Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ouch! That hurts!

Have you ever been rejected at one time or another in your life. If you said no, you need to get out more. Rejections, whether personal or professional, are a normal part of life.
The game plan should be to keep them to a minimum. Me, I guess I'm a masochist because not too long ago I e-mail over 40 queries to book agents about my book Sarah Of The Moon.
I thought the queries were well written and insightful but I knew I was in trouble when the first rejections hit my inbox within minutes of my mailings. That's right, I was receiving rejection letters on queries sent two minutes previously.
The funny part was that they were saying things like: We've read your query letter, and the attached first 3 chapters of your book, and found that your novel, though it has potential, is not what we're looking for at the present time.
Let's skip right to the obvious. They didn't read my book excerpt and they probably did not read my query. There's a good possibility the agent never even opened my e-mail.
Things didn't get any better after that. After the initial first wave, the rejections began to trickle in one or two at a time. The wording rarely changed. The agents were always apologetic but still the book was not in their best interests.
Here's the bottom line, and the reason I'm not doubting my writing ability and even my manhood, the agents, are far as I can tell never read any of my stuff.
There I said it. I firmly believe that 99% of unsolicited e-mail queries are never read, at least all the way through.
Self-published authors are not top priority with book agents who must be absolutely certain a book has best seller potential before they begin pushing it to publishers.
It's tough out there in the book business today and agents know it.
So if you are trying to beat the odds, and who isn't, then the best of luck to you. But make sure you have a thick skin and a large ego. Both will take a hit in the days that follow.

1 comment:

  1. Rejection is an essential part of trying to get published. Any writer, including many famous ones, has a good-sized collection of rejection slips which seldom make any reference to the actual work being submitted. It's a classic Catch-22 situation: publishers prefer any approach to be through a literary agent and most literary agents are not interested in unpublished authors. Self-publishing doesn't count. In fact, it seems to have a stigma attached to it.

    Literary agents tend to specialize in particular types of books or genres, so it is no good sending a novel to someone who only handles non-fiction. My main writing was in plays for both stage and radio and I was lucky enough, after my first play was broadcast, to find an agent. However, when the market for plays began to dry up and I decided to write a novel, my agent was no good to me. She only dealt with theatricals and had no real contacts in book publishing. So I had to start over.

    That was back in the days before you could submit manuscripts electronically so a small fortune was spent in postage, envelopes, and copying. But the same basic principles apply. Be sure you are sending your work to the right kind of agency, follow their guidelines for submissions, and write yourself a brief but fantastic cover letter. Failure to do any of these can result in an automatic rejection.

    One other point: Agents and publishers are not interested in just a single work. First books seldom sell and are merely laying the groundwork for future works. Because of this, age becomes a factor. Publishers want young writers with long careers and many books ahead of them. It's discrimination but also a fact of life.

    In the end, luck is just as important as talent. Walk into any bookshop and look at the rubbish on the shelves for proof of that. So don't be too discouraged by rejection - you are certainly not the only one receiving that form letter or email.

    David Kaye