Monday, January 19, 2009

Rejection, It's What's for Dinner

And for lunch, and for breakfast...

No worries, I haven't received a rejection from the very kind agent who is reading my full. But while I nervously await a response, I thought I'd talk a little bit more about the writer's constant companion, rejection. More specifically, what do you do when you get a partial or a full rejected. Besides cry.

Let me tell you, getting rejected at the query stage is bad, but getting a full rejected is absolutely heart-breaking. It's like climbing up Mount Everest, only to have someone pry loose your hands and kick you all the way down the mountain. It undeniably, unabashedly sucks.

But it can be a valuable learning experience, because it's usually the first time a professional has reviewed your manuscript. As opposed to your Mom, or your beagle (the beagle says my manuscript is "a work of literary genius" by the way).

So when you do receive a partial or full rejection, based on personal experience, these are the steps I suggest you take:

  1. Get away from the computer. You're upset, you're angry. Don't respond right away or you might say something you regret. Walk the dogs, get yourself a Coke Slurpee, watch Bear Grylls avoid alligators in a Louisiana bayou. Give yourself a chance to cool down.
  2. Once you have cooled down, carefully read the agent's feedback. When it comes to writing, agents have x-ray vision. They can usually pick apart your book and point out its flaws in ways ordinary mortals can't. You don't have to follow the advice they give, but you'd be well-advised to at least consider what they have to say.
  3. When you've read the feedback, write back and thank the agent for considering your work. I guess you don't have to do this, the agent's e-mail inbox is probably full enough as it is, but that's what I've done in the past. You might even be able to ask the agent a follow-up question regarding their comments if you think they'd be open to it. Some agents are, some aren't.
  4. After that, go back to your manuscript and apply what you've learned!
I wanted to go into a little more detail about my own personal experience. I was lucky enough to have a really amazing agent reviewing my manuscript. She rejected it for weak characterization, which shocked me at first, because the characters are so real and detailed in my head, but somehow that wasn't coming through in my writing.

I couldn't figure out how to fix the problem, so I asked her for a specific example and she gave me two. Like I said, agents have x-ray vision. She somehow took apart the book, showed me the insides, and pinpointed exactly why the story wasn't working. So yeah, it hurt, but my manuscript is so much better thanks to her input.

No comments:

Post a Comment