What I learned from rejection

Rejections are tough. Not receiving any answer at all is also tough.

Months or years spent working on something, trying to figure out if it’s good enough, having draft readers, talking yourself into submitting it to agents, hoping that your query email doesn’t suck, and then…you wait.

For The Last Summer, I queried about a hundred agents. Roughly a third rejected the submission, one asked to read more of the manuscript (and never got back to me after that), and the rest, no news.

It was tough, as I’ve mentioned. And every email you get is like a little dagger, but you have to remind yourself that it’s nothing personal and that you shouldn’t lose hope. The mails themselves are polite and respectful, and an agent or two may actually give you (brief) feedback on the query letter or on the overall submission. Agents not only have to deal with the queries they receive (and from a two or three chapter sample and a cover letter they have to decide whether to ask for the manuscript or no), but also with contracts and publishing houses, staying in touch with signed authors, international rights, other media, and a whole lot more.

What’s harder for me is the unending wait. I mean, I’m not sure I’d be thrilled to get a hundred rejection emails over the course of a week, but the fact that some agents warn you beforehand that it may take them up to six months to get back to you (which I get—the number of submissions they receive is around 300 per month, in average, although some genres may vary) can be quite harrowing.

I wasn’t entirely patient in my twenties (haven’t changed a lot, if I’m honest), so after six months of rejections or non-answers, I decided to go with self-publishing.

I had already written A Full Moon’s Night, On the Run, A Failing Condition and A Personal Investigation by the time I’d published The Last Summer. I had my favorite reader look at them, and after I got her approval, I worked on them and submitted them, but I didn’t put in as much effort, I’ll admit. I’d already gotten so into the self-publishing process and was so impatient, I went ahead on my own.

Now that I know how things work after you’ve self-published, and because of the considerable work and effort that I was unaware of before, I’m submitting everything I write to agents and giving myself six months to see if anyone’s interested.

Maybe it’s too little time, but I think that it’s an average of response times, and I also feel this urge for my books to be out there, so can you fault me?

Have you had any experience with any of these publishing stages or methods? How do you deal with rejection?

Moira Daly

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