by Annette Lyon
I got the chance to attend the same teen conference that Julie wrote about yesterday. In addition to teaching a workshop, I was part of a panel about the process of getting published.
We talked about the "typical" submission/acceptance process: the query, the request for a partial, a full, what an agent does, when you can and cannot submit to an editor, how to avoid unscrupulous agents, and so forth.
(Dang, what I wouldn't have given to know this kind of stuff when I was 16!)
When each of us on the panel talked about our publishing history, of course rejection came up. A lot. It's part of the business. One of the authors on the panel actually had his first novel accepted on his first try. (Yeah, I know. We can all hate him.)
BUT . . . he has since experienced plenty of rejection.
We told the teens in the room that not only does rejection happen, but it will happen. Plan on it. Being rejected is part of the business.
Sometimes you'll be rejected because you stink.
But other times, it could be for a hundred other reasons: your story didn't speak to that particular agent. Your writing voice isn't one they prefer. They just sold a book similar to yours to another house.
The fact that there are books on shelves that I love and someone else hates (and vice versa) is the same thing: editors and agents all have their own tastes.
Sometimes, finding the right agent or editor at the right time is a matter or timing and luck.
You can't blame all your rejection on back luck, however: you have to do the work first. Work hard on your writing. Make your manuscript shine. Write several books to hone your craft.
Do everything you can to make sure that when opportunity comes knocking (or, rather, when you're chasing it down and the door finally opens), you're ready for it.
Never take rejection as a sign that you should stop writing. It may be a detour, a pause, a yield sign. Maybe a moment to take another look at your work or your query to see if you can improve.
But it doesn't mean it's time for you to give up.
(Go ahead and burn the rejection letter if it makes you feel better. Just get back to the keyboard afterward.)