Friday, July 23, 2010

What Form Rejection Means To Me

This one's for you, Rejectionist!

On April 15, 2009, I sent out my first query letter, to Nathan Bransford. I did NOT choose Nathan because he was my dream agent. I mean, he seems like an awesome guy and his blog is terribly helpful for new writers, but based on the research I did, and the list of books he represented, I actually didn't think he was a particularly good match for my novel.

So why did I choose him as my first query target? Because he usually responds to queries within 24 hours. In my case, I think I got my form rejection in about 3 hours. And that's exactly what I was looking for. So, why was I so anxious to get my first form rejection?

Because form rejection means you've put yourself out there. It means you're playing the game. Writing can be lonely work, and getting back form rejections means that you've decided to get out of your own head and share the work with the publishing industry, to perhaps one day share it with an actual reading audience.

Mur Lafferty on her podcast once asked her listeners to participate in a year of rejection: to try to gather as many rejections as they could within a year. Because lots of rejections means you're submitting LOTS of short stories to LOTS of magazines. It means that you're doing your research about which markets are right for your work. It means you're building a thicker skin. It also means you've opened yourself to the possibility of success; how many people write and edit forever, scared to put it out there, scared to find out their work isn't perfect?

The lottery commission says you can't win if you don't play. In publishing the odds may also be bad... but you can control the quality of your entry. You can increase your odds of winning by sending out multiple entries, and with so many agents and magazines accepting email queries, it probably won't cost you a thing.

I needed to know that I was no longer working in a vacuum. I needed to get a response from the publishing world to prove to myself that I really had sent my writing out, that I was being heard even if the answer was NO.

So when Nathan rejected me, I didn't think That's so unfair! or Wow, he just made a big mistake...

I thought, Let the games begin!

I thought, BRING IT.

27 comments:

  1. Poor Nathan - now he's the canary in the coal mine. I did the same thing, btw. :)

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  2. Aw, I was just looking for a funny grumpy cat because of Lola Pants! (That's the Rejectionist's cat, for those who aren't already devoted readers of her blog.)

    Fawn, at least Nathan gets first look at a lot of the stuff he DOES want!

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  3. Love the picture! Thanks for the post. I really appreciate your enthusiasm. Best of luck, by the way!

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  4. Dear Carrie. My name is also Carrie.

    And it makes me super, super happy there is another hyper-aggressive BRING IT kind of Carrie out there in the writing universe. Maybe it's in the name.

    My rejection essay was a chat LM.

    http://fanfreakingtastic.com/?p=553

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  5. So true. Good for you for getting your feet wet! And good luck with your future queries. :)

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  6. Carrie,

    You should be INCREDIBLY proud of yourself. You've shown tremendous growth in not only getting your work out there but in developing a playful and strong sense of what it means to be a writer (especially the dreaded but important administrative aspects). Your work is wonderful (I know this first hand) and it will find a home that will cherish and nurture it, of that I am certain.

    Keep going!!!!

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  7. Great message, and I love your audacity in getting the first one over with.

    Robert De Niro said the same thing about auditioning: "If you don’t go, you’ll never know."

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  8. I LOVE this! Living a year of rejection seems like such a tough but inspiring thing to do, and I want to adopt your attitude :)

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  9. "to try to gather as many rejections as they could within a year." <-- that is an awesome suggestion. I am totally going to try this now. Er, I mean... Pretend that was my goal all along. or something. :D

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  10. You have such a healthy attitude! It makes me stabby. I mean, I'll tell my therapist that I aspire to be Carrie :)

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  11. Great post. Important message. It's good to remember that successful writers get a huge number of rejections. The more queries we send, the better the chance that one will land on the right desk at the right time.

    Rejectionist should declare you the unwinner of the uncontest for the cat picture alone.

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  12. LOL! I did the exact same thing w/Nathan. Too funny! Good luck in your search for an agent. I'm right there in the trenches with you!

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  13. I Loved this! It's SO true that agent searches (end editor searches for that matter) are a numbers game for most of us. Yours is a great attitude to have because If you can't take the rejections you won't make it long enough to get the acceptances.

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  14. What a great, fantastic attitude! It's that kind of attitude that gets you far in anything in life.

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  15. I love the positive spin on the rejection reality. Well done!

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  16. Good luck with your manuscript.

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  17. You have an excellent attitude. I predict much writing success in your future. Also, I love that cat. :)

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  18. This is really funny--that was my plan as well. To send to Nathan first and let the rejection games begin.

    I LOVE your year of rejections--not just for writing. A year of risking. What an awesome concept. Good luck with the querying!

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  19. That's it! I'm going to see how many rejections I can get in a year. I've already saved the ones I've received so far... I plan to paper my office walls with them... but I'll need a lot more if I'm going to have enough.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  20. Good inspiration. I hope to keep the same frame of mind when I finally make the plunge into querying (Nathan first, of course).

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  21. Keep buying those lotto tickets - your number will come up eventually!

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  22. Another lotto reference by a person who perseveres! Great post.

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  23. This is a great idea. And that cat is perfec

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