I have been rejected.
It seems I was tempting fate with yesterday’s post. No less than three hours after I put it out there, I got my first rejection. A form rejection! Or so I assume, as this little note was more than vaguely familiar to me from my internet wanderings. Disgruntled authors everywhere have posted almost verbatim rejection examples:
Hello S.C. Jensen,
Thank you for sharing The Timekeepers War with us.
We have carefully considered your submission. I’m afraid that we are not enthusiastic enough about your query to pursue it further. Because of changes in the marketplace we are taking on few clients right now, and as such have to be very selective about the projects we do sign.
Thanks again for thinking of us and we wish you the very best of luck in finding a home for your work.
Now, my initial feeling was one of disbelief. Really? They “carefully considered [my] submission” in four days, two of which were on the weekend? Every agency I’ve queried stated turn around times of 6-8 weeks (including this one). Four days is pretty impressive. I’m a little suspicious that I didn’t just get shunted into the trash pile after some intern decided she didn’t like the look of my margin formatting.
I also don’t want to set myself up for even greater disappointment in the long run. Still, it’s hard to just lay down and take it. It’s the artists’ age-old battle between ego and common sense, I guess. But if I’m going to do my peers (past, present, and future) any justice, I really have no choice but to put my guns behind my ego. It’s waaaay to early in the game to let common sense get a foothold. I might be forced to quite writing and get a “real job”. Balls to that.
Let’s not get carried away. Some agent has rejected me. There is nothing to do but learn from the experience, right? I figure I might as well share it, too. There is little enough concrete information for new writers out there. If my aim is to discuss my personal experience with trying to get a first novel published I can’t shy away from the icky bits, can I?
As for the experience of rejection itself, right now I’m simply trying to decide whether or not the form letter is a better or worse way to receive a rejection. I’m kind of on the fence about it.
On one hand, it’s impersonal. If there were specific reasons given for said agent rejecting my query, it might feel a little more real than it does right now. It would have been harder, but also more helpful, to receive a rejection that showed some evidence that the intern/agent actually looked at the sample chapters. I would actually be thrilled to receive a rejection letter that contained some real, constructive criticism.
I’ll make that my next milestone goal, I guess. The form rejection feels a little like a milestone, itself. At least it’s some proof to myself that I’m actually doing this. I’ve actually written a novel. I’ve actually put together an author’s query. I’ve actually submitted it to real literary agents. These are big steps, and I know that a lot of writers never even make it to their first rejection. In a way, this is confirmation that I am an author.
Maybe I’ll print it off. Frame it. After I find someone to represent me, that is.
Although a part of me really truly believed that the first agent to read the first five pages of my manuscript would want to sign me immediately, the rest of me knew this was coming. Still, it sucks. But I’m moving on!
Phil gave me an encouraging perspective on the whole thing yesterday, though. He told me that since someone will want to publish me, every rejection letter I receive is taking me one step closer to finding that someone. I’m not sure that his theory stands up to statistical analysis, but I like the sound of it. It totally supports my current egocentric writers-survival-tactic.
What about you? Is there anyone else out there with similar experiences? Horror stories? Success stories? Let me know in the comments section. We writers have to stick together and help each other out, right?
Either that, or we’re supposed to live like hermits and tear each other apart on the internet. I can never remember.