As I’m gearing up ready to start querying, I thought I’d share my experiences of my first attempt two years ago. I had finished my story. I was proud and excited, dying to share it with the world… But in reality, it wasn’t ready.
Naturally, the rejections came pouring in – luckily, for my sanity, I only applied to about 6-8 literary agents.
Now, here’s what happened. ONE of those rejections was personalized.
The agent loved my query and pitch, but she didn’t “feel” the story and it wasn’t what she expected. That stung a little, but after reading back the chapters I sent her it didn’t take me long to see how right she was.
The truth is, I was impatient. The story’s skeletal structure was there, but there was also so much telling over showing, and it started in the wrong place – despite rewrites and many edits. Gosh, I sure can make work hard for myself.
I knew what was wrong … now to figure out how to fix it.
I also sent the first five pages of the manuscript to a literary consultant, who was offering a free critique period at the time, and the feedback was phenomenal. They showed me what I was doing right, and where I was going wrong. It was enough encouragement to help me rise above the rejects.
Querying is hard and terrifying, I don’t think there’s a calm way to go about it, but don’t let the rejections slow you down.
I took that agent’s comments, and I swore to myself I’d make the world feel my story.
I’m not going to say it went smoothly or perfectly, and I won’t lie and say there were no tears involved. Fierce determination can get you far – especially if it’s a project you’re in love with.
What I will also say here is how important it’s been for me to find CPs and Betas since then – something else I’d overlooked 2 years ago. I’ve learned so much just by talking to other writers – seriously, the writing community is amazingly helpful and encouraging.
I find it disheartening to see people give up on their stories after rejections. You wrote it, you put your all into it, please don’t lose faith in it – even if it means shelving it until you’ve worked up the strength to dive back in there to edit or query.
It’s difficult. You can only write and edit so much – we can’t aim for total perfection in our work, but we don’t want to slip because we are blinded by our love of it. Does your story read like you see it in your head?
That is the hardest thing to face, in my opinion.
As I said, after reading mine back, I saw the skeleton of the story – but the soul was still missing. I feel it so much better now, after so much work and thought has gone back into it – and the story has never felt more real to me.
I’m more proud of it today than I ever have been. It’s a shame that querying is just as terrifying as it was two years ago, but I’m going to do it again anyway – and so should you. If any of you doubt yourself as much as I do, let’s agree to pretend those doubts are flies and ignore them / flick them aside.
Let’s do this together.