Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The first cut is the deepest

It's coming. My first rejection, that is. I can feel it. It feels like doom and despair. I'll soon be rushing about wailing and gnashing my teeth. In a mere few days it will be four months since a big publishing house received my manuscript. Apparently they take about that much time to give a yay or nay to a submission. And the odds, I'm told, of having a manuscript accepted are so slim I might as well hope to get struck by lightning while winning the lottery during a terrorist attack.

Yes, I know. Rejections, hey? Part of life. Won't kill me, will make me stronger. People keep saying, "Oh yes, but [insert name of famous author] was rejected [insert large number] times and now look he/she [grand statement of success]."

But, Agent Sydney, I'm scared. Scared of rejection, that is. I feel like a geek who walked up to a beautiful supermodel at a party and asked her out. She said she would answer me after four months. I am anticipating the pain of her rejection: owwwwwwwieeeeeeeeeeee!

What should I do? Am I acting like a crazy person? Need I not fear rejection until it's staring me in the face? And, once rejected, what should I do? Send to another publisher/drink myself into a stupor/something else?

You're scared of rejection? Why the hell are you submitting manuscripts to publishers, then? Rejection is part and parcel of success. Can you point to any single successful creative person who has not been rejected at least once? Even George Clooney spent years in the wilderness (I KNOW - unbelievable, non?) and he is definitively the single most attractive set of XY chromosomes ever known to humankind, with the exception of the young Paul Newman. And how do you think poor old Vincent Van-G was feeling when he took to his own ear with a bladed instrument?

Granted, you don't want to wait for posthumous success - that's understandable. But if you want to put yourself out there in the creative realm, you have to take the inevitable rejections. And you also need to understand this: 9.75 out of 10 times, the rejection has nothing - NOTHING - to do with you. Many is the time I've had to reject something I love simply because I don't think I can get it published - and that's nothing to do with the author, it's because there's not a publisher in the land who'll be interested in the book. Fast forward five years, go back eight years, who knows? There could be/could have been.

Of course, you haven't even been rejected yet. You're just anticipating being rejected. Don't you think you could spend your energy doing something more constructive, like writing a new story? And don't you know anything about quantum mechanics? Planning for rejection is only going to get you rejection. (Yes, this sounds a bit woo-woo but quantum mechanics is a valid string of physics.)

Also, four months? FOUR MONTHS? Publishing operates on reverse dog years - i.e. if a dog lives 7 years for every 1 human year, the publishing industry experiences 7 human years as 1 publishing year. Four months isn't enough time for us to even get out the lead and take you for a walk in the park.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that was an awesome and speedy reply. I heart you Agent Sydney. You rock. Never change.

Cass said...

I have a super-sneaky strategy for coping with rejection (if anyone other than me is going back through the archives and gives a fig what I think): have so many queries out there that whenever you get one, it's statistically vastly outnumbered by all of the unknown "maybes". And as soon as you get a "no", send out another query so that your pool of "maybes" is at 100% again. (It takes the sting out of it.)

Of course, this means querying to overseas agents, because in Australia there aren't enough to make the "no" statistically insignificant. ;)