This week, I received my first rejection letter from a literary agent. My book is already available on Amazon, but I’m working on expanding my distribution and publicity, and I’d really like to squeeze in some time to continue writing, so I’m looking for an agent.
I started by researching agents who represent books for older children / young adults and are currently accepting submissions. Then I emailed a sample of my manuscript, along with a synopsis of the story and my agent query letter to a suitable literary agent.
Then I just had to wait for the reply.
Friends and family have been very kind, worrying about how this rejection will affect me. Perhaps they thought I was expecting a lucrative book deal with a hardback in every high street bookstore and a big launch party. In fact, I gave the submission no thought at all after sending it, since I was expecting the book to be rejected.
As an author, very little of my training has taken place in a classroom, I mainly develop through experience. And that includes experiencing rejection.
There are many good authors whose work has been rejected by literary agents. There are some great authors with a stack of rejections to their names, who are now very successful.
An agent rejection isn’t a reflection on the quality of an author’s work. Well, sometimes it is, but that’s not where I’m going with this. It’s mainly about finding the right fit.
It’s like being considered for a job. We’ve all been there. You turn up for an interview and see a dishearteningly large pile of CV’s. There is a long list of people who can all do the job. The interviewer gradually whittles the number down to two or three candidates who can do the job really well. Then they just have to pick the person they think will be the best fit.
This partly comes down to the people they already have on their team, because in addition to the skills required for the role, they are looking for someone who has something their existing team members don’t have. So there’s an element of luck involved.
It’s disappointing when you aren’t the one that gets picked. But there are other jobs. And there are other agents.
I see this as a practice run. In the same way interview skills get better with every interview you go through, my books will get better the more I write, and my synopsis and query letter will get better the more times I submit them. I may even receive some useful feedback from some agents that will help me hone my writing skills further.
I will give myself a week or two to think about how I can improve my submission for the next agent. In the meantime, I have writing to do.
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