Thursday, December 10, 2009

Let's talk about Rejection.

Several agents tell writers not to give advice about queries. Though writers do write about a million queries in their writing careers, they're not the ones reading them day in and day out. The agents know what's best when it comes to queries, and when in doubt, research your agent. Odds are they have a blog, and if they have a blog, then they will have mentioned queries. Some good resources are Nathan Brandsford, Queryshark, Absolutewrite, Kristin Nelson has some interesting client queries on her side pannel, and many more resources are availible, including Guide to Literary Agents which has a lovely few chapters devoted to query writing, and of course many more places to find answers for all your query questions.

There is no need for me to explain how to write a good query. You can find that answer anywhere. Not to mention that since I don't have an agent yet, I'm not really one to tell anyone how its done.

However, as a writer, I think I can talk about rejection better than anyone else. I can't count the amount of writers that I've met that give up when rejection after rejection gets them down.

It's hard. There's no way around it. Publishing is HARD. Writing comes down to stubbornness. How many people do you know who say, "I'd love to start a book, but I don't have the time." or, "I've never been able to finish anything." Determination. Stubbornness. That's what it comes down to. You need that obnoxious stubbornness to finish the damn book, then you need it to edit the damn book and that tough skin to take the criticisms. And then you need to keep going through the querying process, all the ups and downs that come with it. It's stubbornness, baby, and maybe a little bit of luck.

People think I'm crazy. Everybody who knows me says, "Katie, you're too optimistic for your own good." I'm optimistic about pretty much everything. I've been through some hard times in my life, and I don't see the point in thinking about all the bad things that have happened when I could be looking at the good things.

Let me take you through the process of recieving a rejection: Whenever I recieve an email from an agent I've quieried, I get really nervous and excited. When I open the damn thing, I read through, hoping for a request, and when I see that it's a rejection, my heart sinks a little. Why wouldn't it? I take a moment to dwell, "Was it my query? The idea? Did something else set them off?" Then I add it to my saved folder collection and get excited. I honestly do.

You must be thinking: "Excited at a rejection? Katie, what's wrong with you?"

I know. I'm weird. And that doesn't work for most people. Some people can't be blindly optimistic. But if I have advice for those that do have trouble accepting rejection, then when you get that R, take a deep breath. Just sit at your computer, take a deep breath in, and think of something to make you happy. Then, remind yourself of the goal. Why are you going through all of this pain? Why, to get published!

Think of you name in print, in bookstores across the country, no, across the world! Think of getting emails from agents praising your work, from readers who you've touched. Imagine that fat roytalty check in your mail. Think of Steven Speilberg directing the film of your book. Imagine thousands of fans screaming in excitement when you leave your house.

Then tell yourself: I will get there.

That's all it takes. Reinforce yourself. Take a drink of wine, have some chocolate, watch your favorite movie, and tell yourself: this is just a setback. This agent will be kicking themselves when my name is in lights. After you've recovered the shock of having your baby rejected, (And such brilliance it is, too!) get out there and send off some more queries! Or revise your query! Or take another look at your ms.

But when it comes down to it: Never give up. Because dreams do come true. ;)




  1. Dear Miss Carson,

    I came across your post on Absolute Write, "Ever feel...trapped," and read it and the responses you received. Then I clicked on your blog and read your post about rejection.

    While I admire your willingness to see this thing through, I'm beginning to believe you may be looking at this the wrong way.

    Writing for adulation, recognition and acclaim are lousy reasons to write. The odds are very good you won't get ANY of those things.

    I really believe you have to write because you love writing and the writing is its own reward. I say that not to be philosophical, but because I really believe it to be true. Writing is a game where there are far more losers than winners and even for the winners the reality of being published looks a lot less shiny from a distance than it does up close.

    Nathan Rabin is a writer for The Onion's A.V. (audio/visual) Club site. He's witty, smart and knows how to turn a clever phrase. He's very talented and landed a book deal compiling his columns from the site. And that's when his illusions were dispelled.

    I invite you to read his "Advice for aspiring and first-time authors." I'm going to post the link on Absolute Write, but you might find it of some interest:,36627/

    Please don't think I'm trying to take a whiz on your dreams. I would NEVER try to squash an aspiring author's hopes for fame and fortune. I have some of my own I hope to realize one day, so I know how you feel.

    What I would like to impart to you is even when success is realized, it's sometime far less in actuality than it was in fantasy.

    Happy New Year and good luck in your writing!

  2. I just wanted to say. I enjoyed your post Katie. I've gotten my fair share of rejections and I won't friggin' stings, but like you, I keep telling myself I have to keep trying. I believe in the story I'm telling. Of course I love writing, but my greatest reward will be readers who enjoy my stories. That's what I want the most....nice "fat royalty check" doesn't hurt either. :-P

    Seriously, I try to keep a positive attitude. Sometimes I feel like it's especially hard for science fiction writers. Anyways, great post.

  3. I love your post so much. You've inspired me to start my own blog...

    *Shameless plug* and feature your advice in my first post!

  4. I hear your pain. I sell fantasy, and I know SF is a little harder to sell, but trust me, I know your pain.

    I'm glad you're being positive. That's what's most important. And a love of writing. ;)