Rejection is one of the most disheartening things you can go through as a writer. You’ve expected to get some rejection but when there seems to be no success at all it can lead to feelings of self-doubt, a loss of confidence and too often an abandonment of writing all together.
But don’t lose hope.
If you get a rejection after sending your novel out only to a few agencies don’t lose heart, there could still be a chance for success with your particular novel. Ask yourself if you are sending your novel to the right people. An agency will always specify what kinds of novels they take on and there are a lot of agencies out there that only deal with very specific genres. It seems pretty simple but I know a lot of authors who have sent out their romance novels to agents who only deal with Science Fiction.
The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook is the best place to get information about agencies, but you could always check the website. Every agency has information about their clients online and often have a little info about the specific genres they accept. It is also important to check whether or not your chosen agency is currently accepting new clients. If they are not accepting new clients then it is a waste of your time and theirs to send them your work.
Do not demand to know why your novel was rejected. An agent will remember an aggressive writer and will not take you on if they think the relationship will be a difficult one. Also, they will tell their friends (other agents) about you so you will instantly limit your chances of getting an agent in the future. Be pleasant and polite and always maintain your professionalism even if you have a particularly cruel rejection.
Ask yourself if your work is truly at its best. How long did you spend working on it? Did you edit it fully? Did you check for continuity? If there is any doubt about the standard of your work then you should put the manuscript away for three to six months and then check it over with fresh eyes. If you have been working on or editing your novel for a long time you could be in danger of memorising it. When an author memorises their work they will not be able to see if there is anything wrong with it. All the words fit well because they have read it that way too many times to see them any differently.
If you have repeated rejections the most important thing to remember is that it is your novel that has been rejected, not you. I cannot stress how important it is to move on from something that doesn’t work so you can produce something that does. I know many writers who have had success not after their first or second novels but after their second, third or fourth novels. What this tells us is that these writers are perfectly capable and talented, but didn’t happen to have the right novel at the right time.
Remember that there is always a certain amount of failure in writing. It’s important that you see rejection not as a huge roadblock but as another step forward in the creative process. We need to know what works and what doesn’t to be able to write better, and for that there always needs to be a certain amount of rejection. If you have had any constructive criticism along with your rejection letter or email then keep it, use it; it’s valuable to you because it is written by someone with knowledge and tailored to you and your novel specifically.
Finally, remember that if you have been rejected it doesn’t mean that you have failed as a writer. Have the courage and determination and drive to keep going because the only true failure is in giving up all together.
Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.