Friday, April 25, 2008

It's Not Personal

by G.Parker

Our group has been commiserating and encouraging and discussing a well known writing dilemma: the rejection letter. Rejection letters come in all forms, sizes and paper. We feel honored if it actually has handwritten signature or comments on it -- because that means someone has really looked at our efforts and has taken the time to let us know we are on the right track, just not the one they can use right now.

It reminds me of the movie (I know -- a movie again? lol) that I think I've mentioned before. In You've Got Mail, he tells her "It's not personal, it's business." Well, I've used that phrase in many conversations, but in this instance, I'm telling you it's true. In the publishing world, especially in regards to agents and editors, your rejection is probably 99.99% NOT PERSONAL. It's not about you and whether you spell your name right, comb your hair a certain way, look as gorgeous as a model or wear a specific outfit.

It's about publishing.

You see, a lot of writers have a favorite day dream: A literary agent sitting at his desk, waiting for that wonderful manuscript that's going to change his or her life (and ours). Or even better, that the editor is just waiting to get my book because he knows it will be a raise and promotion and will spring both of us to the top of the heap, king of the hill, etc., yada, yada, yada.

Unfortunately, most of us at Authors Incognito have discovered this scenario doesn’t represent reality. They aren't waiting, they are WADING. They are quick to explain in about every writing conference the idea that publishers and agents are swamped with manuscripts. Agents get an average of fifty a day. Publishers get hundreds. Your manuscript is just another in the pile and if it doesn't stand out as an amazing read, it will get the rejection letter.

So, rather than let this discourage you, the next time you get a rejection letter remember that yours was probably the last in a long day, or the wrong genre, wrong season, wrong anything to that editor who is overworked, or the agent who has to eke out a lively hood from finding a person to represent. It's not personal -- it's business.

It's up to you to make things the best they can be. It's your job to keep submitting, keep improving, keep moving forward. You have to remember that many famous published authors were rejected many times before they made it big. I've heard Gresham was even rejected 100 times before his first novel reached print. 100 times.

We have an annual contest going in our writing community -- it's the rejection letter contest. We were told at one of our writing conferences that you need to keep these letters, count them and be proud of the work you're doing. If you are submitting, you are persevering. You will make it.

In the future, try to remember when you find yourself holding a rejection letter -- it's not personal -- it's publishing.

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