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Mar 31, 2021

Another Day, Another Rejection Notice

By: Bobbie R. Byrd

        You’ve finally done it: you’ve completed the final edit on your debut novel. Your creative obsession bears the term THE END on the last page. The words are on paper; now the fun part begins. Time to get that puppy published!
        Thus, begins your quest for a literary agent or publisher. You start with what’s known as the query. That’s when you realize you need a synopsis of your novel. Two weeks later, and with most of your pulled-out hair still on the floor, you have a coherent summary to go with your query letter. You work up a list of potential agents and publishers, research them all, read through their submission guidelines with a fine-toothed comb, set up your query tracking software, and send out a batch of queries. 
        Now…you wait.
        Some replies come quickly (I got a blatant form rejection within twelve hours of submitting to one agent.) Some take weeks or months. Others never come. But when they do begin, be prepared to receive a rejection notice…or two…or ten…or more. (I know one writer who just received number one hundred seventy-two. My count stands at seventeen.) 
        Most will be standard form rejections: “Thank you for submitting, but your work doesn’t seem to be a good fit for me at this time.” You may get a few that are more personal, giving you a hint at why they’re rejecting your query. Others may invite you to submit work in a different genre should you ever have something. 
        Regardless of which type you receive, they all have one thing in common: rejection of your submission.
        Sending queries and receiving rejections are the standard operating procedure for writers, so don’t take the impersonal nature of rejections personally. On any given day, there are millions of queries and manuscripts zipping around in cyberspace and snail mail, making their way to agents, editors, and publishers. That’s a lot of writers just like you, all jockeying for the attention of a limited supply of literary professionals. 
        Can it be frustrating? Absolutely. Is it depressing at times? No doubt. Will you be tempted to throw in the towel and either forget your dream of being a published author or ditch the whole process and go straight to self-publishing? More than once. 
        Here’s a bit of perspective: J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) received no less than twenty rejections from publishing houses before one took a chance on her. Frank Hebert (Dune) saw a comparable number of rejections before landing a publisher. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind garnered thirty-eight rejections before publication. Meg Cabot collected over one hundred rejections of her The Princess Diaries before she found a publisher.
        Before you make any decisions about giving up or going into non-traditional publishing, remind yourself of your goal when you first started writing your novel. Was your intention from the beginning to secure representation and traditionally publish? If so, don’t give up on that dream. 
        Does self-publishing appeal to you more than the traditional route? Go for it! You gave traditional a try; it didn’t work out well, so move on. Do what you think is best for you.
        Consider rejections a rite of passage. When you receive one, send out five new queries as your response. There’s an agent, editor, and publisher out there waiting for your manuscript—it’s up to you to find them.
About the Author

Bobbie R. Byrd is a retired teacher and registered nurse. Since 2015, she’s concentrated on a long-dormant passion: writing. She’s developed a client list for which she provides freelance writing and is now querying agents and publishers with her debut sci-fi novel Lady Silver: Warlock Chronicles, Book I. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys the solitude of her home in the backwoods of Mississippi and playing with her three fur-babies: Snowball, Radar, and Krumpus.
Contact her via her website and blog: Thoughts from the Backwoods