Saturday, March 17, 2012

Appreciating the non-rejection

Rule #1 to being an author: rejection is a given (unless of course you're Alane Ferguson). We writers love to quote the rejection statistics for famous writers, because it makes us feel slightly better about our own rejections. Hey, if JK Rowling can get turned down by almost every publisher in England and then go on to produce the highest-selling series of all time, why can't we?

And for me personally, most of those rejections arrive by way of email. So I have come to appreciate emails that don't contain rejections. It's rather interesting; while spam used to annoy the hell out of me, during the querying process I would open my inbox, see the junk mail, and breathe an enormous sigh of relief. It can be a sales pitch, or an advertisement, or one of those fake ZOMG YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED TO WIN A GAJILLION DOLLARS emails. Hell, it can be a freaking virus as long as it's not a rejection.

I write this post in a rather lame attempt to find something positive about being rejected over and over. I'm more confidant and outgoing than many writers, but still, constant rejection is a blow to the self-esteem, especially because writers tend to overanalyze the responses of agents/editors:


Reality:

Dear Ms. Coursey,

You are a very talented writer and I thank you for the opportunity to consider MY BOYFRIEND IS A CRAZY STALKER NOOOOOOOOO. While the manuscript shows promise, it isn't right for my list at this time. I have no doubt you will find an agent to represent this.

Sincerely,
Dream Agent


What I read:

Dear Ms. Coursey,

I'm supposed to say all these nice things because I don't want to piss you off and provoke a call/email response/visit to our office, but I cannot lie anymore: you suck. Your writing sucks, your characters suck, your plot sucks, and that dress you're wearing is ugly as hell. Go back to being a normal high school student and stop invading our perfect literary bubble with your pulpy prose.

Sincerely,
Dream Agent


It's not that writers can't read (haha, that would be unfortunate). But our minds twist a rejection into something it's not. We twist it into a commentary on ourselves, our abilities, and our potential futures as authors.

So what's the one good part about getting a rejection? You learn to appreciate the non-rejections. I swear, nobody but a writer could ever get excited about an email selling toilet cleanser, or high-powered vacuum cleaners, or penis enlargement pills (seriously, am I the only person who gets about a million of these?). Today, I invite you all to celebrate the non-rejections. Let's be grateful for those glorious emails that do not even mention the word "pass".

12 comments:

  1. My very first rejection was "I love this, and I'd like to see your next work, but the market for paranormal YA is really overcrowded and [your subgenre] is on the black list".
    None of the other, more impersonal rejectons have stung as much as that one...

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  2. I have an email address just for queries, so when something comes in I stare at that little inbox number, figuring it's like Schrodinger's cat and until I look at it, it is both a rejection and an acceptance . . .

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    1. I so love your use of the Schrodinger's cat metaphor as I have recently discovered this theory.

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  3. Great post Kate.

    I'm not sure what list you're on, but I don't get very many of the penis enlarging emails...haha.

    But its true. So many times we read into the rejection letter, thinking its telling us our work is bad. But the reality is the agent read it, if they're not immediately grabbed, its not for them. Your work could be fantastic.

    But that's not what our first thought is :)

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  4. I liked your rejection when I "queried" you :)

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  5. Wait, what? Are you saying that all my rejection letters really were closer to example #1? I could have sworn they were exactly like example #2. Maybe I should go back and reread them, but that would be like getting rejected all over again. I'm opting for chocolate instead. Chocolate always makes everything better.

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  6. To true,

    But a fun post to get through all those rejections. At least you had some positive lingo. Mine are usually form rejections.... :LOL/

    HURRAY for the NON REJECTIONS!

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  7. Haha. Yes, I will celebrate the non-rejections along with you. For me it's usually someone trying to give me their billion dollar inheritance or solicit me for help for their dear heart in patience to be considered with believing and patience in humanity to have consideration on these types of manners with hopes to prayers for mine...or something. :)

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  8. LOL! Awesome post Kate! I'm all in for the celebrating. It's so much better then the chocolate-eating-pity-party. ;)

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  9. I swear my rejections have said: "This is a classic premise with nothing special about it. One of our agency's amazing and talented clients might be able to find a unique twist and make it work, but you are a stupid joke if you think you are good enough to write it. Go clean houses for a living."

    I'll send you some non-rejection emails, Kate. =)

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  10. Great attitude! And yes, my altered rejection letters read much like yours. They're not fooling anyone. :)
    New follower!

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  11. The male enhancement emails! Oh my gosh, I got these for MONTHS. Everytime I saw one I just wanted to yell at the computer that I was a girl, a GIRL! After I changed email addresses it stopped though.

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