Before getting into this post I should preface that I have only sent my query out to 4 agents. In the world of writing and rejection this is piddly. I spoke with a friend that has been attempting to get an agent for his YA fiction. He has sent out 60 queries, received 10 partials, 50 rejections, so, I have a long way to go before I start crying about how no one loves me, or how unfair the publishing world is because Snooky get’s a book deal and I don’t, or all the other possible things I could create to cry about. This post is just about how it felt to get the first rejection.
I think the thing that stuck me the most, as what felt like a slap in the face, was the turn around time. I was rejected in about 48 hours. I had expected it to take much longer. I know that it is probably a lot nicer to know right away that they don’t want to see your work versus waiting for agonizing months, but as for my first go round I was stunned at the speed.
No matter how many times someone tells you rejection is all a part of the game, don’t take it personally, and all the other words of comforting advice, it is hard to truly believe all the words of experience. After all, how many weeks, months, years did you put into your work? Now you have to define it and sell it to someone who in truth could give two shits about you personally, all that matters is can it be sold enough to make a profit for the publishing house? I’m not criticising, everyone knows money makes the world go round, but this knowledge never removes the sting of feeling devalued for what you’ve put so much of your time into, especially if the only thing that equals value is a dollar sign. Again, money, name or prestige is not truly value, you have to find the value within yourself and within your work, but stings and bites are just that: stings and bites.
These are just thoughts that are rolling through my head as I take a slow walk through this process.
As I mentioned, the turn around time is what shocked me and I was also shocked to feel so disappointed. There was a part of me, no matter how much I tried to deny it, that actually believed that maybe I would be that lottery winner, that some agent would respond with at least wanting to read my book before they determined it was a no go. This must be some part of my childlike brain that also still believes that there really could be unicorns, fairies, and minute men who steal your keys. I don’t think it is wrong to have this type of fantastic hope, after all that’s part of what keeps me submitting (although I haven’t been submitting). What I felt was almost funny. I felt like I was rejected from the popular crowed, once again. Immediately, I felt like I was the worst writer in the world and what business did I have to write a book? Really odd feelings. Then my next feeling was fuck them, they don’t know shit: the ol’ blame all the ignorant assholes bit. The final feeling was by far the best, and most unusual in my overly competitive and comparative mind, I thought, “huh, I wonder how many rejections I can get. Is it possible to be rejected by every agent and every publishing house? That would be kind of cool.” Why I would think this would be kind of cool I’m not sure, like if I was truly proven to be the worst writer in the world that I would feel some kind of accomplishment in that.
It seemed like a great oddly rewarding challenge with no real chance of loosing. I can’t purposely try to get rejected, you know by writing crazy queries, I need to really try to write how I write, because it is my writing style that needs to be rejected in order to truly be rewarded as the worst writer.
I haven’t sent out anymore queries, manly because I sometimes have a hard time caring. I have impulses of wanting my writing to be seen and my story to be printed and read, and other days, it matters very little to me. I’m not sure what I want out of the whole experience anyway. I should feel proud I set out to write a book and that I did it, but I don’t think that matters that much either. There are a couple of things that I decided that I want to clean up in the story before embarking on my “most rejections ever quest,” but my biggest question to myself is why get it published at all? I could do a self publishing and get a couple of copies to send to my mom and some friends then be done with it. Kind of like when your great uncle wrote the book about the neighborhood block, you know its not that great some interesting parts, but damn he was so proud of himself and he was a writer. I could do that. I guess I want more than that, and I’m not sure if that is a problem or a quality.