Yet Another Reason why Being a Writer is Hard

Yesterday was cold, gloomy, and snowy, but the worst part was that I got six rejections of my query letter within twelve hours. Don’t let anyone tell you that being a writer is easy. It’s not. I don’t know any other job where you open yourself up to that much criticism in that short of a time unless it’s being an actor, musician, or artist.

Two of the agents outright told me they were rejecting me because they wouldn’t take on a client that competed with their existing clients. Two of them said that they only represent commercial YA not literary YA (um? My novel is a literary novel? Okay… good to know), and the other two were form rejections that were addressed to “Dear author.” Nice.

If I hadn’t had those requests early on from other agents (I’m still waiting to hear back by the way), I think I’d be strongly tempted to scrap this whole project. Over the years I’ve been writing, I’ve gotten used to rejections. One or two a day doesn’t even faze me anymore. But six in one day? Come on!

Noah Lukeman, a very successful literary agent, said that an aspiring author should never give up on a project until they have sent out at least 200 queries. TWO HUNDRED. That’s a mind boggling number. I’m still in the very low double digits, so I guess I have a ways to go. But it’s hard. All that rejection, it can mess with your head a little. We writers are a crazy bunch, not because we open ourselves to so much rejection, but because our hopes and dreams live on in spite of it.

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20 thoughts on “Yet Another Reason why Being a Writer is Hard

  1. Chin up. 6 in one day is just bad luck. Really bad luck, I presume. There as no lit agent conspiracy where they all got together and said, “Let’s dash the Literary Mom’s hopes today! Ready, set, SEND!” I’m frankly impressed at how many queries you are sending out! I sent one last Monday and that took every ounce of my courage to put together and send. Not that I only have the one basket for my eggs… I’m just starting easy before I gain momentum and bombard the market. At any rate… cheers to you for being resilient.

  2. I highly encourage you to send out more then one. All the writing books say to send out queries in batches of ten because a. If you send them out one at a time it will take forever. Some agents take MONTHS to get back to you. Some won’t get back to you at all. b. If you get rejected it isn’t as much of a let-down because you know you still have nine other queries out there. And c. If you get an offer, and you don’t have any other queries out there, you’ll have to accept it right away. If you get an offer while you have other queries out, you can notify the other agents. Many times you will get offers from them as well and you can pick and choose who best suits you and your idea of your career.

    That being said, the very first times I sent out queries four years ago, I only sent one, to my dream agent, before going on from there. It took two months to hear back and it was a rejection. I’ll never send them out one at a time again. It hurts too much.

  3. On the bright side, you got them very quickly. They didn’t keep you hanging on and they obviously took you seriously.

    I just got a rejection to speak about a book festival about A Year of Reading the World. Turns out I missed the deadline by two days – you can’t win ’em all. Keep going.

    • That’s true. I just got a rejection on my first book. I sent the query for that one out over half a year ago, and they just got around to rejecting it now. I know they’re all busy, but come on, really?

    • yeah, except there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get picked… and they’re rejecting the story you practically gave birth to… it’s like some one calling your baby ugly! Ugh. I’m trudging onward…

  4. Aww, Amy, my heart hurts for you, but look at it this way. Every rejection brings you closer to publishing. You got 6 of the ‘bad’ ones out of the way. They weren’t agents/editors/publishers you want to work with. The universe has something superb planned for you. These six weren’t ‘it’. Keep querying. That perfect agent is going to come along and snatch you up. That you haven’t heard yet on the other front is a good sign. It means they are considering.

    I, too, am in very low rejection digits if 200 is the ceiling. There are many times I want to give up, but I believe in my novel and I’m going to beat it into the ground until someone signs it. Hold on to your faith in your novel. You’ve invested too much time and energy to let those, who don’t know what they’re passing by, rule your emotions. Now get to it, and make all those rejecting agents squirm because they didn’t sign you! You’ve got a best-seller looking for a home. 🙂

  5. Aw Amz! I’m sorry it came all at once for you. On the bright side, two agents snagged the fulls and two said you compete with their existing clients! Well. Done. You. You not only have the balls to submit to agents (I so need to write something good enough so I can grow a pair) but you are being recognised by them! Plus, I have to say that your writing outshines mine and any others I’ve read in so long. Keep going girl, you will make it! And when you do, don’t forget yer ol’ cp ;o) x

  6. I’ve been told anytime you get a personal reply, it is a good thing. However, that was about rejections of the manuscript, not queries. The implication being, the agent thought enough of your work to respond and perhaps make a personal remark or two to be helpful. Did you send any pages with any of your queries?
    200 queries? I must have at least a 100 more I could have sent out on my first book. Time to dust it off I guess.

    • yeah, I’ve heard the same thing… As far as pages, it depends on the agent’s preferences. Some ask for just a query, some ask for the first 5-10 pages, some the first three chapters. It all depends.

  7. Personally, I’d blame the Post Office. On the other hand, it could have been one a day for six days. That would be like death by papercuts. Best to pull the bandage off quickly. It hurts like hell, but at least it’s over and you can move on, right?

    OK. When I get my rejections (after I finish the ruddy book), feel free to send those consoling thoughts back to me. I know they probably didn’t help, but I had to try.

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