A writer-friend messaged me recently to ask how on earth anyone can stand this querying business. She’d just started querying a novel, and had received her first few rejections. I love giving pep talks, probably because I always need them myself, so I tried to be reassuring. It wasn’t difficult–her novel is good, really good, and I hope to be shouting about its publication from the rooftops one of these days. In the meantime, though, it’s a long game.
It’s hard to stay optimistic. Yesterday, I achieved a personal rejection record–two rejections from two different agents for two different novels. I vacillate between feeling crushed and bemused.
I’ve sent out 59 queries for my YA contemporary fantasy Water Witch. Of those, 43 have resulted in rejection, whether by form letter or amount of time elapsed. Sometimes you don’t hear back on query letters. Agents are busy peeps. I’ve gotten 16 full or partial manuscript requests, 13 of which have ended in rejection. It’s taken anywhere from a few months to a couple of years to hear back on fulls.
I still have four submissions out. Of those, one was a rejection with lots of helpful feedback from the agent. After I revised, I asked her if I could resubmit, and she sent an encouraging yes. Another was a full request by an agent who’s since switched agencies. I’ve tried contacting her multiple times to find out if she’s still considering my submission since her job change, but have had no response. I’m considering that submission a rejection, so I effectively have three submissions still out to agents. I sent out my first query for this novel on March 7, 2014.
It’s the long game for sure.
This morning, I’m trying to work up the momentum to get started on revisions for Vessel, the next novel I plan to submit. I have revised this thing about four times now, and it still needs a good bit of work to be the best novel it can be. I am fortunate to have a handful of writer-friends who give phen0menal feedback, the kind that pushes me to do my best work.
So how does anyone do this? Some days I still don’t know. I think, at the core of it, that it’s about hope–hope on some microscopic, cellular level that’s embedded in my DNA. I get discouraged all the time. The one thing I don’t do is give up. Maybe it’s just stubbornness. I’m always wondering if I ought to focus on a career and better support my family. I’m always questioning why I feel compelled to travel this particular path. I have many dark nights of the writerly soul, but for some reason I can’t stop. Some teensy tinsy part of me–the part that is certain that there is going to be a snow day, that dragons are real, that the Best Possible Thing is coming–that part holds out, holds on, a spark in the night.
Hold on to your spark. And hit me up if you need a pep talk.