Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Rejection That Restored My Faith
I know it sounds weird, but I'm floating on a cloud from a rejection I received yesterday.
Back in December, I sent out the final set of queries for my first novel, Life Before Death. I didn't expect anything to come of them. I'd had a few requests, but all my subs were rejected via feedback-less form R's.
So when I got an email in January requesting a partial, I sent off the first five chapters expecting more of the same. But a couple weeks later I was pleasantly surprised when the agent's assistant wrote back asking for the full manuscript. Realizing it was probably my last chance with this ms, I spent 2-1/2 hours proofreading and revising before sending it off - but still, I expected nothing.
In the mean time, I threw all my love and energy into revising WiP #2 and started to send off queries. And as my CP's can tell you, it isn't going well.
Responses seem to be taking forever, and the ones that have come back are all form rejections. I couldn't, and still can't, figure out what I'm doing wrong, especially when I'm querying agents who claim to want the kind of story I've written.
Yesterday morning, another query response for #2 showed up in my inbox and -yup, you guessed it- a form rejection. I admit, I swore at my computer screen. Then did a little more copious whining to my CP's, lamenting that if I ONLY KNEW WHAT THE PROBLEM WAS, I'd fix it.
But alas, I'd never once received feedback on a rejection, and I didn't see the pattern changing any time soon.
Then, around 6:00 last night, the assistant who'd contacted me about Life Before Death e-mailed me. I steeled myself, ready for another unhelpful form rejection. When I read "Thank you for your interest in our agency," I thought that was exactly what I got.
But then she went on to say how much she and the agent enjoyed the manuscript, and how lovely the ending was. To which my reaction was, Wait, what? She read all the way to the end??
Peeps, she most certainly did. She went on to tell me exactly what she loved about the ms, and the things that worked - and didn't work, which ultimately led to their passing on it.
And even though she passed, the fact that she took the time to offer such thorough, helpful, and kind feedback put me on cloud nine. Sure, my beloved first novel is going back in a drawer, for now. But someone had found it worthwhile enough - thought it DIDN'T SUCK ENOUGH - to tell me how I could make it even better - all while using words like "lovely" and "clever" and "multi-dimensional."
It was a rejection, but it's the best I've felt about my writing in a long time.
So now I can say with certainty that there ARE agents out there who will care about your work, and who will pay attention to what you've created. And then, even if they don't take you on, they'll tell you why with more than just a generic, "Sorry, not right for me."
And that is how a rejection restored my faith in the publishing world. Amen.