejections–I typed any comments in a chart just to keep a record of the endeavor. But I didn’t and don’t believe rejections from agents have much meaning. A nice rejection letter is a sign to persist submitting elsewhere. A “maybe” rejection letter is a sign to persist submitting elsewhere, but not to revise to suit the agent, because the writer only wants that agent who’s ecstatic about the manuscript–that’s the person who’ll be able to sell the manuscript, who’ll persist past rejections from publishers.

    Ah, but once you find an agent who’s really interested, that’s when you kick into gear to find out who that person is, so you can make a considered decision about whether or not you want this person to represent you in the marketplace. I went on my own dime to meet my current literary agent before I signed with her, and I’m so glad I did. The strong sense I got of her as a fine, principled, hard working, delightful person gave me every reason to trust her as the process of selling my novel unfolded.

    • johncopenhaver

      This some great advice . . . and I intend to follow it. You really do have to wear a different hat. I’ve been learning to do that this summer . . . Jeff has really helped me understand what that means.

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