Friday, September 23, 2011

Rejections Part 1

Marquita Hockaday writes YA and blogs with her cousin over at Y(A)? Cuz We Write! She asks:
How do I stay motivated to query after so.many.rejections??

After my rant earlier this week, I added a Part 3 to this series, but for today, let’s concentrate on

Part 1—Dealing with rejection from the professional publishing world.

It's been a year since I sent out my first query, and in the spirit of keeping it real--

Rejection sucks.

Yeah, I know, shocking isn't it? It doesn't get easier, but here are some things I try to remember and things I do to stay motivated.

1. I Send queries out in small batches of five to six and wait for the results. I take what I learn from those responses and make improvements to the query and the MS. Plus a little bit of rejection is easier to get over than a ton of it at once.

This was harder in the beginning because form rejections don’t tell you much. All I could figure was the query wasn’t working. Or maybe it was the sample pages? How do you find out???

2. Get eyes on your MS, query, synopsis, etc. Criticism is hard to take because it’s a form of rejection, but it WILL move you forward and give you insight to what’s not working.

There are a lot of blogs, authors, and even agents that give free critiques. See the links below.

3. Continue to learn about the craft of writing and publishing. Read agent blogs, author blogs, and writing help sites. As you do this, you will be able to see where your writing needs help.

As part of continued learning you can…

4. Attend writing conferences. I know they’re expensive. It kills me every time I miss one, but there are free online conferences all the time (See links below). They provide great opportunities to learn, grow, and sometimes pitch to agents or publishers. The workshops allow you to get feedback you can trust.

As your writing improves, you gain confidence. You will also come to realize the query game is about YOU interviewing agents to find the one who is the best fit for you.

What if you go through your entire agent list and get nothing but rejections?

5. Learn about small to mid-sized publishers. This could be the best fit for you and your story. Rejection from agents doesn’t mean your story is crap. It could just mean they didn’t think they could sell it. Maybe it has a niche audience and could do really well with a smaller publisher.

I have a short list of mid-sized publishers that I think I would enjoy working with. Once I realized my main goal was to write the best story I could and put it into the hands of readers, I knew I could be happy going this route.

I now know that the best validation will come from having people read my book and like it. I can do that on my own, right now, if I wanted to on CreateSpace.

The bottom line to staying motivated is learning that YOU are in charge of your destiny. It's a lot of work. Sometimes people say no, but it's okay because there are lots of options. There are new agents all the time, new agencies, new publishers, and it's getting easier to self publish every day.

6. Finally, give yourself a break. Don’t forget why you write and allow yourself to play around and enjoy the journey. When I get down I play on making characters, I make soundtracks on Grooveshark, I make book trailers, or book covers. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself why you fell in love with your story.

Good luck and happy writing!

Critiquing Blogs:
Unicorn Bell--currently small so you get a lot of attention from the blog owners.
Janice Hardy's Real Life Diagnostics--my first chapter goes up tomorrow I think.
Miss Snark's First Victim--large but has great agent contests.
Matthew MacNish gives critiques over at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment.

I know there are tons more out there, but my brain isn't working this morning. Send me those you know of and I'll keep adding to this list.

Recent Posts:
Seeking an Agent is not Seeking a Job from BookEnds, LLC--a literary agency.

There are more writers groups than I could ever list. I used to go to these two a lot for query and first lines help:
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Forums
Nathan Bransford Forums

You can register RIGHT NOW and up until September 25th (that's Sunday) for the Muse Online Writer's Conference. The dates are October 3rd-9th. Hurry if you want to sign up for pitch sessions! Muse it Up Publishing is making a name for itself and they have several agents and other publishers providing great workshops and pitch sessions.

WriteOnCon just finished their free conference, but they have great stuff year round so check it out. This is geared toward YA, but all writers can learn here so don't skip it just because you write for adult audiences.