The poison and antidote of an agent’s rejection
Every writer out there is familiar with the “unfortunately I’m not interested at the moment” line. Every writer, including famous ones. If you check the bio of your favorite author out there, you might even read an article where he/she confesses how hard it had been for them to get their first novel published. No matter how fascinating you believe a book is, not everyone will share that opinion. Same goes with the agents.
It isn’t the book within fault, or you, or the agent, but whether if the three together can be combined and mixed. Like a puzzle, each of the three pieces has to meet and fit to produce a cohesive whole.
The trick is to keep trying.
The problem, however, is that many writers who have been stung with the rejection poison once too many let the venom spread through his/her brain, often convincing themselves that the problem lay within the manuscript.
Often, the writer is wrong.
Many writers, after experiencing that wonderful journey of putting together those paragraphs, those scenes, those chapters that form the beginning and the end of the book and build up the courage to query an agent, only to receive a polite rejection, often feels dejected enough to consider his writing nothing more than a fool’s errand. Those many rarely write again.
Who hasn’t ever seen that line in their inbox “unfortunately, I’m not interested at the moment” before? Which one of you, after reading those rejections decided the manuscript wasn’t good enough? Which one of you tried writing something else? And which one of you thumbed your nose and went ahead and self-published?
In my opinion, there are three types of writers who branch from that line of rejection:
- The dejected, depressed, the one who believes his/her book was so bad he/she didn’t even get a partial request.
- The indifferent, the one who shrugs then puts his manuscript aside and resume his life, forgetting about the manuscript altogether.
- The persistent, ambitious, the one who would raise their chins and continue trying.
Often, from the third type, there comes two:
- The one who decides that maybe the book wasn’t good enough and starts writing a completely different book, genre, or revise the entire manuscript all over again. Sometimes, a second rejection for a second projects stings and the third type falls back to either of the first two
- Sometimes though, the third type decides his book was good enough and either that agent was telling the truth and the book really didn’t fit his interest at that time, or that agent was just plain mean, and the author decides he can take care of his own book and goes indie.
So why won’t the first two types do the same?
Traditional publishing (acquiring an agent to represent your book) takes some of the weight off the writer’s shoulders and helps the writer in such a way that many writers believe that they can’t do it without the help of an agent. It’s true that now-a-days an agent requires that the author comes ready to market his own book – even demanding it before the writer can submit a query letter, making it clear in their bio/submission page that if the writer doesn’t have any interest in helping market his/her own book then that agent isn’t the right fit. Still, traditional publishing – though much slower, helps boost a writer’s career – helps with the editing, refining the manuscript down to a t, helps with the cover and more importantly, the marketing. A lot of writers out there believe that the rejection of an agent means that the public won’t be interested and that going indie would only embarrass themselves.
That is not true.
Self-publishing has become more popular with the age of technology, giving the writer who doesn’t mind pushing up his sleeve the opportunity to do it himself. It’s laborious work, yes, but often very satisfying.
Here, aside from writing and editing a book, there’s more editing, then doing the cover – or paying someone to do it – formatting, and marketing.
Unlike with traditional publishing, independent writers sign no contracts, aside from the one they commit with themselves. There’s another plus for the indie writers, and that is the fact that the book starts selling after 4 to 72 hours after you publish it. With traditional publishing, however, it takes time. There are all the months – weeks if you’re lucky – of querying for an agent, then all the time it takes for the agent querying the houses, then possibly a year before your book starts selling. Plus you lose a lot of the say in what happens to the book and the format and so on.
And yes, you may acquire that agent after months of querying left and right, only to get rejected by the publishing houses.
Lately, I’ve been reading more and more about authors who do both, signing with an agent for a series and self-publishing a different one, or selling the rights of a book in a particular language in some particular countries, then self-publishing that same book in other languages and other countries.
Independent writers go through all that on their own. So if you’re the type who wants to write only (though you still have to edit your book and present it as polished as you can to an agent if you want to be taken seriously), then traditional publishing is your best fit, but I advice you not to feel down when the rejections start piling. It’s natural, it’s inevitable. Query as many agents as you can. Someone out there has to like your writing. Keep in mind you just need to find that someone.
For those who like the indie concept but still feels like the work is beyond you, you can always pay someone to do the cover and edit the book, format and proof read, and help market it later on. But beware of sharks, because the internet is full of them and you don’t want to find yourself getting skimmed for a service you never receive or worse, getting your book published under someone else’s name – though I haven’t heard about this one yet.
It’s a lot to take in, I know, but if you do it right, the satisfaction of seeing your book out there selling and getting read by others . . . won’t that be awesome?
Jina S. Bazzar