by Orly Konig-Lopez
After that headline a few of you are probably worried that my marble bag has a hole in it. You might not be wrong. But that’s not the point of this post.
No one wants to get them, no one likes getting them. They sting. They make you triple guess your ability and quadruple guess your sanity. But rejections can actually be your friend (well, helpful acquaintances at least.)
I’m going to give you three reasons why rejections can actually be a good thing. Ready?
1) They serve as a badge of honor that you’re putting yourself out there. Writing is hard work. But it’s easy to sit at your computer, in your house, by yourself and write. Or plan to write. Or research agents. Or plan on researching agents. It’s safe in the cave.
Actually hitting that send button on a query is excruciatingly hard. And then when your email starts pinging with rejections, yeah, that’s worse than going to the dentist.
But if you don’t send queries, no one will see your hard work. Sure, you won’t develop a nasty case of queriers twitch and you won’t rack up god knows how many rejections. But you also lose the opportunity for a request or better yet, an offer.
2) They are a gauge for the progress you’re making. If the first batch of queries gets you mostly form rejects or no responses, chances are your query needs work. So you go back to the drawing board and rewrite your query. Now you’re getting some requests and maybe a few personalized rejections. That’s progress.
Perhaps you’ve moved on to another manuscript. You have a stronger query, a more enticing premise, those first pages are tighter than the previous manuscript. This time you’re getting requests right out of the gate. And now you’re also getting personalized responses, some with specific feedback on your manuscript. That’s huge progress.
3) They are a valuable learning tool. Every rejection offers some little nugget of information. Form rejections could mean there’s something wrong with your query letter or that the premise for your novel isn’t unique enough. Your critique partners or trusted writing friends should be able to help you flush that out.
The moment you start getting personalized rejections, you’ve hit a gold mine. However (see the warning lights flashing?), don’t get distracted by the fact that a real live agent sent feedback and dive into changes immediately. Even their suggestions are subjective. As with any critique, take time to absorb the feedback. If something resonates, bingo! If not, then you’ve gotten some valuable insight into what that particular agent is looking for (or not) for the next time you’re ready to query.
If you’re getting somewhat consistent comments, then you know that’s an area to work on. And the next manuscript (or the revision) will be that much stronger and that much closer to a yes!
It’s easy to get discouraged when the rejections are popping into your inbox but every no brings you one step closer to a yes. So take a deep breath and take another look at the rejections you’ve filed away. What can you learn from them? And what are you going to do about it?
After years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly decided it was time for a new challenge. Three women’s fiction manuscripts later (plus a handful of picture books), it’s safe to say she’s found her creative outlet.
When she’s not talking to her imaginary friends, she’s reading or at least trying to ignore everyone around her long enough to finish “just one more paragraph.” Orly has also joined forces with some amazing women’s fiction authors to launch the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.