Don’t Give Up!

15 Jan

Agents are part of our big dream to becoming a published author, because they help make that dream happen. That is why it is also a stressful part of being a writer. Rejection is tied to that process like an ugly coloured ribbon. That doesn’t have to mean it is necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on how you look at it. What people say and don’t say matters. It can tell you a lot. That is why every rejection is also feedback on your story. And yes, that can be scary for some. But feedback is good, it helps you become better!

There are different types of rejections and I can only draw on my own experience here. There is always the standard rejection, but that one usually goes something like this: “It isn’t for me.” Which tells you two things. One: you contacted the wrong agent. And two: it wasn’t poorly written. Probably. This takes a bit of a leap of faith, because nothing bad is being said about your work, nor can they really judge it, because it isn’t their cup of tea to begin with. However, I like to think that if something is utterly poorly written, they would have mentioned it. It only takes a few words to say: “I’d have another look at it if I were you before getting in touch with another agent.” Okay, quite a few words, but you catch my drift.

Other reactions depend on your story and the agent you’ve contacted but so far I’ve heard: “I can’t identify with the voice.” This was funny because these were American agents, whereas the British agents I had contacted both mentioned they loved the voice and the story, but they didn’t love it enough to take me on. What I took away from that was that with that story I had to stick with British agents, though I did once contact an American agent a while later and she said she did like the voice, but again didn’t love the overall story enough to go for it. That’s something I heard a lot and did actually make me feel happy. There is nothing particularly wrong with the story except that they didn’t fall in love with it. It’s a bit like finding The One or a house. You have partners or houses you really, really like but not so much as that you want to commit to it fully. You want to be in love. There is some degree of luck involved in the agent hunting process. That is an important thing to remember.

Other things I heard was that it was a close call, but they couldn’t really afford to take on a new writer/client or they already had clients that wrote similar genres and were actually looking for something different. Comments like that are mainly bad luck. It’s a game about money and sometimes the timing’s off. That’s why I like how agents always add an encouraging line, because it tells you that you’re not sucky and you should keep looking. Which is exactly my point. Don’t give up!
Someone is bound to fall in love with your story, and in the meantime you keep writing. Perhaps there is another story that will have more luck and your talents will have improved by then because like wine, writing gets better with age.

If an agent comments on your writing in a negative way, leave it for a while and look at it later with fresh eyes. You could disagree with them, but they do know their stuff and it’s always smart to keep an open mind. Act like you’re already an author and stay professional and enthusiastic about writing. Keep going and enjoy fishing for agents. You only need one bite!

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