And the first rejections are coming in!

February 27, 2011

Well, my agent-hunt has started to yield answers.

So far, the answer is “No.”

Which stings a little, I will admit. I did my homework before, so I knew I was going to face a lot of rejection, and I knew I’d have to try a lot of agents, and I knew and told myself that at this stage of my life, this is more for the experience of querying and building a thick skin than it is for anything else.

But there is that little pinprick. Realistically, how could there not be? If you care about your work, you’ve got to feel something when people say “Not for me.”

The trick is moving on. Trying the next one. Recalling all those stories of writers who queried dozens of agents, got to the point of giving up, and then got accepted by the next one.

I was checking my email right before bed for something else and had a rejection waiting for me. Not a great way to slip off into dreamland, but then I had the following dialogue with myself (I swear I’m not crazy, though… I just tend to think in dialogue. Like those old philosophical works).

“What, did you think you’d get an agent the first few tries?”

“Well, no, but… but she didn’t like it.”

“You had some trepidation about this one because her last few sales have been YA. You’re probably not in the direction she wants to be moving.”

“But it was a form rejection!!!”

“So? They’re busy. Everyone starts out with form rejections, and you are just starting out.”

“I guess.”

“And look- you’re getting your first rejections! And you haven’t exploded into a million pieces of shame and despair! Even if you’re not ready to run with the big dogs, you’re learning for the day you will be ready.”

“I suppose I do have time.”

“Exactly! Academia’s sheltering arms will give you a few more years to hone your craft. Besides: how many publishers rejected Harry Potter? How much did you hear about rejections on I Should Be Writing?”

“A lot.”

“See? Now… who’s next on the short list?”

I’ve always known that my fear of failure and sensitivity to rejection would be obstacles I would have to overcome if I want to succeed in this profession. There’s just no way around it: you need a thick skin to survive. And this is an excellent way to get mine to toughen up.

By the end of this, I’ll be as strong and tough as an armadillo.





  1. You are certainly not alone in your internal dialogue – I for one, do the exact same thing! It is hard to read a rejection ‘form’ or otherwise because your ‘baby’ is the focus of the rejection. But this is all part of the writers journey and we all have to forge through it.
    I wish you well on your next submission – keep trying the ‘perfect’ match os out there.

  2. Thick skin is good . . . as is a sense of humor.

    If you need additional perspective:


  3. It’s a journey! You’re on you way. 🙂

  4. Well, you’ve certainly got the right attitude. Keep at ’em!

  5. Aww! 🙂
    Thanks everyone for the encouragement (and links! :P). Onwards!

  6. Chin up Arvik. I thought I’d be devastated when I first started getting rejections but then I realized they meant I was doing something concrete with my writing. I’ve also learned there are levels of rejection, and I’ve ended up being pretty excited as my rejections improve. The worst one was an agent sending back my self-addressed envelope, sealed, with nothing in it, and the words ‘No thanks’ scrawled on the back of the envelope. Bad enough on its own, but I live in a very tiny town with a post office in a corner of a general store, so everyone got to read it. Also keep in mind the publishing word is in a lot of tumult right now which makes it even harder to get an agent, since they aren’t sure themselves what’s going on. Keep going and keep writing.

  7. Don’t get thick as an armadillo. We have a great plenty of those beasts down here in the South, and their only purpose in life is to become road kill.

    I know what you’re feeling, having collected plenty of rejection letters myself. Sometimes the form letters are easier to take, though. The editor of “Analog Science Fiction” gets waspish in his comments.

    Keep at it.

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