Friday, September 13, 2013
Rejected? How dare they...
You know how parents fawn over their children. In their eyes, their children are the most wonderful and perfect little creatures to roam the earth. They can do no wrong and everyone else should love and adore them. The thing is: no one can love a child as much as their parents. Okay, I'm nobody's mom, but the bond between a mother (or a father) and a child is similar to the bond I have with my characters.
Today I got a personal rejection letter that really surprised me--partially because I sent it several months ago and assumed my work had been passed over. However, that is not what I found most shocking. About five lines into the email, the assistant of the agent I queried explained that they "read my query with interest," but they "weren't drawn in by the pages." Along with my query, the agent requested (in the submission guidelines) the first ten pages of my manuscript. Now, I have rewritten my query several times since I sent it to this agency and looking back on the draft I sent them--it just wasn't great and it certainly wasn't perfect. Here's the thing: I always assumed that I would get rejected because of my query letter alone. I thought this because, of course, my manuscript pages were a work of genius that no one could possibly dislike. Okay, be honest: half of you readers are nodding your head because you've made the same mistake and the other half of you have a furrowed brow, narrowing eyes, and the words "What an idiot. Who would think that?" rattling around in your head.
I may not have literary said or thought to myself that my pages were so amazing that anyone who read them would be astounded at my brilliance (or maybe I did...not telling). So, we're back to where I started: the love bond between A. a mother (or father) and a child and B. the love bond between a writer and her (or his) characters. I love my characters and it's difficult for me to conceptualize or accept the fact that others might not (and probably won't) love my characters as much as I do. And that's... okay? Yeah, I think that's okay. It's okay for people to not love or even like my characters. It doesn't make them (the characters) any less important, influential, or special. All writers have read the line "This is a subjective business," in a form rejection letter. That sounds like a nice little sentiment to let a writer down easily, but it's true. Writing is subjective. You may have written the best vampire or zombie book in the world, but I can pretty much guarantee that I would absolutely hate the story. It's not your writing, it's not your characters, it just isn't a topic/genre that sparks my interest.
So you're saying to yourself, people lie, agents are people, agents lie? How to you know if that line (this is a subjective business) is just a platitude? You will never know so don't drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out. Take the form and the personal rejections with an open mind and then move on to the next agent. Remember: dwelling on rejection letters won't help you move forward.
Query with confidence and don't allow yourself to fall into the pitfalls of rejection. Not everyone will love your story or your characters and that's okay.