One of the many benefits of the MN Publishing Tweet Up is a chance for bookish, publishing, and writerly types to interact in the most casual of settings – over a happy hour. During our newest installment of the Tweet Up, Dara, Art, and Jen started up a conversation on the general feelings of stress and self-doubt that many writers face during the writing process. The next day, Art wrote a blog on this, titled “The Three Blogging Hurdles Writers Face” – I highly recommend you read it.
If it’s okay with Art, I’d like to take this another step.
It’s time for your book to be pitched to editors. You’ve already found an agent who’s enthusiastic about it, and enjoyed the collaboration process of getting all the necessary materials fine-tuned in advance. Of course, some rejections will arrive, that is normal in the industry. Remember how many rejections received before meeting your agent? Eventually that agent read your book (and/or book proposal) and liked it. Liked it enough to add you to his/her client list. Trust me, this is a big deal. We don’t do this every day.
If the idea was good enough to survive the agent query process, you can survive the editor query portion of your book’s “journey.” My suggestions:
- Look at the rejections. What are they saying? Did the editors take the time state exactly why they turned it down? Look for a common theme(s). If there seems to be repetition in the reasons for the rejection, it’s worth considering the best ways to strengthen your book
based on those themes. Editors are just like agents, it’s rare they give loads of advice and/or reasons for rejections. Consider it a compliment if they go that extra mile.
- Communicate with your agent – brainstorm about the book. If it’s not necessarily the writing or the idea, but maybe something as basic as building a platform that’s resulting in the rejections, then it’s time to get strategic. Taking the time to overcome those figurative hurdles can be used to your advantage. My advice? Don’t rush the process. But do be persistent. And of course read “Get Known Before the Book Deal” by Christina Katz. Read the book. Implement the ideas. Repeat the process.
- Never take rejections personally. What one editor likes, another may not like. That’s par for the course. Should everyone like all the same books? No. The fact that we all bring personal reading tastes to the table = rejections during the query process. Do I need to remind you how many rejections were received before finally meeting your agent? If every editor had the same taste in books, publishing would suffer. Readers would suffer too. So when you do receive that rejection, don’t beat yourself up over it. That was never the intention of the person who sent it.
To be frank, it breaks my heart when I see a writer overly stressed about the writing experience or the publisher query process. It’s one thing to be able to learn from the rejections, it’s another problem altogether when an author begins to doubt his/her ability to write. When this happens, I think back to my early days with Sebastian Literary Agency. Laurie taught me that an agent is the author’s champion & advocate. I took it to heart, because she was very correct; if we love our clients’ books, we’re here to make the overall publishing process a valuable (and hopefully positive learning) experience. That’s the most important thing to remember, no matter what happens.
This leads into too many other topics, so I’m going to stop here (for the moment).
Questions? Comments? What has your experience been thus far?