I once saw a writer on one of my writing organization loops post about rejection. She came to lament that she had received a rejection on a partial and was so devastated she had cried all day. "I got very little feedback. What am I supposed to do next?" she asked. She went on and on and on about how hard she had worked on that manuscript (for six months), how close she had felt, and how much the rejection stung. She admitted it was her first rejection.
If I could've reached through my computer and shook her, I would have. Rejection is the name of the game, Sunshine! I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs. It happens to writers, published authors, multi-published authors, and agents every other minute in publishing.
What do you do next? You send out more queries, you brush it off, and keep going! One rejection and this writer was ready to throw in the towel! I couldn't believe how naive she was being. I wanted to tell her that not only will you have to send out more queries, and face dozens and dozens of rejections, but most likely you'll have to write something else.
Look, the harsh reality is that expecting your first manuscript to land you an agent or editor is like every baseball player expecting his first hit in the major leagues to be a homerun. Does that happen every once in a while? Of course it does. But not very often.
When I was querying, the rejections piled up like dirt, until I was staring at an enormous hill. To make things worse, most of them were of the close-but-no-cigar variety with lots of feedback. Many were also R&Rs - revise and resubmits. I rewrote my first novel so many times I can now read it to you line by line without glancing at the book.
But when I was facing that mounting pile of rejections, one of my published author friends gave me the best piece of publishing advice I've ever gotten. She said to write something else. And that's what I did, and it landed me my first agent.
I think most writers, unlike this very naive one I mention, know that you have to send multiple queries out to many, many agents. But I wonder sometimes if new writers know that it may take many, many manuscripts before you make it in the big leagues. Yes, that first one may hit it out of the park, but it may take many, many swings before you're a batting legend. If you accept this going in, you'll be a lot better off. And much more likely to keep your sanity.
I wish the best of luck to any writer who is in the query trenches at this moment. Believe in yourself, but be willing to work hard, improve your craft, and write multiple manuscripts...until you're so good they can't afford to reject you.
Marlo Berliner is the award-winning author of THE GHOST CHRONICLES, her debut book which was released in November 2015 to critical acclaim. The book won the 2016 NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best First Book, was named FINALIST in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Young Adult Fiction, received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion, and was named one of the “best indie YA books we have seen in the past year, from both self-publishers and small presses” by IPPY Magazine. Marlo is represented by Eric Ruben of the Ruben Agency and she writes young adult, women’s fiction, and short stories. Her second book, THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2, was released in October 2017.
When she's not writing or editing, Marlo loves reading, relaxing at the beach, watching movies, and rooting for the Penn State Nittany Lions. After having spent some wonderful time in Pittsburgh and Houston, she’s now back in her home state of New Jersey where she resides with her husband, two sons, and a rambunctious puppy named Max.